This blog is for ‘P’. I have to admit, Christmas can be a dark time for me. As a child, in a house where we had so little, we were often ‘wound up’ by Christmas with expectations. I would always want the latest ‘Cindy’ doll and would get the fixed limb, in a cellophane bag alternative from Par market and I knew, that by the 3rd of January, every consumer fixated child in my class would be waving their genuine article under my nose, just to remind me of what I didn’t have.
I’ll admit, I was a miserable child, who was socially isolated and felt sorry for myself most of the time. I left home at sixteen and spent years balancing a chip on my shoulder that my feeling were my parents’ fault. They weren’t at all; I was just a mopey child. I grew out of it. I managed to get over the ‘I hate Christmas’ thing for the sake of my children. I didn’t have any money and compensated for that with credit cards and paid for it eventually. I know that isn’t right but I didn’t want my children to feel the way I did.
You see, the biggest problem about Christmas is caused by the social expectations of the whole thing. As soon as I freed myself from the expectations, I felt a whole lot better. As my children got older, they could see we didn’t have much money ourselves and yet they could see that we had so much more than other people. (I made sure I brought my children up in a busy urban area and they were never socially isolated)
I know I don’t have fun at Christmas and to be honest, the word ‘fun’ sends me running to the hills. I don’t know anyone to get invited to parties and I don’t know anyone to invite the round. There are things I do though, which make me so happy. I make mince pies and then take a plate to Gerald (in his late 80’s) next door and we sit and have a glass of sherry with him. We also go and see him on Christmas morning before his relatives come and pick him up for the day (he has a huge and loving Cornish family).
I have created minor Christmas traditions of my own and they make me happy. I make presents, partly because I like making things and partly as I refuse to get on the commercial band wagon. The only cards I will send, have to have an image Jesus on them. I don’t over do it. I treat myself to a free range organic chicken from the butcher and go to the trouble of ordering it and collecting it on Christmas eve.
I play Christmas music and will have Corelli, Berlioz, Bach and of course, Handel playing. In fact, I collect Christmas music and look out for CDs from jumble and car boot sales. I make mulled wine and love the smell of it. I light cinnamon scented candles.
I also enjoy winter far more than I did. I make sure I get out for a walk whenever it is dry enough to do so. Bodmin moor is on my doorstep and I love crunching through the frost in my wellies and seeing my breathe steam in front of me. I enjoy shutting the curtains and the battle to keep warm, I see it as a challenge I can cope with and win. I’m not old yet so I can get through this, but at Christmas, I turn the central heating up to tropical temperatures and it makes the house ‘different’ at Christmas.
I don’t enjoy the mad dash to relatives and try and deliver gifts on boxing day or afterwards. It all calms down between Christmas and New Year and that’s when I like to go visiting. I also accept that people are doing things at Christmas and often just want to stay home and not come to lunch if I invite them. Sometimes we go to relatives and sometimes they come to us, sometimes we see our grown children and sometimes we don’t Sometimes we have Christmas to ourselves and indulge in long lies in, late lunch and going somewhere for a walk and having the place to ourselves.
I make my dogs Christmas dinner too, it’s just another of my traditions that I’ve created for myself. Dearly Beloved and I always make each other something and we always make each other a card. It’s what we do.
I don’t spend any extra money at Christmas, I eek a bit out a week between September and December to buy a few cards, a bit of wrapping paper, put money buy to give my grown up kids money and to buy them something they’ve asked for. I look out for bargains for people who I know wouldn’t like a homemade gift and have already bought a few.
When Christmas day actually comes, it’s more like a normal Sunday for us. It’s about being home. It’s about cooking with the radio on, it’s about having a something nice to eat with pudding too and a sit down with a glass of wine. I remember that Jesus was born, sometime around then, maybe in the new year but don’t get too worried about the date. I remember that we have a culture created around us being a Christian nation and that there is nothing in particular that Jesus would want me to do in the middle of December. In fact, if he came round my house, he would like the homemade gifts, the way I celebrate the event in my own way and that I don’t ‘do’ commercial. He would eat with us, put his feet up and watch the ‘Guns of Navarone’ and nod off in the warm, just like we do.