October, and already the shops are filling with Christmas ‘cheer’. For the first time this year though, for us, Christmas is cancelled.
Now, I’ve often thought about cancelling it before. For a start, there’s the hassle of Christmas shopping. Fighting through hoards of harassed people to find gifts that you know will be gratefully received, but will probably be stuck at the back of the recipients cupboard for all eternity. The queuing to pay, only to eventually be served by thoroughly cheesed off staff who have had their brains fried by the constant loop of ‘Jingle Bells’, and ‘Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas’. Frankly, you’ve only been in the shop for ten minutes and you would willing smash the damn tannoy yourself.
Then there’s the long heated discussions about who is going where, and when. Which mum is coming to us this year? When are we going to see brothers/ sisters/nieces/nephews… ?? Are they coming to us or should we go to them? Who’s staying over? Will they want lunch the next day as well??
Once decided, there is the happy task of food/drink shopping. You park in the one spot left in the supermarket car park. The little one. Next to the bollard that you scrape as you pull in.
You get a trolley with wonky wheels that insist on going in the opposite direction that you want to, which makes you swear loudly, turning heads and forcing mothers to cover their children’s ears. The supermarket is packed with people all standing chatting in front of the aisles that you want to go down. The shop has run out of just about everything you’d planned to buy, and you know you’ll have to repeat the visit again before the big day. Yet still you end up paying over a hundred quid and having a trolley load big enough to feed an army, and somehow you’re going to have to find room for it all in the cupboards when you get home.
You’ll guess I’ve never been a big fan of the run-up, but I do love Christmas eve, when the wrapping is finished, the turkey is ready for popping in the oven the next day, and we sit down to watch ‘Carols from Kings’ with a glass of sherry.
I love the morning itself often dragging everyone else out of bed early. Even when my daughters were young, they were never ones for getting up at the crack of dawn it was always me waking them
‘lets go and see if Father Christmas has been!’
He always had.
The smell of Christmas dinner cooking while we ate mince pies and drank Bucks Fizz. Playing with the daft games. Eating chocolates. Lighting the Christmas pudding with Brandy. Falling asleep in the afternoon. Eating some more. Drinking some more. Playing raucous board games ‘til two in the morning.
Yes, overall, I pretty much enjoy the actual event.
But as I said, this year, for the very first time, Christmas is cancelled.
Our doctor daughters have so far been lucky with their shifts and have always managed to come home for Christmas. This year though, it’s their turn to work, one has to do a long shift on Christmas day and the other on Boxing day (though they live and work at opposite ends of the country – just an unfortunate coincidence!). So me and my husband will be on our own. For one reason or another, we won’t be seeing any other family either. It will be very weird.
Of course, we’ll try and get together at some time, either before or after the ‘big day’, and I’m determined that ‘our christmas’ will be exactly the same as everyone else’s whether it fall on the 1st December or the 1st January. I’ll still have to do the shopping and the wrapping. We’ll still have the tree, and the presents and the turkey, and it will still be brilliant. And I keep telling myself it won’t matter when we do it, as long as we’re all together at some point.
But secretly, whilst being really, really proud of my hardworking daughters, I’m still very sad that I’m having to write to Father Christmas and tell him not to bother to come on the 24th!
Written as part of the Writing 101 challenge – ‘think about an event you have attended and loved and you’re told it will be cancelled – your voice will find you’.