Friday 30 December 2011

For One Week Only

Christmas is a funny (strange) time of year!

If you are like me, you spend the whole year fearing it keeping it always just out of site in the back of your mind but never too far away because you know, even in January, that the next Christmas will sneak up on you like a lion stalking its prey.

The closer it gets, the more you start to worry about how you’ll ever afford it and every time another friend or family member has a baby, you try not to scowl as the ch-ching noise sets off in your head representing another £15 (give or take depending on relationship to you) you’ll have to spend out this year!

The next worry is how is there enough time to buy all the presents for everyone, and what the hell will you buy the couple that have everything this time after you know the novelty tea-pot cosy was stuffed in the bottom of a kitchen drawer last year?

Around October I begin the Excel spreadsheet. Every year I vow to start the shopping process a month earlier this time but when you are holding on to the last bit of sunshine and jetting off on your summer holiday in September, Christmas shopping is the last thing you want to be thinking about!

‘The Spreadsheet’ consists of a column for name, present idea, shop option(s), estimated price, actual price and notes. This enables me to keep track of how much I’m spending, what I’ve bought and who I’ve still got left to buy for…until about 2 weeks before Christmas where I lose track or any interest in keeping the silly spreadsheet up to date. You’ll notice the reference to I when it comes to buying? Yes, I do the buying for both of us in our family with Stuart just buying mainly for me, a present for Callum and any member of his family left in the week before Christmas – my choice, my nerves couldn’t take it if I left him responsible for anything else – some may say I’m a bit of a control freak!. My brain just wouldn’t cope without ‘The Spreadsheet’ – when we are staying home for Xmas dinner there will also be a tab for the food shop too!

The house gets turned into a tacky grotto the first week of December! Tinsel and baubles and dancing Christmas tree galore! Its so strange how I approach the day when I’ll put the tree and decorations up with such excitement and festive spirit when come the day after boxing day I detest the same joyful decorations and can’t wait to rip them down and return my house to its normal cluttered but less chaotic state. No fear that I’ll receive bad luck if the decorations are not down by the 12th day of Christmas – you are lucky if there are still decorations up at New Year in my house.

So, you survive the present buying panic (will there be a mad dash to the actual shops when the online shopping you bought back in November fails to make an appearance the day before Christmas Eve?), you’re all prepared, wrapped, ready to go and the big day arrives!

You know all that moaning and stressing above? Yes that drivvle and ranting above that you’ve just suffered through reading (assuming you are, of course, still with me at this point and not abandoned for a much more pleasant cup of tea with that last mince pie (of chocolate roll if you are me!)) – well you can now forget it all. Cross it out, scrap it! Cos its all worth it to watch your little boy’s face when he sees a stocking full of santa presents, to find the cookie eaten, the carrot munched and the milk & Baileys drunk, the wide eyes as he notices the previously carpeted floor transformed into a sea of brightly coloured and shiny paper, bows and ribbons.

The alcohol starts flowing early so there’s a new meaning to Christmas spirit! Everyone eats far too much! The same crappy cracker jokes cause the same unimpressed groans yet no one cares and we all laugh anyway as the silly paper hat goes on and we try to palm off the pointless mini photo frame prize onto our neighbour, while swiping the mini emery board to file that niggling nail and the mini pack of screwdrivers joins the other 5 packs from the previous years in the ‘everything’ drawer in the kitchen as, you never know, one day they might come in useful!

The joy that you get when everyone likes the presents that you’ve bought. To me, buying presents for people and watching them open them is such a selfish pleasure. When you take a risk on something that they could either love or loath and the risk pays off – they love it! You can’t beat that feeling!

So, for us, Christmas is over for another year! Its the 29th of December. It was a particularly successful year on the present front for both the giving and receiving! Even better, the decorations are down and I’ve found a home for everything!

On with the New Years Resolutions which will be broken by the end of January and then the Christmas fear will follow but, just for now, for this week, all that is forgotten again. For one week only, I love Christmas!

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