There’s nothing like a peruse of other people’s Christmas traditions on Facebook or Mumsnet to make our household look like a terrestrial version of ‘Abandon hope all ye who enter here.’ Never mind the making of fancy little star-shaped biscuits and jolly felt decorations for the tree, it’s as much as I can do to summon up the enthusiasm to bung up the Christmas poodle ornament with one leg missing and the starry tinsel that’s just purple wire now all its stars have leapt off over the years and rejoined the universe. If it weren’t for the children, I’d probably ditch the tree all together and pile up the boxes of wine into a triangle shape.
Other people have joyous traditions such as inviting people over to sing carols round the fire, which would be the quickest way to find ourselves alone at New Year. The husband sounds like the exhaust on a removals truck and I’ve long taken up miming at the children’s carol concerts. Then there’s all that putting down food for the reindeers and sherry wotnot for Father C, which just makes me think rats. And the dog would scarf up the Harveys Bristol Cream creating her own brand of Christmas doom in the form of a vet on a million-pound callout over the festive season.
And don’t get me started on Christmas cards. All that hanging around, blowing over every time the sitting room door is opened, guilting me into thinking about the people I didn’t send one to. I know it’s the thought that counts but am I alone in finding it weird that people send cards all the way from Australia, actually go to the effort of taking the damn thing to the post office to get it weighed in the middle of November then write, ‘Love Pat’? No news. No family nugget. Come on, guys, let’s tap into our loquacious gene here and make those airmiles worth it.
And then, deep happiness, there’s the present minefield. The children start making constant white noise about their present lists back in October, which I let blend in with the sound of the dishwasher until about 21 December, then pay out one third of the Christmas budget on presents and two-thirds on next day delivery. The husband gets stressed about what he’s going to buy me as I don’t need or want anything. To me, this seems a fine characteristic in a wife, but the embarrassment of being the only husband in the room who has bought nothing for his beloved seems to turn this fabulous quality of mine into a fault. So although a recent survey made mockery of sensible presents such as saucepans, socks and slippers, I think I would be delighted with just about everything in the top ten worst presents list with the possible exception of diet books, clothes in the wrong size and granny knickers, though better the big bloomers than some cheese-gratery thong that makes you scared to sneeze.
Last year the husband bought me a welly boot mud scraper, the year before a fridge, both of which filled my heart with much more joy than unwrapping a trinkety little box containing something sparkly. The pressure of having to like something expensive makes me back away, a bit like the dog when I try to wash the mud off her with the hosepipe.
But yet…when the extended family gather round on Christmas Day, my Dad raises a toast and says, ‘May these be our worst days’, the kids go into raptures over the nail clippers and plastic earrings from the crackers, the dog appears with a perfect (snaffled) triangle of Brie in her mouth, the husband is just such a damn good egg, barely raising an eyebrow that the family and friends this year come with an extra three dogs between them…well, I have to consider myself blessed, Christmas humbug and all.
P.S. If anyone needs a last minute present…I know of a fantastic book on Kindle…http://www.amazon.co.uk/The-Class-Ceiling-ebook/dp/B00ANUAN72/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1356013757&sr=8-1