It's that time of year when we have the annual 'Christmas Present Conversation'. It goes something like this.
Jane: You're so difficult. Is there anything you'd like?
Me: Just buy me some books.
Jane: But you buy those all the time.
Me: I can't think of anything else.
Jane: How about a coat?
Me: Not clothes please.
Jane: Point taken, but you must want something?
Me: How about some nice Jam?
Jane: I can't buy you jam.
Me: Why not?
Jane: Because it's not right, unless you're Eighty.
Me: Then I'd like a saxophone. A tenor saxophone to be precise and you get them from...
Jane: Now you're just being silly.
I'm not trying to be difficult; I realise that I sound like my grandparents - note I've skipped a generation and didn't bother with the parent-like stage - but I genuinely can't think of anything I particularly desire.
Instead, I smugly ponder how it is small things in life which give me most pleasure.
Except that's not true - I like big things too!
This year I took enormous pleasure from re-roofing our cottage in slate although I could have used tiles. When I 'needed' a new computer I bought a top specification Apple-Mac because I sit at the thing for hours every day. And I'm about to pay a ridiculous amount for a new kitchen because I want it sorted and I want it now. But none of these are exactly Christmas present material.
I like specialist things too. I told Jane I fancied a Hilleburg Nalo GT 2 tent, to which she replied, 'So you'll be getting that yourself.' I'd also like a specimen of Automris Io for my moth collection but I didn't bother saying.
I realise it's the mid range I need to get better at. The present that lies somewhere between a book and a saxophone - I did suggest a banjo but that wasn't taken seriously either. A raku piece? Maybe, but I'd want to chose it, so no surprise on the day. Or what about a... I'm really struggling here; surely Christmas isn't meant to be this difficult.
So might I suggest we reconsider the merits of jam.
For the fact is, I really like it - blackcurrant especially. Good jam is one of the small but delicious pleasures I insist on each morning. I know it only costs a few pounds but why should that matter? George Orwell in his essay on the delights of English cookery, wrote, 'is there anything quite as good as the soft part of the crust from an English cottage loaf.' Well, I'd add jam - and some good coffee too.
And while I'm on a roll: a good book, some olives and goats cheese for lunch, and a brochure from World of Butterflies.
Now that would be a fabulous Christmas.