Not so sound too bah humbug about the whole thing, but thank FUCK that’s over for another year. I love the idea of Christmas. As it approaches, I’m overcome with a yearning to wear oversized knitwear, hunker down in front of open fires, clutch a glass of Malbec and snuggle with my perfect looking family, perhaps in matching pyjamas (underneath the aforementioned chunky knit).
In reality, this perfect tableau never materialises. More often than not, I’m warm because I’ve thrown a knackered, dubiously stained dressing gown over my clothes. We don’t even have a fire to sit down in front of and, even if we did, the chance of getting the four of us to sit around it at the same time is about as likely as Great Uncle Freddy not farting his way through the Queen’s speech.
When the big day actually turns up, you can’t quite believe you’ve fallen for it again. There’s no matching Christmas knits, there’s no picture-perfect present reveal. There’s no breakfast canapés or chilled glasses of prosecco. Instead, it’s like you’re living inside a snow globe that’s being thrashed around by an over-enthusiastic toddler. There is shit everywhere. Don’t even think about writing thank you cards – you’ll have no idea who gave what to who. Your husband will buy you a wheelbarrow despite the fact that you emailed him a link to the new kicks you wanted and the present you bought for your mother-in-law won’t turn up in time leaving you to flail around for a suitable explanation that doesn’t sound like you didn’t give a shit.
If you’ve got people at your house for the big day, I hate to break it to you but you’re going to look like shit. There’s just no way you can look perfect, cook a perfect meal and present a perfect house. You only have enough life manna to make one of those things happen and frankly, the meal has to take priority. People are, after all, putting it in their mouth.
Once you’ve spent all day making food, serving food, pouring drinks, finding extra chairs, washing up, making more food, pouring more drinks, eating everything in your way and doing the odd round of charades, you’ll feel less ‘full of the joys of Christmas’ and more full of After Eights, dry turkey and Prosecco. What’s more you’re probably a bit drunk and, due to being an emotional time-bomb, you’re in danger of telling Auntie Ethel exactly what you think of her tea-cosy embroidered with a badger chewing a leek.
If you manage to reclaim your house without offending a handful of family members and/or rocking in the corner then it’s still not over. The guests may have left, but they’ve not taken any of that shit they brought with them. You’ve got a year’s supply of crisps, nuts, chocolate boxes and brandy cream – none of which feature on your list of foods you’re going to eat shit loads of in January. Then there’s the pile of presents that have sat in the corner of the living room until now. Finding homes for all those bits and pieces is about as much fun as having to put the laundry away with your hands tied and a pogo stick up your ass.
It’s not that I’m ungrateful for any of this – it’s just that it’s ok to admit that it’s fucking hard work. I love nothing more than having a dining room full of people for a slap up meal but Christmas has become so much MORE than that. It’s Christmas breakfasts, Christmas parties, canapes, an ongoing bar service. It’s presents and crackers and games and 10am drinking. It’s spending all the money, eating all the food, seeing all the people. It’s constant cushion fluffing, dishwasher loading, sideboard wiping. It’s emptying the bins 73 times a day and sweeping the floor about as many times. It’s madness. Often wonderful, occasionally inspiring but always, always hard work. It’s not just a day, it’s a month. As the old saying goes, ‘Christmas isn’t just for Christmas…it’s for days.’
So, if you’re feeling a little depleted after Christmas and struggling to find the compassion in certain situations or the patience for any kind of bullshit…it’s normal. Be gentle on yourself and take January slowly. Hunker down, draw up the bridge and invite yourself over to other people’s houses for Sunday lunch and demand a constant supply of food and drink from the moment your walk in the door to the moment you pass out on their sofa.
Go get your own back babe.