Mama's columnist on the list of things mums have to do at Christmas
Words Jo Wimble-Groves
Alright, hands up. Who loves the ‘spirit of Christmas’? I would imagine that most of us do. The music, the wine, the food, the wearing of silly sweaters. The list goes on. But, as much as I enjoy the festivities, there are just a few things I want to get off my chest. I’m sure you all can relate to this.
The Build Up
I’ve got some friends who are already buying up Christmas jumpers. Really? I have politely reminded them that it is weeks till the big day and they should not be thinking about this yet. And beware cheap, numbers – they are a walking fire hazard. Take my advice and invest in understated cashmere that will see you through until February. A little less Noel Edmonds, a little more Rosie Huntington-Whitely. Well that’s the look I’m hoping for anyway.
Back to the ‘too soon’ note: let’s talk about Christmas decorations lighting up shops by the end of September. Trust me, I went into John Lewis last week. When did Christmas start so early? Last year it had me thinking that by mid-November I should be making a gingerbread house with the kids. I wouldn’t recommend this. In my head it was going to be a masterpiece, but in reality, it was a congealed mess. By the time it was Christmas, I realised I may have peaked too soon.
Last week my husband asked me if I had pre-booked my Ocado delivery yet. He thinks it might be ‘wise’ for me to get a ‘good slot’. I can already feel my stress levels rising and, what is equally annoying, is that he might be on to something. These get booked up in June it seems. The race is on.
This year, it’s my turn to host. I don’t mind, but they will have to bear with me while I get stress over the cooking. Unfortunately, I’m not a relaxed domestic goodess – a little more Keith Floyd, a little less Nigella. So, when it comes to Christmas, expect burnt canapés and you can only be pleasantly surprised. I can only apologise in advance. It’s a vicious circle you see; I have a glass of wine to settle my nerves while I put the turkey in. I then pour myself another glass once everything is in the oven. Half an hour later and I’ve forgotten the times I placed said items in the oven. Queue more wine consumption.
But it’s not just the buying and the cooking, it’s the calories that freak me out. Everything is cheesy or chocolatey. Puddings, mince pies, cakes and lashings of butter. It’s a miracle we’re not dead from gout before the Queen’s speech. I worry we’ll have diabetes by the New Year.
When it comes to buying presents for the kids, there’s always those ‘must buy’ toys that nobody can get hold of for love nor money? It is so frustrating. A few years back it was all about the Elsa doll from Frozen. Remember that? In a flash they were out of stock everywhere. My daughter was adamant it was the only thing she wanted and nothing else mattered. After searching the entire country, I managed to get one online but I had to pay a ridiculously inflated price. I was so resentful at shelling out almost double the cash, but what could I do? On Christmas morning, I couldn’t wait to see her face when she opened the wrapping paper. Naturally it started with a hug and a squeal of joy, which made me feel like the perfect mother (for a few moments). Half an hour later and the doll had been tossed aside in favour of the chocolate coins. Not winning.
Sometimes I feel like one of the few remaining people who still send actual cards. Well, me and great auntie Sylvia. It makes me feel quite smug when I remembered to post them out. Even to those people I hadn’t spoken to for a whole year – expect Christmas card spam people. Sorry, not sorry. However, as much as I love a good card, the requirement for them, especially at Christmas, seems to be fading away. The keeping-in-touch element has now been replaced by social media. So who’s sending cards this year? Should we, shouldn’t we? # firstworldproblems.
So, if all of this is the ‘spirit of Christmas’, perhaps that’s why we need the intake of so many actual spirits to get us through it. Gin, whiskey, brandy – you name it. Did you know that gin-filled baubles are now a thing? They wouldn’t last long on my tree with all the festive stress I have to deal with.
But, at least as Christmas day draws to a close you can sit back and switch on Call the Midwife while rummaging through that tin of Quality Street until your child shouts out “muuuuuummmm, Father Christmas forgot to give me batteries for my remote control car”. Dammit. Now I really do feel like a Guilty Mother.