Have Yourself a Peri(menopausal) Little Christmas
Don't you love all those helpful "how-to" articles around at this time of year, telling you how to have the perfect, stress free Christmas? Here's mine.
Start making the food you can freeze in advance in November.
This should ensure that by mid-December you have no idea what’s in your freezer nor whether it’s for general consumption or for Christmas. On Christmas Day be prepared for left over chili instead of your carefully prepared stuffing.
Update your Christmas card list.
Be sure and send that round-robin letter that everyone finds so adorable.
"My dears, what I year we've had, I'm exhausted just writing to you about it! Iago was Joseph in the school nativity and Desdemona was made Head Girl. Cassio finally has a job in IT but insists on still living at home"
Ignore the fact that no one sends Christmas cards anymore because they are sending emails and donating to charity instead.
Shop for cards and wrapping paper.
You definitely bought these in the January sales but now have absolutely no idea where you've stashed it (likewise your glasses, your phone, your mind), so have to buy more. The stuff you bought in January will miraculously appear on Boxing Day when you will put it in “a safe place” until next year.
Make a gift list and budget for each person.
Your masterpiece of an excel spreadsheet is just a guideline of course and when you start actually shopping both will go completely out of the window as you alternately mutter “HOW much?” and “Oh my god I haven’t spent enough on X” and then blow the budget on something completely inappropriate.
Wrap your gifts as you buy them.
This ensures that you will completely forget what you have bought someone (because you didn't update your spreadsheet) and necessitate unwrapping to jog your memory before yelling “Oh my god I haven’t spent enough on X” (see previous)
Wonder whether it’s too early to open the Christmas Baileys.
Who even are you ? It's never too early - in the day, or the year
Order your Christmas tree.
Only amateurs measure to see if it will fit in the house. Buy the biggest tree you can. When it arrives cut the top off and any lower branches that prevent it from fitting in your 12x12 foot lounge and you will be left with the tree you should have bought in the first place. Scatter this year’s tasteful Scandinavian decorations across it and be sure to place any embarrassing homemade decorations round the side where no one can see, yet you can still claim that they're your favourites.
Leave it and forget to water it for the rest of the Christmas period.
Start boiling your sprouts now.
Don’t forget to put the crosses in the bottom of them in case they’re not cooked through by the 25th
Plan your big day menu
Even though you've been cooking Christmas Dinner since your mid-twenties, read every article about how to make perfect turkey/roast potatoes/Christmas cake in case someone has come up with something amazingly different to do with sprouts in the last 365 days.
Watch Nigella on YouTube on repeat.
Cry and eat an entire box of Lindor
Order everything from Sainsbury’s/Waitrose/M&S/Fortnum’s (delete as appropriate)
Realise you’ve left it too late and the only remaining delivery slot is 3am-4am on 24 December.
Shop for that perfect outfit
Spend hours schlepping round your nearest shopping centre becoming increasingly fed up as the day goes on. You realise that the perfect dress which covers your bingo wings, fits your cellulite-addled-thighs, and creates the most fabulous cleavage all in a fabric that won't give you a continuous hot flush all day only exists in your dreams. Or it’s £2500.
Mail your cards.
This will cost the national debt of a small country and you will now wish you’d just sent emails instead. Or copied and pasted that message on Facebook
Wrap any last minute presents
This is all of them because you failed to “wrap as you buy”. You will spend five hours one evening wrapping gifts whilst drinking Baileys (the third bottle you've bought since 1st December) and keeping one foot on the door so no one barges in and sees anything they shouldn’t. You will be sick of the taste of sellotape after 30 minutes because you can’t find the dispenser that you bought in the January sales and put with the wrapping paper you still can’t find. One or more tags will be attributed to incorrect gifts due to the Baileys consumption.
You will also realise that you have completely forgotten someone which will mean you must dip into your stock of…
Last minute gifts
Those little things you have collected over the past few months which will make do if someone gives you a surprise gift. You didn’t do that? Ok, scrabble around with the dust bunnies under the bed until you find the Body Shop gift set you received last year but never used and re-gift it. Hope and pray that you are not giving it back to the person who gave it to you.
Take delivery of your groceries
...which you forgot were being delivered so went to bed only to be rudely awoken by the delivery van at 3:16am. Count the number of substitutes and wonder what you will do with the 3 bottles of white wine vinegar that has seemingly replaced the Puligny-Montrachet you were due to enjoy with your turkey on Christmas day. Eat another box of Lindor balls for breakfast.
Deep clean the house
Wipe the mantelpiece and vacuum the obvious areas. Kick stuff under beds and into cupboards. Check bedlinen on the guest bed is clean. Realise it isn’t, but as it’s the same people staying over as last time, a quick burst of Fabreze and all is well
Run turkey under hot tap because you didn’t allow enough time to defrost it properly.
After your beautiful children and other half have serenely opened their presents with delight and gratitude, whilst sipping bucks fizz (you) and hot chocolate (the kids), lay the Christmas Dinner table.
At this point you will remember you dropped and broke 3 plates last year and 3 people will have to make do with a Thomas the Tank engine melamine plate and two paper plates left over from a summer BBQ.
Check the sprouts
Drink some Baileys.
Sweep up more pine needles
Drink the wine meant for the gravy
Wonder what mind-altering substance you were on when you bought your child a lightsaber for Christmas.
Eat dinner surrounded by your nearest and dearest, ignoring the fact that the gravy has soaked through your paper plate and dripped onto your new (ill fitting) dress.
Drink the brandy reserved for lighting the Christmas Pudding which you forgot to put on to steam and now are trying to cook in the microwave without rendering it to the texture of cardboard.
Fix tree lights for 5th time
Stop the cat eating the turkey carcass
Stop the dog eating Lindor balls
Stop the child eating Lindor Balls/drinking vodka shots (delete as appropriate) before vomiting occurs
Play latest totally incomprehensible board game/Cards against Humanity
(delete as (in)appropriate)
Fall out with family
(Seriously, how did we get through 6 bottles before Christmas Day?)
Make up with family
Fall asleep in chair thankful that you don’t have to do this for another year.
Realise that it is Boxing Day tomorrow and you will start all over again.
Know that you will also find the wrapping paper you bought in the January sales and the frozen stuffing you couldn’t find yesterday.
Remember that quote that you were trying to think of when you were wrapping your presents..
"It's not what's under the tree that matters, it's who's gathered around it"
*A version of this post originally appeared on Life and Love in London in 2015.
Photo Credits: IanSlaterPhotography