Bah humbug! I’m only kidding. I kind of like the Christmas season on the whole when it rolls around (as it has again). Or at least I enjoy it from the perspective of my children who are so über excited that they have been counting down the ‘sleeps’ since the beginning of December. Anyway, I don’t expect any of you will be reading this today as you’re too busy ferreting through a family-sized tin of Quality Street, but if you do happen to be bored today or on Boxing Day; it’s nice of you to drop in! How did you find the lead-up to Chrimbo this year? I quite like Christmas itself but it’s the run-in that causes me the most anxiety. Like most things, there’s a lot about the Yuletide season that vexes me somewhat…
I do find the annual ‘gift list’ a growing chore. My kids are a breeze; I know exactly what they want (they won’t bloody well let me forget it), but it’s the other relatives that can be hard work. As December steadily marches by and my time runs out, towards the end of the month I find I am buying presents just for the sake of it. I barely care if the receiver is going to actually like it or not; at least they will have something to open and that’s the main thing. But that has to be wrong, doesn’t it? That has to be flouting some ‘Christmas Spirit’ ruling? And how much of this stuff just ends up in a landfill, I ask myself? We get ourselves into mountains of debt that will take us half a year to pay off just for the sake of a couple of days of celebrating. I do sometimes wonder why we make so much of it.
I detest writing Christmas cards. I think cards should only be sent to the elderly or infirm at Christmas. That doesn’t mean to say I don’t carry out the practice because I do. I worry about all the cards I will receive and the stress of finding I’ve missed the last posting date so I do as many cards as I can stomach. I guess there is some merit in the tradition of cards being sent because if we didn’t, there would be a mass of people in our lives we wouldn’t make contact with year-in-year-out (if it wasn’t for Christmas). So if you have received a card from me this year and you are not elderly or infirm, I do hope the dreadful mood I was in at the time hasn’t come across in the seasons greeting inside (I imagine a green puff of venom/bile being emitted as the envelope was opened). The words I wrote were heartfelt; I just don’t enjoy sitting down and writing them. One year, I once wrote all my cards in pretend pigeon-German, taking on the character of famous 1980’s British javelin thrower, Fatima Whitbread. For some reason. That was the only year I ever enjoyed writing cards. I just need to find a way to amuse myself or it isn’t fun for anybody. For those of you who didn’t receive a card from me this year, I do apologise – I honestly haven’t stopped caring about your existence. But I had probably lost the will to live at that point and couldn’t bring myself to write another one. And if you are from my husband’s side of the family or were his friend before you were my friend, I assigned your card-writing task to him (we do have to make some divisions of labour in our house). And he’s a lazy arse so you have probably been left wanting on the card front.
Wrapping presents is even worse than writing cards. Fact. Especially when you have a tonne to do. This probably arises from the fact that I’m terribly bad at it. I once watched a ‘how to’ video saying that the biggest mistake most people make is using too much paper. This makes for an untidy, ‘baggy’ present. Apparently. So I have tried to cut down on the paper to tidy things up a bit but I don’t get caught up in the complexities of ribbon-tying or ‘making a pressy look fancy’ business. They’re torn open so quickly in my house that there doesn’t seem to be a great deal of point. We’ve had the added hindrance this year of acquiring two cats over the summer. Cats love present wrapping. Or more correctly, they enjoy sitting on the paper whilst you are attempting to wrap a present. Which makes the whole process even less fun. Why do cats feel the incessant need to park their posteriors on paper? Answers on a postcard please.
I won’t labour the point on this one, but I’m still on a diet healthy eating plan and I have only just hit my target weight. The thought of all that hard work going down the toilet is heart-breaking. Because it will, at least a bit. I’ve been reading a lot of blogs about how to survive the festive season if you’re on a diet but they’re mostly full of crap and don’t give you any meaningful advice. So the fact of it is, I am likely to binge a bit but hopefully I will have some tiny vestige of willpower left in me by the New Year to pick up where I left off. Oh, and all that running around we do to ensure we have EVERY item of EVERY food-group in the house just for the sake of ONE DAY (there are a lot of shops open on Boxing Day these days), is absolutely crazy. As long as you have bread, milk and toilet paper, you’ll live.
This is a bit of a maudlin one, but Christmas does force you to look at the relationships in your life, or how you’ve let them dwindle to next to nothing. I’m not talking about your other-half or the people you see day-to-day; it’s those distant friends and family I worry about. I used to be in touch with my late-sister an awful lot at this time of year. We used to converse regularly about our Christmas preparations and what our respective children would like. Now she has gone, so has that connection. I have no idea what her son (my sixteen year old nephew) would like for Christmas. Every year I take a fairly uneducated guess. Since the death of my sister, we virtually have no relationship with my brother-in-law and nephew. Understandably, my brother-in-law has withdrawn somewhat from family life (my side of the family, anyway). It’s all very sad if I stop and let myself think about it; I regret that things are the way they are. I blame myself because I’m a grown woman and I don’t know how to fix it. I sometimes hope that my last connection to my sister, her son, will try to make contact when he is older. But perhaps I am just deluding myself. Maybe I am the one who needs to try to bridge the gap. Also I worry about the friends I have let disappear from my life (I’ve discussed this before in a previous blog). I’m astonishingly bad at maintaining long-distance friendships. Perhaps Christmas (and the card-writing thing) is good for that. At least it’s a time of year to try to keep those channels open.
Yikes! Sorry, got a bit depressing there. I didn’t mean to. It was supposed a fairly light and airy Christmas blog! But I guess Christmas can stir up a lot of good and a lot of bad emotions for people. Still, I for one will probably enjoy the day – I’ll be with my lovely husband (who isn’treally a lazy arse, most of the time) and my awesome daughters and my in-laws who have very much become a second family to me. Also (even though I moan about it), I certainly enjoy eating, so the whole day is a win-win for me. And so to all of you who have taken the time out to read this blog today or on Boxing Day, and those who have been reading my posts throughout the year, I wish you a very Happy Christmas (think of this as a venom/bile-free Christmas card from me). I hope you are spending it with the people you love most on earth. And to those of you who are alone on Christmas Day or have lost someone you love and don’t feel very much like celebrating, try to take solace in the knowledge that there will always be someone somewhere who is thinking of you – but maybe they just don’t know how to make the first move and get in touch. And what’s more, even though we do make a huge song and dance about it and get ourselves into masses of debt and make absolute pigs of ourselves – really, Christmas is just a another day.