Marie Louise McConville: Why does Christmas shopping have to be so stressful?
And, so it begins.
The festive season has only just started and already I've been elbowed, shoved and become embroiled in parking wars.
Why do people always seem to lose their manners at this time of year?
I wouldn't really mind it that much if I was actually enjoying being out and about Christmas shopping but that's not really the case any more.
When I was in my twenties and thirties, I could have spent hours upon hours shopping.
I loved looking at clothes, trying new make-up, spraying myself with perfumes and just generally browsing. I loved it.
However, when I became a parent, I found that shopping became an anxious experience - trying to comfort a baby who needed fed or changed or just cuddled while also trying to shop.
And don't even suggest clothes shopping with kids, no way.
Now, I run into town at lunchtime and grab what I need - no browsing.
But rude Christmas shoppers are not the only reason I find shopping stressful.
I really hate being approached by sales assistants who ask if I need anything, would I like to try a new product or do I want to take a short survey?
I want to be left alone to do my shopping. I don't want to be approached and quizzed on what I am looking for.
And to be honest, if I am approached and put on the spot, I end up leaving the shop.
And it seems I am not the only one feeling this way.
Shoppers have recently taken to social media to praise beauty giant Sephora for introducing colour-coded baskets in European stores, so that customers with social anxiety can browse without being approached by staff.
The French beauty chain advises customers to use a red basket if they're open to assistance while shopping, or a black basket if they would like to shop without interruption.
What a fantastic idea.
This is definitely something which other stores should think about.
I mean, it seems you can't go anywhere these days without being pounced upon.
The other evening I popped into a local petrol station to get fuel.
I had only just entered the shop when a man at an electricity stand shouted: "Hey darlin', who is your electricity with?"
Apart from the fact that I was surprised to be targeted in a garage, who approaches a potential customer and calls them "darlin'"?
No wonder more and more people are shopping online these days.
I'm thankful I've most of my Christmas shopping done, goodness knows where I'd end up shoving a colour-coded basket.
So, that's that then.
The world's most watched and loved cartoon series is reportedly coming to an end.
Simpsons composer Danny Elfman has claimed the latest season of the cartoon may be the last.
Speaking during a recent interview, he said: "Well, from what I've heard, it is coming to an end. I don't know for a fact, but I've heard that it will be in its last year".
Having been created in 1989, there have been more than 700 episodes.
I'm disappointed to hear this.
I love The Simpsons as it's nice, light, dinner-making-in-the-kitchen viewing.
Did someone say petition?
December is finally here so how do you feel about kicking off the festive season with a cosy stay in Co Armagh?
Killeavy Castle Estate, at the foot of Slieve Gullion, is the perfect location for a luxury escape from the hustle and bustle of daily life.
Relax and unwind in one of the hotel's 45 elegant guest rooms with panoramic views of the estate and courtyard.
Explore the 350 acres of woodland and enjoy sustainably sourced, mouth-watering cuisine, crafted with the freshest, seasonal ingredients, sourced from the working farm, walled garden and from carefully selected local suppliers.
Fully immerse yourself in the spa and wellness suite, re-invigorate tired limbs with a dip in the mountain-view hydro pool or simply drift away in the relaxation room.
Why not treat someone special to a Christmas voucher for Killeavy Castle Estate for an overnight stay, the spa or a meal?
I have one voucher to give away for Killeavy Castle Estate to give away.
The voucher entitles the winner to one night's Bed & Breakfast for two people with a choice of a 30-minute spa treatment each.
If you fancy winning the voucher, simply email your name, address and telephone number – along with the answer to the question below – to email@example.com
Closing date for entries is 12 noon on Tuesday, December 10, 2019
(Q) In which county is the Killeavy Castle Estate found?
Normal Irish News Rules Apply
The winner of the Aladdin Panto competition is Ruth McClure, from Carrickfergus