Much as I like the theory of ‘Keep Christmas in December’, it’s an impractical notion when you have a big family and a busy life and so, for the purpose of Christmas planning and shopping (though definitely NOT for trees or decoration), I am happy to let it start in November. I ordered my cards from Colitis & Crohns UK last weekend, ordered a few presents online and took a trip to Longbridge to the enormous M&S. Already I have made excellent inroads into the present list.
When my children were young I used to love filling their stockings and piling gifts under the tree. As they grew and then grandchildren came along I carried on the tradition of buying lots of little extras – novelty socks, chocolate, toiletries, a book, a cd or other bits and pieces that took my eye. But I have felt a growing weariness over these past few years as I’ve thought about what to buy, trailed around the shops and wrapped for our growing immediate family; Christmas was in danger of becoming a chore. There is no doubt that the season I had so enjoyed was becoming more of something to be endured. The cost was also getting out of hand – stressful in itself. What was once two full time salaries has been a pension and a part time job for some years now. We were saving all year to buy gifts for 26 even after we’d ‘knocked everyone else on the head’, so to speak.
Things had to change. Gone are all the ‘little extras’. Adults have been informed that they and the children have been allocated a reduced budget and each has been asked whether they want a particular gift or money. Parents of the smallest children have been asked to tell me what they’d like me to get for them and most of those things are now bought. My children are all supportive of this; they have even agreed that they will no longer buy presents for each other and have set a small budget of £10 each for nieces and nephews. They all seem relieved at this and it makes me glad that I took the bull by the horns.
One of my favourite things ever is to have all my children and grandchildren together but to cook lunch for them all together (as I have done at times) is just too much. Having them all in the house at once is too stressful but the cost of going out for Christmas dinner is prohibitive for the young families. Anyway, I enjoy doing it at home – just not for everybody at once. So this year I am hosting two Christmases: the first with eldest son, daughter and their families a little earlier in December, and the second for younger son and family.
So Christmas 2019 is to be different and, having made the decision, I already feel that a weight has been lifted.