When I think of Christmas I have a picture postcard idea of how it should be.
We’d start by driving to a Christmas tree farm, traipse through the snow until we find the perfect tree, chop it down and then drive back home with it perched upon the car.
We’d spend an evening or two dressing the tree, enjoying the crackling warmth of a real fire as we carefully hang those years old family heirloom decorations.
A cold and frosty weekend would be spent baking the perfect Christmas cake, and perhaps even a mug of mulled wine.
Gifts would be bought, but only after careful consideration for each recipient, neither a sock nor Minecraft figure in sight.
Days and evenings would be spent visiting and hosting friends and family; our children would play nicely whilst the adults listened to Christmas songs, ate mince pies and didn’t gain a single pound.
We’d go as a family to Midnight Mass, before snuggling down in bed awaiting for Santa to arrive.
Eventually the big day would arrive and the children, full of excitement, would be gracious and thankful for each gift, dinner would be a roaring success followed by a walk before pudding. The evening would be a delightfully lazy slumbering experience, the tree lights twinkling as the children play happily with a train set.
Oh how I dream of my perfect Christmas…
The reality is somewhat different.
Our tree will be dragged down from the loft and reassembled from over 30 pieces in to one somewhat respectable looking tree.
Boxes of decorations will be unpacked, the shattered ones tossed away, some precious ones put back until I finally trust the children not to break them, and only then comes the tedious task of decorating with the kids “help”. The annual ‘Me v’s Fairy Lights’ battle will commence with much muttering, swearing and the odd electric shock.
Whilst I adore the smells of Christmas baking, I can’t stand Christmas cake, none of us can, so instead I shall sprinkle fragrance oil on pinecones and light up the candles, all whilst crossing my fingers and hoping the children don’t eat the pinecones and the candles don’t set fire to he kitchen.
Gift buying is a panic attack inducing form of torture. Crowds of bargain hunters scrambling for the latest must have gift whilst I ponder on the fluffiness of socks. Mounds of cardboard fill the recycling box and lists of batteries required for everything are added to the weekly shopping list and promptly forgotten about.
Visiting family soon becomes an ardours task as we fight against the tide of obnoxious shoppers and traffic delays. Hosting them isn’t much better as we scramble to find the gifts we just this minute finished wrapping and begrudgingly share the box of chocolates, all whilst muttering something about “why the hell would anyone rock around a Christmas bloody tree?”.
The night before Christmas is spent in a frenzy…where the hell is the tape? How the eff did I forget the batteries when they were on the list! The panic over the stores being shut for a day and whether or not 12 pints of milk and 15 loaves will see us through to Boxing Day. A paddy will be thrown when I run out of my favourite wrapping paper and a tantrum over commercialism when I see the DFS Boxing Day sale advert.
The big day will arrive with blurry eyes and hot coffee as the children rip in to gifts, destroying the wrapping paper without even looking at the awesome and frankly wonderful design.
Tears will be shed as they realise we didn’t buy them a Chinook, a baby sister nor a puppy.
One of us will have to run out in the cold to the workshop to dig around for a poxy screwdriver just to remove a toy from its packaging only to realise it needed batteries, not included.
Hours will be spent cooking a gorgeous dinner, which the kids will turn their noses up at. Tummies full from munching on the obligatory Christmas chocolates, biscuits and peanuts will mean neither of us fully appreciate the meal, but it’s okay because we’ll have bubble & squeak for days!
By the evening; hubs will be napping, the boys will be fighting over the controller for the Wii U and I shall be snuggled up in the armchair, admiring the twinkling lights of the tree whilst thinking “it could have been worse”.
Our Christmases are perfectly imperfect, and that is okay with me.