It is. It quite definitely is.
A few weeks ago I wasn’t going to bother this year. I couldn’t think why. At the time I still wasn’t allowed drive my car. For four months the OH either did the shopping, or drove me to a shop and stood doing the foot tap until I had finished the supermarket dash and bought three items that I didn’t really want or three that I could manage to pick up. I lived off ready meals for four months. Only ten days ago, as I was full of anaesthetic, when I requested a prawn cocktail, he bought a giant (admittedly prawn) salad and plonked the box on a tray while he sat down to a steak and chips he had cooked for himself. I still haven’t had any lab results but I am beginning to recover from the surgery.
Finally allowed to drive, when I could do the shopping myself, Christmas became a possibility. I sat joyfully in traffic jams to and from toyshops. I was up until one o’clock last night wrapping them. I had to keep stopping when my arms stopped working. I’ve only decorated the porch, I couldn’t hang ornaments on a tree.
Then of course there is recent experience. The last five Christmases I have done for my mother, who loudly awarded points. Then there was the one before last when all the visitors stayed so long they made her ill and the doctor cancelled Christmas two days before the event.
Straight after we married my mother-in-law was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, so for the next five years I did Christmas for my in-laws and after, lived off fresh air, not to make ends meet, just to make them wave in a friendly fashion at each other. Then after my father-in-law was widowed I did several as good as I could until he suddenly met someone and we were dropped like hot potatoes.
So Christmas. It’s about (usually) women, bankrupting themselves and working themselves to a standstill, whether they are injured or not, or well or not, in order to provide for families so the families can sit in the best place on the sofa, farting, eating the best chocolates after the hugest meal and only lifting a finger to monopolise the channel changer.
When I complained the OH said ‘Right then we’ll go away to a hotel.’ I have the same objection to this as a holiday with any kind of addict, namely. what does the non addict do for several hours a day while the addict is doing their addiction?
It was a relief upon joining Al-Anon family groups to discover that I was not the only one dreading Christmas. For many years the OH has gone to the pub by the canal on Christmas eve dressed in a dinner suit so I could ‘get on with the work.’ Adding to it a dress shirt to be washed and pressed.
Now you might say it’s my own fault. That I should ask for help. Have you ever tried ringing a pub to ask someone to come home to lift a heavy turkey or vacuum a carpet? Have you ever asked a teenager to empty the waste paper baskets throughout the house into the dustbin? Have you ever let a drunk decorate a tree?
I rest my case.
Perhaps I am being perfectionist. I did wash the lounge carpet two days ago. Couldn’t have done it any sooner because of my arm so I did it then. Now my grandchildren can and will roll upon it without contacting plague. I think that’s good. And I dusted. First time in four months. And so on. I don’t just want things doing, I want them doing right.
The problem with Christmas is what it’s about. Not the religion, which is variable. Not the customs, which are different round the world. What it’s about everywhere are families. Have you got one or are you lonely? And if you have one just how rubbish is it? And why do I feel the need to supplement everyone else’s life by being kind to the critical, difficult, needy or just plain insane?
Just once a year, no matter how ghastly the family member we can hand them a stocking or a sprout with an enchanting smile ‘because it is Christmas.’
And really, for some relatives, one day out of 365 is just about do-able.
However you are, whoever you are with, or not, wherever you may be, whatever the weather has done to your house or lack of it, if you have lost someone and are having to make new traditions, or even if you are the lucky one holding the child looking out of the window for a flying reindeer, I wish you a calm heart, a clear conscience and that you may find the peaceful moment in this festive season.
Like everything else, it is inside of yourself.
Happy Christmas to you from me.