(To be sung to the tune of the Coca Cola Christmas ad …)
A month or two ago, I was asked to write a piece for a national magazine on ‘family relationships at Christmas’. They say you teach what you most need to learn, so naturally I wrote about tolerance, seeing other people’s perspectives, not building huge expectations about the day which can only crash around your ears etc etc.
During a quick jaunt to John Lewis yesterday, it became apparent just how difficult a task that is going to be. It is the beginning of November, and suddenly I felt terribly inadequate for not having ordered the turkey, written the Christmas cards or thought about presents for the family. This Christmas for me has definitely got to be a two-day event, rather than the two-week fest it has been in the past. I have exams the week before, and more exams in January, so the ‘break’ will be an opportunity to revise. (I am finding it extraordinary that Hogwarts-sounding statistical terms like ‘direct oblimin’ and ‘orthogonal rotation’ are tripping from my lips. These are words (spells?) which I am absolutely certain I have never uttered before in my life until the last few weeks.)
So, I need to take my own advice over the coming weeks. I need to manage expectations – my own and those of my relatives. My in-laws (especially mum-in-law) love the Christmas festivities, and love to go completely OTT on presents, food glorious food and decorations. I am already feeling guilt-stricken that they may turn up to Bleak House instead of Tiny Tim’s. So, I am writing a little list today. The heading is ‘Essential Things’. The housework and Kilimanjaro-sized ironing mountain must be tackled, little by little. The Husband and Daughter must be drafted in to decorate the house. The Daughter loves this task, so this will be no hardship. However, she tires easily and the Husband may be required to complete the job. The Son must be issued with an eviction warning unless I am able to see his bedroom floor by mid-November. The Boyfriend of Daughter may wish to wear a long-sleeved shirt on Christmas day, or risk being quizzed extensively by the Grandmother on the meaning of his armful of tattoos and the health risks thereof.
It will all happen. And by 2 pm on Christmas day, my spirits bolstered by a glass of champagne, I will wonder what all the fuss was about.