I adore Christmas time, I mean, I really really love it, more than I can express. The twinkly lights, the gorgeous food, the open fires, the planning, the gift buying (and recieving), the shop windows and the Radio Times.
Christmas is guaranteed to happen, no one can take it away or cancel it (not even the Sheriff of Nottingham) and for one who had a childhood of uncertainty and flux the static nature of it was very important to me. It makes me feel safe. I simply cannot in any way relate to people who say they hate it, that its stressful, that cooking Christmas dinner is anything but a pleasure – really, it is only like a Sunday lunch only larger! But I can see now that there is anxiety attached when you have children. You want to buy them ALL the lovely things (thanks endless TV toy adverts – not) and make it an amazing time for them. Particularly as the window of innocence and magic for children seems to be shrinking. I can also see how for separated parents it can start to feel like you are entering a gift buying competition . I have felt the odd twinge regarding this but so far my ex and I have not entered into the arena with any seriousness. On occasion we will buy a joint gift if it is a big expensive one – her John Lewis Play Kitchen Last year is a case in point. We give each other pointers if she has mentioned anything in particular, so far so good. And plus, I bought her a puppy last month so I definitely win don’t I!!! Hey, he bought a kitten two months after moving out – he started it.
The only thing I cannot offer Lulu is a big family Christmas. On my side there is me and my mum and Lulu. On my ex’s side there are aunts and uncles and cousins, his old school friends and their families – he moved back to his home town when he left me. Not to mention his girlfriend and her children and her family. I can see it now. Carols around the piano, a James Bond movie…only kidding, they don’t have a piano. Goodness knows its hard enough as an adult not to fall prey to the adverts telling us how Christmas ‘ought to be’ – large cuddly happy families gathered for fun, frolics, feasting and festivities so I really hope that isn’t what four year old Lulu thinks it ‘ought to be’ because I would hate for her to be ever disappointed. Though it would be understandable. I had wanted to create the large family Christmas’ I had heard tell of but had never experienced. My ex husband’s family regularly organise get togethers which are full of love and chat and fun which I was part of but of course things are now very different but I want Lulu to love this time of year as much as I do, (but for very different reasons hopefully) and so far I think she does.
On Christmas day in my house we open ALL our presents as soon as we wake up and we have chocolate for breakfast if we want and we eat dinner late and we wear jammies all day if we want to, so on one hand having such a small select gathering means less ‘having’ to do things in a timely fashion as people are arriving or leaving or whatever and we can enjoy being together. I don’t believe that there is a formula for Christmas happiness – alone, together, at home or out, I think taking the time to be nice to yourself on Christmas Day is the best thing to do. My absolutely favourite quote about Christmas comes from one of my all time idols, the food writer Elizabeth David “If I had my way – and I shan’t – my Christmas Day eating and eating would consist of an omelette and cold ham and a nice bottle of wine at lunchtime, and a smoked salmon sandwich with a glass of champagne on array in bed in the evening.” (Elizabeth David’s Christmas – complied by Jill Norman. Penguin/Michael Joseph 2003).
Basically, no one else is ever having as much fun as you think they are, Christmas itself is just one day, and try and be nice to yourself.