Friday, 8 May 2009

Just One Day

Originally Posted - 23 Dec 2007

Well here it is again. Christmas almost upon us. Am I any more organised than I was last year? Hell no! Back in October I decided that as the start date of my new job was fairly imminent that I would start getting cards and a few gifts. Not feeling very festive back then I felt unenthusiastic about choosing my postal offerings and opted for some bland non-me type thing, on getting them home I decided to lessen the chore by writing just 5 cards a day, that way the chore of writing some 70 cards to people that hardly cross my mind and that I never see let alone particularly care about would be spread out into easily digestible morsels, should have been so manageable, such a small task to complete each day. I wrote about 25 and was easily distracted from my target and now it is 2 days before the big day and my unwritten cards still remain in their box and half of the written ones sit there staring at me with the accusation that I have not posted them……again!

I don't know why the spirit of Christmas evades me these days. It is only a few years ago that I still relished the run up to it, excited like a child to get the tree decorated (though I must admit to stubbornly refusing to put it up before any day in December and usually resisted until around 2 weeks before – what looks wonderfully Christmassy and jolly quickly becomes a dust-collecting clutter that is happily dismantled and put away before 12th night!). Even in the days when I worked selling cosmetics and fragrance and my days were filled with the prospect of vague, fraught shoppers, endless amounts of gift wrapping for lazy or unimaginative men, late night shopping hours and the presence of Christmas decorations, music and products from as early as September I still loved the whole excitement of it all.

Over the last 2 or 3 years it just seems to be an awful lot of hard work and obligation to do the right thing, and all for JUST one day.

When my girls were small it was thrilling, to see their excitement build to almost frenzied proportions, the need to secrete all gifts and maintain the illusion of Father Christmas, letters to Santa, visits to him, hoping to God that he looked at least a little authentic and wasn't some 25 yr old with a crap beard, in fact even going to see for yourself pre visit to check he had at least a few wrinkles and that his suit wasn't made out of nylon! The thrill of Christmas eve, the effort of trying to keep things fairly calm and normal, meal time, bath time, bed time and the knowledge that you would surely be woken in the wee hours by a little face hissing excitedly into your sleepy one that "I think he's been!!". And when you were sure they were sound asleep, tiptoeing like a pair of un-practiced cat burglars bringing down the hidden swag, arranging them in seemingly ever more enormous piles and squeezing small gifts into their stockings, never minded that while their presents mounted annually, your pile dwindled pathetically as relatives and friends opted to 'just buy for the kids'.

Oh what happy days.

But of course now my girls have grown and although the pleasure of giving hasn't lessened it has that bitter taste that its all about how many gifts and have you spent the same on each, they are not greedy girls at all really and don't always ask for a lot but the pleasure of getting things that will surprise and intrigue, mystify or thrill has gone. It was the little things that were the most exciting to buy for them now it is always things that have been put on the Christmas list. Now my nieces and nephews are older I don't know what they like, what they are into, what they already have and gift buying gets so much harder.

Christmas day is spent with my parents, we used to alternate at whose house we spent it but for the past 15 years, since Mum became unwell it has been down to me, I have never minded, I love entertaining and love preparing both the food and the table and their gifts, I'm in my element. My brother lives away and doesn't get to spend Christmas with us often as his partners family live closer and they usually go there or stay home alone (they have never had children so are selfishly free to be totally indulge each other, of course they have missed out on all the lovely things I wrote of earlier but they are at least able to please purely themselves which I sometimes envy) When they are with us it is an injection of fun and a change of conversation, new blood around the table. This year they won't be here and I am sorry. My parents are elderly, Mum frail, Dad getting so. They are both hard of hearing and have limited appetites and little tolerance for alcohol. Although it is lovely to have them round they do very little these days to chat and gossip about, so they reminisce, Dad especially, about growing up and the War, about us as children and family holidays. Their deafness means that jokes have to sometimes be repeated at least twice for them both to hear the punch line, it is both amusing and frustrating.

There are times I yearn for an alternative Christmas day, maybe holiday abroad, go away to a hotel, and spend it with friends not family. But my parents are both into there 80's and I dread it being the last Christmas for one of them and me not having spent it with them. We all have these obligations to those supposedly nearest and dearest and although in these latter years I have at times longed to break free it is after all JUST one day and there are another 364 to do other things with other people in other places….

So despite my little bah humbug moment, despite my un-mailed cards sitting glaring at me (I'm going to bin them tonight to ease my guilt), despite the lack-lustre feeling I get for gift buying, I know that once it is all over I shall look back with a warm glowy feeling and feel satisfied that another lovely day has passed.

To all my lovely friends (and some of you that read this that are not on my friends list and do not make yourselves known) I wish you all a very Happy Christmas, may Santa leave you lots of lovely gifts, may your stuff yourself silly on fine food and may you look back on the day with a smile and a warm heart.

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