My brain seems to have jumbled up the basic order of Christmas, which usually goes:
A, Work out where you’ll need to be
B, Buy presents
C, See a panto
D, Put up decorations
E, Buy food
F, Wrap stuff, cook stuff, unwrap stuff, eat stuff.
G, Clear stuff away.
H, Worry about how long it is until payday.
All right, so I know where we have to be. A couple of days here and there ‘oop North visiting relatives, then home again as we’ve got a wedding invite between Christmas and New Year. Tick.
Presents: ah yes, I had a couple of frantic shopathons this week and did some uncharacteristically early wrapping (Christmas Eve is usually my wrapathon). I’ve still a couple of things to get but also found the forgotten present stash. Anyone else do this? I’m not usually forward-thinking enough to shop in October, or whatever it is the organised people do, but I’ve found a bag of small presents that I must have had in mind for someone. I’ve since bought other stuff and now have a surplus. Weird.
The tree has only just gone up and yes, it’s the same one we’ve had since 2005, and no, it’s not real.
Every year when packing the whole shebang up on January 5, we resolve that next year we’ll get a new tree, new lights, and some decorations that weren’t made by the kids ten years ago. Then we bundle it all up in the loft and forget it for another 12 months.
The tree lights are so old and broken there are spaces where no lights come on at all. But hey, the ones that do come on still flash.
Tasteful doesn’t occur when you have four children. They insist that the one-legged angel decoration with evil eyes must go on the tree, plus several multicoloured and bald strings of tinsel and a couple of toilet rolls half-glued with fading crepe paper. All very John Lewis. Not.
I’ve sort of forgotten about the buying food part. Once upon a time I’d have filled the freezer by now, but hey, I forgot. It’s been busy. We’ve survived the weekend on toast and noodles, but I guess I’ll have to face a grocery shop eventually.
Some of the cooking has been taken care of by eldest son, who has odd moments, when he’s not sighing deeply at everything I say, of culinary brilliance. He bashed out a dozen homemade mince pies and a loaf of bread on Sunday. Yet the vagaries of his timetable means he can’t study home economics at school. Boo.
There’s a Christmas cake brewing in the pantry (which I made in November and has been liberally laced with booze). I think the alcohol has prevented it going mouldy. No one will eat it except me, I’m sure, so I should probably add ‘Feel guilty about excessive consumption and lack of exercise’ to the list above.
Meanwhile, the kids, especially the younger two, aged 8 and 3, are beside themselves with excitement. Each morning Bonnie eats chocolate from her advent calendar before breakfast, while Billy marks the countdown on the ‘reindeer board.’ I try and ignore the lack of capital letter on ‘Christmas.’
One thing I have learned after 14 years of Christmases with children, and that’s there’s just no point in getting in a big old lather about the whole thing. Santa will come, the telly will be alright, you may not have to go to work.
You know there will be people much worse than you, going through hideous situations beyond their control over the next ten days, and the least of their worries will be the availability of bacon-wrapped sausages or whether their baubles match their curtains.
Chill out, try and enjoy seeing your loved ones, and remember, there’s always next year. . .