Lizzie gets a blog idea from Ollie’s aversion to shopping

Shopping was the part of Christmas that Ollie really didn’t like, one little bit. Even when he thought he’d found a reason to be excused on medical grounds, Lizzie steamrollered him in to the shops and pinched his medical pleas as a basis for an item on her Lizzie Banks On It blog. But perhaps the woman in the shop didn’t like shopping any more than he did…

Ollie Banks had never been fond of shopping, which is why he always sought excuses to be well out of the way in the run up to Christmas. Although happy to help daughter Alice write her list for Santa and post it in the supermarket box brought out for the season, he resisted all other attempts to be taken into shops. Occasionally he was successful. Mostly he wasn’t.

He’d even done his internet homework and discovered a condition called Christmas Tree Syndrome, which he proclaimed to his wife Lizzie as proof that he wasn’t just malingering, but that his aversion to Christmas shopping was a medical issue.

She’d looked at what he showed her on the subject, and he was delighted when she took a real interest, starting to add to what he’d found with research of her own.

“So you see, it’s real,” he told her. “Shopping makes me ill.”

Medical issue, or malingering?
“Your attitude to it makes me sick,” she told him. “And that’s not quite the same thing. I’ve read all this stuff you’ve shown me, and I think it will make an interesting item on my Lizzie Banks On It blog; it’s a medical issue that people might suffer from without actually realising it. And if babies and toddlers are affected, then that ruins Christmas for everyone. On the other hand, it has nothing to do with going into shops. I’m sure I can get a lot of our shopping done avoiding real Christmas trees, so get your coat. You’ll think it’s worth it when Christmas gets here. Jack will look sweet in his red Santa hat.”

And so it was that Ollie had found himself once again in a shopping centre, having left daughter Alice and son Jack with their grandparents, and having had his alleged medical issue dismissed as a fantasy of malingering. The handles of the plastic carriers had dug into his fingers, developing red wheals. “I can hardly key in the PIN number,” he had protested. “Look at my fingers.”

Receipts recorded: The best part
Lizzie had shown no mercy. “It’s contactless, you whiny wimp. Time you manned up. Remember that so many of these gifts are for people on your side of the family, not mine. You are recording all the receipts on Solo Expenses, aren’t you? We need a proper record.”

To be fair, that’s exactly what he had been doing. He’d been the sharpest expense manager he’d ever been since discovering the cloud based expense management software Solo Expenses, and had become almost evangelical about it and the positive effect it was having every day on their household expenses. When they got home he would be able to create a series of reports so they’d know how much they’d spent on each child, how much on themselves, how much on food, and how much on the rest of the family. Even Jack’s Santa hat was there, as a special entry on its own. He had smiled at the recollection.

The last receipt; the last straw
But that had been earlier in the day. They’d ended the trip with a visit to a garden centre to buy a Poinsettia for Grandma Lorna. That visit had included a stop in a coffee shop, where he had indulged a generous slice of carrot cake. He had enjoyed it, even when Lizzie had contradicted his claim that it was one of his five a day.

He was so enjoying a warm glow from the knowledge that the garden centre till was the last he would have to visit that day; its receipt the last he would have to photograph, that he allowed himself a small joke. When the girl on the till advised him that the newly-purchased plant would like to be kept warm and away from draughts, he joked: “Just like me.” She had probably heard the quip before. Perhaps it came with every Poinsettia sale. Completely deadpan, she said: “Possibly, but if you sit in a draught, bits of you are unlikely to go black and drop off, but they will with the plant… Merry Christmas.”