Is it too early for a Christmas post? Should I really not be allowed to mention the C word before the 1st of December, like radio stations playing Mariah Carey? Well I can’t help it, I can feel it building. I am thinking about it. I’m thinking about what to buy people. I have started lists. I am stocking up on tins of biscuits and BOGOF’s. I am planning how to spend my Boots Advantage card points that I save all year, hoping I’ll get to buy pots of body cream and not wrapping paper like I did last year. The boy is getting twitchy about not having a turkey ordered yet.
I am a big fan of Christmas. Home Alone, National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation and Trading Places are some of my favourite films. Red is our family’s favourite colour. I love the smell of real pine trees. It’s the only time of year I’ll eat warm raisins and not spit them out and ask what the feck they’re doing in my food. Eating a selection box for breakfast is all good for me.
I think you’re probably a fan of one or another, Christmas or New Year, rarely both and Hogmanay for me is always a bit of a let down. An anticlimax. It’s yet to live up to When Harry Met Sally expectations. I have never worn a shimmery black evening dress, coiffed champagne and been sashayed across the dancefloor. Back in the day when I used to at least pretend to make an effort my memories are more plastic pint glasses, sweaty rugby blokes trying to cop a feel in a busy street and walking home, freezing, having failed to hail a taxi, desperate to take my high shoes off and get my comfy draws on.
I’ve always felt like the only sober person surrounded by drunks, trying to smile and stay awake so I could say I was out for the bells. I don’t bother pretending anymore, I just stay in and grumble about what’s on telly. I mean, every year it’s the same old crap, programs attempting to whip you into a midnight frenzy, trying to make you feel like you’re out at a party enjoying yourselves. If we wanted to be at a party enjoying ourselves, we’d have gone out. Films. Just put on a few good films, that’s all I ask.
But Christmas also brings my annual angst about how it’s all a little excessive, obscene even.
I love having the holidays off and spending time with the family, our own little one and our extended ones too. We’re pretty honest and a bit selfish when it comes to what we do, and are lucky that we’ve never made plans out of obligation. I buy Good Housekeeping, pretend it’s a gift for my Mum as I’m clearly to young for such a mag, and try and bake seasonal things. The boy, who loves Christmas even more than me, gets excited about mid-November. One year he woke me at 4am and wanted to wake Miss L up to get cracking on the presents.
The whole present thing stresses me out. Miss L and Little P need nothing. At all. They have everything a four and two year old could ever wish for. Well, Miss L needs some bigger vests but still. I wrangle with how much to spend, I am the ying to my boy’s yang. He is a five star operation, with good taste and generousity. Without me acting as the social and budgetary conscious, we’d be knee deep in gorgeous lovely things. But I feel it’s my duty to haggle him down from such expensive designer gear to a half price toy from Tesco. Why, I have no idea.
I do struggle with the meaning of it all. Although I love love love it, I wonder if I have a right to. Am I just gate-crashing someone else’s party? I have no religion, I would struggle to explain the story of baby Jesus if I’m honest. I know the rough idea but the details are hazy.
But although it’s not about a named religion for me, it is about something other than presents. It’s a time for reflection. For spending happy time with the people that I love. To take a moment to pause from the hectic day to day pace. For sitting back and smelling the mulled wine. For noticing how lucky you are in life and reminded yourself how you should do it more often throughout the coming year.
And chocolate, obviously chocolate!