I find it hard to decide what I would like for Christmas. When I was a child it was straightforward. I would settle on something - a tape recorder, a watch, a transistor radio, early and then channel all my energies into hinting for it and then hoping.
As an adult it's a bit trickier. Presents generally fall into three categories. First are the things that you'd like but that you would probably buy for yourself - books, music, perfume. They are lovely to receive but if hints fall on stony ground then it's nothing that an evening on Amazon can't sort.
Then there are the things that are quite personal and rely on the giver having reasonable taste or at least, taste that accords with yours. Into this category I would place any form of clothing, jewellery, make up. I am lucky that all my friends and particularly my husband seem to triumph in this regard and choose beautiful things for me.
Finally there are those things that you would really like but which are totally impractical. An indoor pool at the bottom of the garden, a holiday home in Bali, a sporty convertible for the rare days when the sun shines. These kind of presents are strictly for day dreams only and barely worth mentioning except in jest.
So when my husband asked me, a few weeks before Christmas, I was at a loss as to what to suggest. Then I stumbled on the idea of an electronic book reader, or more specifically a Kindle. This was not a new idea to me but, in a rather irritating habit that I have, it takes me a while to come round to an idea. I have generally rejected something out of hand before I have to perform a total U turn and come round to it with enthusiasm.
Such was the case with e readers. The idea of reducing the joy of a freshly bought paperback with its pristine cover and fresh smelling paper to a computer generated single page was anathema to me. I chuntered about how pages were meant for turning and that a book, once read and enjoyed, should sit in pride of place on a bookshelf so you could pluck it down from time to time and reconsider choice passages.
Of course, many of the books that clutter my house did not live up to the promise of the front cover, will never be read again and require weekly dusting. Once I reached that conclusion, other advantages of an e reader began to fight their way through my initial objections. No need to carry a heavy tome with me round the shops just so I had something to do on the train. No need to fill the bottom layer of my suitcase with novels when we go on holiday. No need to try and hold a weighty book above my head whilst I sunbathe on my back.
Suddenly a Kindle began to look terribly attractive. I carried out a mini survey by asking the one person I knew that already had one and he confirmed the many and varied advantages. So I asked Santa for one and then got quite excited about the whole idea and even read reviews and whatnot on Amazon so that by the time I opened my much anticipated gift I was already quite knowledgeable.
I have had my beautiful Kindle in its steel blue leather cover for four days and already I cannot imagine my life without it. I am an instant convert. I love how easy it is to read. I love that I can balance it on my knee without having to hold it and you don't have to change position depending which side of the page you are reading. I love the fact that I can read long books without worrying about having to lug them about or encounter the risk of breaking the spine and having the pages sprinkle like confetti all over the pool. And, rather sadly, I love the fact that no one need know what I'm reading. The third book that I downloaded and the one that I have spent most time engrossed in over the holidays is the latest by Jilly Cooper - my guilty secret.
Whilst my relationship with my Christmas present is in its infancy, I do believe that we are going to be firm friends and in my book that is what a good gift is all about. So thank you husband for bearing with me whilst I slowly accepted technology and then for picking up my hint so beautifully.