Aww, I love Christmas. I mean, I really love it.
It has always been a special time. As a child, it was all about the presents and I couldn’t wait to get at them first thing in the morning. And then there was the food, although we always had to wait until late in the afternoon to eat because after Church, my Dad would go along to a local hospital where the charity he worked with would deliver toys to the children there. But when he came home, we would eat until we were stuffed and then we would play any games I’d been given as gifts. And of course the television in the evening was always a treat, even though back then, there were only three channels to choose from…
But I think Christmas became far more important once I had my own children because seeing it through their eyes as they were growing up was simply magical and it was important to me that they really enjoyed it. I think they must have done, because now they are in their twenties they both insist that all the little traditions that we created along the way are still maintained, even though I pretend to be cross at why on earth it’s necessary, now they are all grown up!!
In actual fact, the thought of them getting married and having Christmas Day somewhere else freaks me out slightly and I always have to put that thought to the very back of my mind or I start hyper-ventilating!
I start to think about Christmas around mid-November when I try and order some cards from my various charities but apart from that, I refuse to do anything else until December as I always think it spoils things to start Christmas too early. I’m sure it is that sort of thinking that is responsible for me still running around on Christmas Eve, trying to get everything done!
But come 1st December, I finally cave in and start buying mince pies and stollen and I also get in the advent calendars! This year there was a near-riot when I told my twenty and twenty-one year old that I wouldn’t be doing that as they were far too old for such nonsense and my daughter virtually begged me to pleeeeeasse get her a “Where’s Wally” calendar. I asked her what relevance that bore to Advent and reminded her that if I ever got a calendar when I was young, it never contained chocolate and instead, had pictures of the story of the Nativity. She yawned and nodded and said that I told her that every year but she still wanted “Where’s Wally.”
Meanwhile, the boy was calling from university asking where his calendar was and when I said IF I got him one, he would get it on the 6th when we were due to visit, he was most distressed. He called every day that first week, asking if I could maybe post one to him. Of course, I refused. What is it with opening a little flap and getting a piece of cheap chocolate – why is that such a pleasure?? Anyway, it was the first thing he asked for when I took him all his treats on our visit! His flatmates looked on with a little envy as they complained bitterly that their parents hadn’t got them one and I admit to feeling very proud that I was such a kind, generous and thoughtful mum!
During those first couple of weeks in December, I like to try and get a few Christmas cards done each evening. It’s something that I love doing, while drinking mulled wine and listening to “White Christmas” for the millionth time. On the occasions when I have paced myself, I have had time to write a personal little note and enclose a family photo to the friends and family who are abroad or who I haven’t seen in a while….
That’s always the theory. But the reality is that I keep putting it off and then do them all in a rush in one go, drinking far too much of that wine that it makes our names more and more illegible as they are hastily scribbled on each card so that I’m sure the recipients never have any idea who they are actually from!
And then there’s the tree! If I am in panto, it usually goes up early in December as we’ll often have an after-show party on the first Friday and I like the place to look Christmassy for that. Otherwise, it goes up mid December. I’m not very good at dressing it, so husband and daughter normally do it while I shout instructions from the opposite corner of the room. like “there’s nothing on that branch” or “the fairy’s wonky”. I think my help there is much appreciated.
All this is always done with my favourite Christmas album playing, and you may laugh but that happens to be “Christmas To Remember” with ….Dolly Parton and Kenny Rogers !! Unbelievably, it’s on a cassette tape and I have had it forever and I LOVE it! It only gets played once a year, for the tree decorating, but I panic that one day, we won’t have a cassette player anymore (who does?!) and that it will be lost forever. I could download it but nah….not so magical !
It was while Dolly and Kenny were singing to us, as we were decorating the tree twenty-two years ago, that I told my husband that I was pretty sure I was pregnant. The look of wonder and surprise and delight on his face is something I will never forget. It was all confirmed that Christmas Eve and I don’t think I have ever been able to top that particular Christmas present since then.
On Christmas Eve, I am usually up at about 6am in a bid to beat the crowds to the shops as I will usually have forgotten something and am in crazy, stressed-lady mode. I stop by the butcher on the way back who finds our family a bit of a challenge because what we actually eat for the Big Meal is a subject for much discussion each year, that he inevitably gets drawn into. You see, the problem is that none of us actually like turkey that much! We are a family of lamb-lovers but all agree that Christmas Day really has to be about a bird of some sort. Over the years, we have tried a number of different options, but never really come up with the solution. For example, we have tried:
– a capon but it has too much white meat which is the reason we don’t really like turkey
– Cornish hen which are delicious but husband thinks these individual little birds are just too fiddly to eat elegantly
– the three in one bird, which we did a few years back. I think it was turkey, chicken and duck and I gave the butcher my own stuffing so that he could put it all together for me. I was really looking forward to it but in the end it was a bit dry….and bloody expensive!
– goose, but I seemed to be cleaning my oven for months aftwerwards and I don’t want to do that again, thank you
– duck, which was lovely but there wasn’t enough meat for everyone, which sent me into a slight, no, major panic.
So this year, we have gone back to turkey, which is what we inevitably do between each of these alternatives. It’s fine. It’s traditional and we don’t hate it – we just end up fighting over who has to eat all that troublesome white meat….which is usually me!!
Oh, there’s so much more to write about Christmas but I must stop because….well, I have loads more cards to write and today is the last posting date and there are still presents to buy and I can feel my stress levels starting to rise from somewhere deep within, because once again I haven’t been organised enough to really be sure about what I’m supposed to be doing.
Mind you, there’s still a week to go…..