I’ve just got back from Egypt. I was swimming in the Red Sea this time last week soaking up the sun and spraying my legs with insect repellent.

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But as soon as I arrived back home I realised I could avoid it no longer. Christmas trees are twinkling in the shops and in Ipswich the Christmas lights are on so it’s really happening.

I am no curmudgeon but doesn’t it all cost?

This year I am buying for just three people – my parents and my sister – this is because I don’t buy presents for any friends and I’ve, thankfully, only a small smattering of relations who demand little.

This year I suggested to my sister Claire who enjoys Christmas and has even bought me a Christmas tree to put up in my small flat with sea views (distant) that we swap £50 notes and call it a day.

After a moment’s hesitation she realised what I was suggesting didn’t include anything to unwrap and nothing exciting you don’t really need.

All I’ve asked for is 200 Benson and Hedges (silver), a bottle of Canadian Club and an electric toothbrush which I have bought myself already to ensure I get no unwanted knitwear or handkerchiefs.

It is difficult though.

I have no idea what I buy my mother Sue. I suggested a cook book but she said she had enough and didn’t want to do any more cooking than necessary as she’s had enough of supermarkets and wasn’t likely to do that much more baking despite enjoying watching Mary Berry in The Great British Bake Off.

My sister Claire is also proving problematic – so far I’ve got a her Claire Balding’s autobiography (half price).

I suspect I might have to put some effort in and trawl the shops of Felixstowe – I refuse to go anywhere else as I don’t like the dog eat dog world of the Christmas rush.

Anyway with an MOT coming up and road tax as well, Christmas might have to be postponed until I am less financially cramped – how on earth families manage with children that seem to need so much at this time of year I’ll never know.

In the meantime I am getting into the festive spirit with the Icklingham – the village in the west of the county where I grew up – festival of lights this weekend. The ladies of the church are busy making Victoria sponges and cheese straws and organising the urn.

Father Christmas will be there in his grotto and I shall be playing the organ for the Sunday evening carol service just to prove I am no humbug.

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