I bloody love the run up to Christmas. For about three weeks of the year, I’m an elf-lovin’, cracker-pulling, turkey-troffing, snowball of Christmas spirit. I love the cold snaps, the big jumpers, the red wine in cosy houses. I adore buying presents for people I love and planning special touches that will make them feel thought about. I’m a walking, talking human Hallmark ad for all things Christmas. Until Christmas Day and then I am done.
Christmas as a parent isn’t the same. We all know that. NOTHING as a parent is the same. It’s not necessarily worse (OK, it’s a bit worse), it’s just different. For one thing, you’re no longer the one with the biggest pile of presents by your feet. In your younger years, you could rip through presents quicker than Trump through fake tan and STILL have some left over when everyone else was done. Now though, it’s more of an exercise in rationing as you mutter, ‘Oh no…you open another one. I’ll open one a bit later…’
I vividly remember feeling sorry for my poor mum and dad as they sat there with 6 presents total to open. I felt even sorrier for them when I remembered that one of those presents was from me and I’d ‘made’ it. I don’t know how my mum sounded so excited about yet another piece of jewellery made from ribbon and plastic beads (at least it wasn’t a pasta necklace!) but she managed it. Must have been the sherry. Anyway, the point is, I used to feel sorry for my parents paltry present offering and now, in a somewhat depressingly inevitable way, I find myself in the same position.
I’m not whingeing about how I want more presents – it’s not about that. It’s more about the realisation that, even though you’ve known since you were 6 that Santa Clause no longer exists, it’s really parenthood that drives the final nail in the snow-covered coffin. The magic of Christmas just gets harder and harder to hold on to as you find yourself drowning in lists that are titled with things like…
- House shit to do before everyone arrives
- Food shopping for Christmas Eve
- Food shopping for Christmas Day
- Meal planning for Boxing Day
- Presents to buy
By the time the day arrives, you’re delighted you’ve only got 6 presents to open because you’re so tired you can’t honestly find the strength to look excited about another jewel encrusted notebook and pen set from your Great Aunty Mildred who still, for some reason, thinks your 13 (God love her). Plus, any more presents to open and the turkey wouldn’t be in the oven on time, you wouldn’t have a minute to fill 4 black bags with 73 miles worth of wrapping paper and who the hell else is going to open the champagne at 8am and keep it flowing?
So, I’m not down on Christmas (although as I read that back it may sound as if I am). I definitely enjoy it while it’s happening but now as I sit here on January 8th, slowly settling back into a routine of drop offs, work, pick ups and bed by 9.30pm without the constant fuzz of booze running through my veins, I’m not sorry that it’s over for another year. And there’s the trade off: Christmas might not be brimming with the Disney magic of our younger years anymore, but there’s also no crushing disappointment on Boxing Day when the adrenaline is stripped from your soul and you’re left deflated, exhausted and overwhelmed.
Instead, we are filled with the optimism of a clean slate, another year, a fresh start. We are finding energy again that we didn’t know we had. The kids have gone back to school and we have room to breathe and take on the world and make something fabulous happen. So here’s to 2019 people…let’s take it by the balls and make the whole year magical.
Oh, and the 6 presents I did get were pretty bloody fantastic. Quality not quantity, right?