It is the first day of December and suddenly the usually modest lunchtime queue at the Lewes Post Office has started snaking out of the door and around the corner. It will be like this now every (working) day until Christmas Eve. The looming deadlines for posting parcels abroad in time for Christmas are no doubt partly responsible, but I can't help thinking that today's date itself is also to blame. Turning the kitchen calendar over to December this morning, I felt a surge of anxiety about the impending festivities - the growing 'to do' list for which I have largely been ignoring for the last few weeks. Not that you could forget about Christmas if you tried, what with it being shoved in your face no sooner than the 'Back to School' retail promotions have finished in September. But now that we're actually in the same month as the Big Day, it's like being penned in a cage with a snarling monster - you know if you don't start feeding it soon that you're going to get eaten! So off they all march to the Post Office, joining hordes of other stony-faced shoppers despatching the usual pointless paraphernalia to out-of-town relatives; ticking the boxes and pacifying the monster. Personally, I only have a couple of packages to send this year, to friends in other countries; thanks to the wonders of online shopping, I shall be delegating the majority of that irksome task to Amazon. And I have absolutely no problem with other people doing the same - I would rather get stuff that I actually want off my wish list than a basket of cosmetics or a gimmicky gadget that will end up Out the Back with the Rest. Birthdays are for thoughtful and original gifts - Christmas is just about getting through it with minimum damage to both sanity and wallet. Bah, Humbug.