Christmas shopping

Yes, it still is Christmas, the part most of us like best. All the frantic rushing around is over, and as far as gifts are concerned - we opened them on Christmas Eve, on the evening of the 24th, so we've had plenty of time to look them over, and to get used to them, because not every gift is exactly the answer to the recipient's dreams, you know, despite the fact that so much time and energy goes into Christmas shopping. It seems to me that every year shopping requires more and more time and energy, and my friends agree. Children - they're the main reason for the pre-Christmas madness, as anybody will tell you. Especially as far as gifts are concerned. But how do they themselves feel about the holiday? This is what a group of 11 year olds see as the most important part of Christmas. So, it seems, getting presents is not the most important part of Christmas, as far as children are concerned. A fact many parents don't realize and shopping for them, and for the rest of the family is a pre-Christmas nightmare. But Steve Hammett, chief executive of Tesco stores for the Czech and Slovak Republics, doesn't think it's as bad as in Britain, for example. Mikulas, or St Nicolas Day being the 6th of December. Well, soft toys may have been the most frequently bought Christmas gift at Tesco's, but throughout the country the real hit this year were mobile phones. In some stores people even stood in line to get them. As a result four in ten Czechs now own a mobile phone. A number no higher than in many developed countries, but, since mobiles made their appearance here later than in those countries, the amazing thing has been the rapid increase in mobile phone owners. And another amazing thing, as far as Christmas shopping is concerned, is the fact that you'd hardly find a Christmas tree in the country without at least one or two books under its branches, among the rest of the gifts. I asked the owner of one of the biggest bookstore chains in the country, Jan Kanzelsberger, what the Christmas season in his stores had been like. And so, Christmas has come, and will soon be over. What has it been like? In most Czech families probably very much like in the family of Mrs. Dasa Simova, mother of two married daughters and grandmother of two little girls.