So Christmas looms large once more, and while it’s undoubtedly a time for receiving as a kid, I would hope that is much more about giving for every adult, especially those with kids. When does that transition from eager beneficiary to thoughtful benefactor take place? I couldn’t pin down the precise date, but for me it was long before I had kids of my own. Yet how exciting those Christmas Days of childhood were, when we could barely sleep with excitement, yet still be wide awake by four or five o’clock to rifle through our stockings – or pillowcases as they latterly became – and occasionally even start on our main ‘under the tree’ presents long before our parents stirred, much to their disappointment.
As a father of two I can now fully comprehend the parental disappointment of being denied the spectacle of overexcited faces frenziedly ripping into paper. Some 40 years on, the unwrapping of my most memorable presents lives on vividly in the mind. It seems unfathomable now, but the year my elder brother and I got our first calculators was one such moment – his a Casio, mine a Texet. We ‘played’ with them for hours, for it was far more about what words we could spell out by flipping the LED display over than what complex mathematical equations we would now be able to solve.
The year of the motor-racing board games was another classic. At the time, our local newsagent would stock a few games in the run-up to Christmas, and this particular year, perched high above the counter from November onwards, was an exciting-looking game called Monaco Grand Prix from Tri-Ang. My brother and I were both into F1 in a big way, and I set my heart on this game, stealing a longing glance at it every morning when I turned up for my paper round. Then, one day, it was gone. Someone had bought it, and I was utterly crestfallen… until Christmas morning, that is, when I ripped off the paper to reveal the very game I so desired. It was my own father who had bought it. My brother got Waddingtons Formula 1 the same year, and we both still have those board games 40 years on.
Perhaps most memorable of all, though, was the Christmas morning we both got our first watches – a real rite of passage for any young lad growing up. No longer would we have to rely on our parents or the front room clock to tell the time. A simple flip of the wrist – whichever way round we chose to wear our treasured timepieces – and there it was. I’m going to be honest and admit that, on this occasion, I have no recollection at all of the watch my brother received, for I was so obsessed with mine that I simply didn’t notice his.
Mine was a Timex with a silver-coloured metal strap, a distinctive orangey-red face and a rotating bezel. Best of all, of course, were the luminous hands and digits, which I spent many a fascinated hour staring at when I was supposed to be going to sleep. Many watches down the line, I have no idea what happened to it, but I was reminded of it again recently when browsing the latest Etiqus range at the London Golf Show in November, for there among the eye-catching newcomers in the Sport Tour Collection was a watch bearing visual similarities, at least, with that beloved Timex of old – the new Iberian Orange model.
I wasn’t into golf as kid, but as the game became a passion in my early 20s, it became a real Godsend for family members and others desperately trying to think of something to give me. With a golfer in the family, the present opportunities are almost limitless whatever your budget, from packets of tees through to clubs, power trolleys and now even watches thanks to Etiqus.
One of the key things with any successful Christmas gift is how quickly it can be put to use, and going back a few years I can remember many Christmases when anything golf-related in the stocking or under the tree would be put to good use by Boxing Day at the very latest, and occasionally before.
Golf in the summer may be the preferred, or indeed only, modus operandi for some golfers, but for me, there has always been something about taking to the links on a crisp winter’s day with the frost on the ground and your own breath spiraling visibly up into the atmosphere. Yes, the true golfer battles on year-round, and I’m sure I wouldn’t have been alone in putting those golfing Christmas presents of old to good use as soon as humanly possible. Pity the poor souls fortunate enough to receive a new power trolley, who then face the frustration of not being able to put their new pride and joy to the test until the winter trolley ban has been lifted!
Thankfully – if that’s the right sentiment - I was never among them, and I have to confess that now, thanks to my work in the golf industry for the last 20+ years, golfing items for Christmas have become a strict no-no as I’m fortunate enough to have all the golfing gear I could ever ask for, and ongoing access at very favourable rates! So for the last few years, “absolutely nothing golfy” has been a much-repeated mantra when the family asks for my Christmas list.
Not this year though. I’m having to make a rare exception to the rule, for one particular item has forced me to relent, albeit perhaps somewhat optimistically. As I was browsing the latest Etiqus Sport Tour Collection at the London Golf Show, it wasn’t only the Iberian Orange model that caught my eye, but also the striking new European Blue and Georgia Green models. It was the European Blue I took a real shine too, and although I’m fortunate enough to already own one Etiqus watch, a second would surely look better with certain outfits, wouldn’t it?
Self-indulgent? Perhaps, but if my wife is reading this, well, you’re always complaining about not knowing what to get me, so this year I’ve found the perfect answer. I may even allow a small increase in the family Christmas budget in such exceptional circumstances!
Contributing Editor, Golf Monthly