The bags were nicer than the presents inside

FOR some people, regardless of the preparation, Christmas Day doesn't always turn out the way it ought to.

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Take my good friend Lorna.

Boxing Day and I'm looking for bargains at The Fort Shopping Centre in Glasgow. I'm going into Thornton's as Lorna is coming out.

"Hi Lorna, Merry Christmas. How was your day?" I ask, full of Christmas cheer. "Fancy coming back in for a hot chocolate?"

Little did I know what was to follow.

Now, to let you understand, Lorna is one of the easiest, good-natured friends I have.

She doesn't ask for anything from anybody and is always very content with her lot.

"Fine," she said, sounding anything but fine.

ME: "Fine? That doesn't sound too exciting!"

LORNA: "Well, Derek (her boyfriend of two months) arrived at mine for Christmas lunch and it was obvious that he already had had a few drinks."

ME: (endeavouring to excuse his behaviour): "Oh well, it was Christmas."

LORNA: "I know it was. But it was only 11.30 in the morning."

ME: "Oh. That's not so good."

LORNA: "And it got worse …"

Clearly it had got worse because she was now raising her eyebrows, something she only does when stressed.

We take a sip of hot chocolate and continue to unfold Lorna's Christmas Day.

LORNA: "For some reason, on Christmas morning, the turkey wasn't properly defrosted, so lunch was looking more likely to be dinner. So, I was on edge from the moment Derek arrived. I wanted to impress him with a lovely lunch but it seemed to be going wrong from the start.

"If he said once 'When will dinner be ready?' He must have asked a thousand times.

"I put out crisps and nuts but he wasn't interested. Derek hadn't brought anything to drink, but soon found his way into the fridge and opened a can of lager."

Now Lorna's favourite tipple is Lambrini. His favourite tipple seemed to be anything in her fridge except milk.

LORNA: (taking a deep breath): "Finally, the turkey was in the oven and, trying desperately to raise the spirit of the day, I suggested we exchange gifts to pass the turkey cooking time."

Not being one for designer labels, Lorna always seemed more than happy with gifts of any description. Or so I thought.

LORNA: "He arrived with five different designer bags and I was getting quite excited. I've never had any designer presents before. And, from previous conversations, I guessed that he might spend a fair bit of money on my presents, so I went a bit over the top with his.

"So I said to him let's do one each."

DEREK: "Ok good idea. Let me get another drink first."

Lorna sighs again but doesn't want to spoil their day.

DEREK: (deftly lifting the ring-pull on the can): "You first Lorna."

Lorna lifts the first obvious present and unwraps it.

LORNA: "Wow, a giant bottle of Lambrini. Thanks very much. I love Lambrini."

She leans over to give him a kiss. This is exciting, she thinks, looking at the designer bags waiting to be opened.

LORNA: "Your turn.

Derek is happy to unwrap a much needed golf glove which is the perfect fit.

DEREK: "You next."

Lorna looks at the expertly gift-wrapped small box. Jewellery? Definitely jewellery, she guesses. Excitedly she slowly reveals the contents of the box.

LORNA: "Wow, a bottle opener. What can I say?"

But she still leans over again to give Derek another kiss.

LORNA: "Go for it Derek. Next one."

Derek slurps the last of his lager and gives the parcel a squeeze. No idea what is inside, so he rips off the paper to reveal a beautiful blue golf sweater which Lorna has selected online.

Lorna's turn again. The designer bag looks promising. She lifts it and gives it a gentle shake hoping to guess the contents. But no. She has no idea. After all, she is not a designer type of girl.

It could be any number of things. Slowly she opens the bag and lifts out a giant box of Thornton's chocolates.

LORNA: (leaning forward once more to provide a peck on the cheek): "Thanks. I love chocolates.

DEREK: (cracking open yet another can of lager before happily reaching for another parcel): "My turn."

He is overjoyed to find an expensive pair of golf shoes.He has now forgotten all about the turkey.

DEREK: "Brilliant.Thanks Lorna. Just what I needed."

He then steps back and graciously toasts her with the can of lager she bought and he raided from her fridge.

Lorna reaches for her next gift. This is surely it, she thinks to herself, and gives Derek a thank you smile in advance of his wonderful gift.

This is a different designer bag. Not one she recognises. Slowly she opens it carefully. After all, there must be something special inside. She puts her hand in and pulls out ANOTHER box of Thornton's chocolates.

After a short silence, Derek smiles at Lorna before chirping: "You did say you liked chocolates."

He heads to the fridge again. Pouring his next drink, Derek doesn't wait to be asked and lifts his final gift.

It's an envelope and Lorna has gone to a lot of effort to buy him two tickets for his favourite concert. He is delighted.

Lorna reaches for her final gift which is inside a beautiful bag with a large bow and a French sounding name on the side.

LORNA: "It's too lovely to open."

With hindsight she was undoubtedly correct about that. She peeks inside the beautiful bag and reaches in to reveal a THIRD box of Thornton's chocolates.

A dejected Lorna's sits on her living room floor surrounded by discarded Christmas wrapping paper and empty designer bags.

THREE boxes of Thornton's chocolates are in a pile by her side.

"Brilliant presents," declares Derek, who is well satisfied with how his day has gone so far.

DEREK: "Do you fancy a drink, Lorna?"

Seconds later she hears the hiss of her Christmas bottle of Lambrini being opened.

Poor Lorna. I didn't have to ask why she had been in Thornton's on Boxing Day, but I suspect she was exchanging her 3 for 2 Christmas presents.

Hope you all had a lovely Christmas and have a wonderful New Year.

Food and drink

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                Janice Bell                

Janice Bell


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