I did something for myself today. I went for breakfast with a friend, and we swapped stories of our shit year, and laughed, and caught up. And when it was time to go she said that breakfast was on her. And I said thank you and goodbye and wept a little in the piazza of Covent Garden. Because that little piece of kindness meant so much, especially at a time of year when ‘giving’ is a headline which often gets blurred into ‘buying’ and ‘spending’ and ‘being festive’.
I’ve always loved Christmas but the last few years it’s felt more mission than merriment. In years when, physically, I’ve been through the ringers of pregnancy and breastfeeding and sleep deprivation, and emotionally it’s exhausting bringing up little people whilst running two business without enough childcare and the constant fear of financial doom. This year we’ve lost a beloved mother, mother-in-law & grandma. And of course there’s the fact that the world has also generally gone to shit, so summoning up a bit of festive cheer this year hasn’t been so easy. Especially when you sink into bed, finally, and then remember you haven’t put the next day’s treats in the sodding advent socks.
Christmas is a time of year which can give you the warm and fuzzies, and can equally shine a spotlight on all the disasters and sadness of your life, your year. We love driving up roads with expensive houses and picking our favourites. I’m not digressing, bear with me. The ultimate accolade for me with how houses look has always been if they could be on a Christmas card. A wisp of smoke from the chimney and the warm glow of a fire inside. An imagined huge tree in the window twinkling with lights and love, perhaps an excited (but obviously angelic) child’s face pressed up against the glass. A welcoming wreath on the door and the promise of a full fridge inside (probably a Smeg) made perfect by a sprinkling of snow and magic.
And that’s the thing. It’s all too easy for the idea of ‘Christmas’ to be the perfect card version. So far this year I’m just trying to make it to 2017. My life right now is held together with battered safety pins and old blu-tac. I’ve had a cough for 8 weeks which I can’t shake because I’m exhausted, and is made extra fun by the fact that post-kids a full bladder and an over-enthusiastic splutter could result in a pelvic floor lapse at any moment. Happy bloody Christmas! I am a hot (usually mulled) mess who, this year, is more interested in a nap than a gingerbread bellini. We forgot to book a Father Christmas visit and totally bungled the whole letter-writing thing. We haven’t got a tree yet, which I keep saying is because we always get a massive tree and if we go too early it’s dead before New Year. Which is true, but really also I’m not sure I’m ready for the child/tree policing which then ensues with small children if you want there to be any baubles/pine needles/branches left by Christmas Eve. The house is a state and my mind is so cluttered with thoughts and ideas and to do lists, for work, life, everything. Never mind what stuffing I’m making and how I’m going to keep the turkey moist. Nobody likes bloody turkey anyway! I can feel the anxiety of extra things to do (smiling madly in this year’s hot new Christmas jumper no less) bubbling up inside me. Because it’s all a bit overwhelming really isn’t it?
And I’m not even putting pressure on myself for Christmas perfection. If we make it through with the right batteries (always forget the fuckers!) and without giving anyone food poisoning then that’ll be a win in my book.
I will get my jingle on soon (I hope, or it’s going to be loooooong month). And then it’ll all be stars and glitter and Christmas pudding vodkas. But just in case anyone thinks I’m skipping through the festivities baking mince pies and singing carols, I’m really not. My snowmen are definitely not in a row and I’m flailing about as much as the next person.
Luckily there’s enough gin in the house to sink a ship, so I might as well get bloody on with it. Christmas I’m turning you on and dialling you up, because I’m here and I can, and not everyone made it this year. I’ll be tinselling the shit out of December, because you can’t polish a turd but you can roll it in glitter. 2016 you’re going out with a bang.