christmas, Personal ramblings

Christmas is coming – and I’m all tired out

Well this week I've been mainly feeling exhausted.

I think there isn't a mother on earth who isn't exhausted.

(I know that I should mention fathers here too – and you're probably right, it's a parental thing rather than a maternal thing. But this blog is about me and right now I feel like a mother who is exhausted!)

I finished work for Christmas last Thursday, and since then Chiswick Boy and I have mainly been hanging out and taking it easy.


Which means that we've been enveloping ourselves in lots of Christmas films and hot chocolate – but not much running around Christmas shopping.



Sleep, sleep – can't get enough of that blessed sleep

I was tired before I had a child of course. But then I had more freedom to do something about it.
I remember leisurely lie-ins at Oxford, or going back to bed after the weekly tutorial. (Following the weekly 'essay crisis', as we called these all-nighters fuelled on Marlboro lights, coffee and jacket potatoes from the kebab vans parked outside the Oxford colleges.)

Photo from

Then after university, fresh-faced and in London, weekends were for staying up for half of the weekend, and sleeping through the rest of it.

Even in my late twenties and very early thirties, there was the freedom to 'have an early night', when there was nothing to do, noone to look after.

And of course 'having an early night' then didn't mean crawling into bed and falling asleep. It meant reading in bed, or journalling, and luxuriating in clean sheets that only you slept in.

Christmas chillaxing

So although London is filled with a myriad of seasonal things to do – lights to gawk at, shows to see, walks to walk, shops to shop in, Christmas to me means a time to hunker down and just be.

Chiswick Boy and I have been making paper chains, sticking cloves into satsumas, making mince pies and listening to Classic FM from dawn to bedtime.

And Christmas shopping has slipped down the agenda. Chiswick Boy will have a healthy selection of goodies under the tree of course, from us as well as from Father Christmas. His wish list is always small (one thing on it this year) so I augment it with treats and surprises.

But this year we're going on holiday for New Year and so the focus is even less on presents, as we'd rather use any spare cash for treats while we're away. Although it's not the money that is the issue, it's the faff of it all.

In fact this year we've made the move of deciding not to exchange any adult presents (of course I'll still buy for my mum – and Chiswick Daddy and I have a couple of small token-esque gifts for under the tree). To be honest, I think that all my aunts and uncles who are joining us for Christmas Day are relieved at the 'no presents' rule. Everyone is suddenly alleviated from the anxiety of buying presents in that manic week before Christmas.s

And we won't have to get down from the dinner table early to start the mammoth task that is the opening of presents. Instead we can concentrate on the main event – the meal and the parlour games that follow, rounded off by a great singsong.

It's the one thing money can't buy

I didn't use to feel this way. I used to love getting presents and love giving presents. And I also used to take great pleasure in seeking out fairly traded or locally sourced gifts.

But this year the afore-mentioned exhaustion has got the better of me. I see people struggling with presents and the massive wealth redistribution that is present manic buying and just can't be bothered. (And once again, lest you get the wrong idea and think that I'm all pious and non-materialistic, we ARE going on a massive holiday after Christmas – so we are all massively spoilt!)

I know it's a cliche (buckets at the ready as my dad would say, were he still with us), but the present I want most can't be bought: we're still trying for another baby and that is the thing I want more than anything.

In fact, at the risk of sounding self-pitying, the wanting each month and then the disappointment each months has been emotionally draining. I blogged about this a few months ago, and the guilt I feel at feeling disappointed – when I have so much to feel grateful for, and am blessed with an amazing son who is the centre of my world. When I know some families are suffering from loss, or from illness, or an inability to start a family.

A bit about dad

So actually ten years ago I was in a Midlands town for Christmas, with my dad at home for Christmas as a respite from the hospice where he had moved when the oesophageal cancer became beyond hope of recovery.

He was only in his late 50s.

It was a strange Christmas, making happy when you know that it will be your last Christmas together. But we treated it as my family does everything – with wit and very dark humour.

I remember my mum and I arguing in the kitchen over how often we needed to baste the goose. When we heard a shuffling noise. My dad had risen from his bed miraculously and headed to the kitchen to give the deciding verdict on how and when to baste the goose.

“You've actually woken me from my death bed for this,” he delivered acerbically before shuffling back to bed.

We had a good Christmas. My brother gave me a magic kit and I did the worst magic show in the world, which had everyone in stitches. I gave all the men lucky dip boxes that I'd assembled myself with silly party bag fillers and jokes from the party shop in Clapham Junction. We watched Miracle on 34th Street and the Coronation Street Christmas Special, which my dad insisted on. He got a version of Harry Potter in Ancient Greek from his brother, which he was delighted with and started on straight away.

He went back to the Hospice a couple of days later, and on New Year's Day we took him for a family walk in his wheelchair, through the Peak District.

In the photos he looks as though he's in his late 80s.

He died the next day.

It's the one thing money can't buy

I didn't know I was going to write about my dad, or my want for a baby, when I started this post. I was going to write about the Christmassy stuff we'd been doing over the last week.

But blog posts are like life really – you can try and plan them but in the end they just go their own way.

I hope you have a bloody marvellous Christmas. Whether you celebrate it by eating lots, or having a wrapping paper frenzy of unwrapping, or go all quiet and cultural. Just make sure you celebrate it.

Because life is too short not to. And I love Christmas.

Pass the Advocaat.


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