We (I) set aside a day for unearthing the decorations, checking that everything still works and putting them up in an effort to look vaguely Christmassy. I live in a house of bah humbug hypocrites (I still love them though). They are quite happy to receive the benefits of Christmas – different food, presents, no college/Uni/work – but trying to get them to help with the decorations or even write down what they want in the Christmas book – it’s one of those camel and eye of needles jobs.
Yes, I have a Christmas book – several actually – dotted around the house in carrier bags that I put in a safe place and later forget where that safe place was. When I eventually unearth one I scan the pages to see if everyone got what they wanted last year (or two, three or four years ago), then rip out the old pages and start badgering people for ideas.
Trouble is – as the boys have become older and want money or DVDs or bits for their computers, the whole skill of Christmas shopping has vanished. For years I bought an assortment of weird and whacky items for my husband until in a rare moment of clarity I noticed that most of them sat in the sparkly gift bags I’d lovingly placed them in and were untouched for the rest of that year and several others.
We had one of those full and frank talks and he confessed that – coming from a household where one or two presents was the norm – he found my generosity a little hard to cope with and would rather have just a couple of presents that he really wanted. Of course finding out what those presents were has proved a challenge over the years as he doesn’t usually know what he wants either. This year his page in the book has ‘Book from the Institute of Advanced Motorists’ , a pair of YakTracks ( he had to put those down because we bought them together), REAL fudge and ‘a part for one of my markers – I don’t know if I can get hold of it yet and it’s a bit expensive – about £45 I think’ . (Paintballers will recognise this comment).
My eldest has ordered his presents from Amazon courtesy of my account and my debit card. He may use some of his precious time to brave the crowds and go shopping for a new coat with his old friends from college but for the rest of the Christmas holiday he will be sleeping, eating, ironing his extensive wardrobe of mainly cotton-based clothing and sitting up all night chortling at American TV. Pretty much what he does at Uni but putting aside the going out with his flatmates to get gloriously drunk in York – Liverpool or Manch may be the choice of venue for a while but only until the (our) money runs out.
eBay and some dubious-looking army-surplus type online stores have provided my six-foot two-inch baby with the grungy-looking camo gear he wears when shooting his friends with small white plastic pellets. It’s called ‘Airsoft’ and the back garden is covered with these pellets because he likes to lean out of the bathroom window and practice shooting at the garage.
Needless to say – I have had to wrack my brains in order to fill several pages with the books, DVDs, perfume and jewellery that I desire. My excuse is that having a birthday in January this gives my loved ones the opportunity to buy my birthday presents in the sales without having to ask me what I want. I buy a lot of them for myself and hand them to my husband for wrapping – he forgets about ordering things until it’s too late and getting them myself avoids any domestic crises. It does mean however, that I have to make it clear which list is for which event – there have been a couple of occasions when I particularly wanted something for Christmas only to find it had been wrapped up in less Christmassy paper and put aside. The gap between the 25th and the 12th of January is sometimes just too long and I have had to re-negotiate sometimes.
Sine Mum died – just over two years ago now – my Dad has played a large part in our Christmas and while I find it hard going to bend my own males to my will regarding festive matters, all three of them can be guaranteed to put themselves out for my Dad. This means that my eldest will get up before midday to join us for Christmas lunch, and my husband will take special care to put together a food package that will ensure my Dad only has to use the microwave for the next week to recreate my lovingly prepared Christmas lunch when he’s taken home after dozing off in a chair with the rest of us on Christmas afternoon. My baby boy hasn’t eaten Christmas lunch with us for several years. He doesn’t like turkey and prefers to eat bacon super noodles and pepperoni heavily laced with Tabasco sauce in the privacy of his room. He may deign to join us later and pull a cracker or two but after suffering numerous strop-laden Christmas Days where we forced him to sit with us – this is a much better option all round.
At half-past four I go to work. I always work on Christmas Day evening – I’ve had quite enough of everyone by then and going upstairs to the office to be on-call for other people’s Christmas crises is a cleansing experience after all the excesses.
So back to the present – today will see us stowing away the decoration boxes for a couple of weeks and a huge shopping trip with the eldest – who has NO food that he likes in the house – one thing he shares with the youngest (who will text or call us during the shopping trip to ask us what he wants). The main difference between the two boys being that whilst the eldest eats whatever is bought as long as he chooses it, the youngest has butterfly tastes and what he loved and craved yesterday is absolutely disgusting today. Sometimes we will eat up his excess purchases but more often than not they end up in the bin when we clear out the fridge. Talking of which; husband and youngest defrosted the freezer yesterday. It took three hair driers and several old towels but was done speedily and in a very scientific manner – allegedly – they sounded like they were having a good time anyway.
Oh, the Christmas tree lights have just come on – looks like the timer needs a bit of adjusting but it really is beginning to look a lot like Christmas.