Mainly because my daughter said I had to. She wrote on the calendar: no grinching allowed.
I do like spending time with my family.
I like having loved people enough to miss them when they can’t be here.
I like walking the dog.
I like having a break from work.
I like having time to catch up on work.
Whatever way you slice it and dice it: I am one mixed up kid and Christmas brings it all to a head like a pudding stuffed with sixpences, in a pressure cooker that’s long since boiled dry.
So stand back and cover your ears.
That’s it for this year folks. Back in 2015.
Crappy chocolate, candy canes, bad mince pies – or overpriced good ones, too much meat, dead turkeys, the smell of the cooking, brussel sprouts, all manner of dried fruits and nuts (which anyone over 40 well knows are the Main Enemy of Teeth), overeating, the stress, the compulsion to buy food, overeat and be stressed fore and aft. Standing in the kitchen hating everyone and hating Christmas.
Too much packaging, wrapping paper, crappy sellotape, stolen sellotape, spending money on things that people (mainly) hate.
Lights polluting the night sky and burning electricity, the competitive neighbours, the trees shoved in the front windows (see competitive neighbours), fake snow, winter wonderlands from October in terrible shops, baubles.
The Post Office: or anything to do with stamps and queuing and last posting dates. All terrible.
The loss of perspective
The crazy expectations
The mindless staring at the tv
The fact that my brain shuts down to cope and then doesn’t get going again until mid-January
The passing of another year closer to dying
Yes, that just about covers it.
PS My youngest daughter read this and called me a Scrooge. Maybe she’s right.
Because it’s there. It’s its job. It doesn’t answer back.
When given 6000+ words on subjects not of my choice I can only clear my mind by writing an equal quantity of words on matters of my own choice. This is, however, a knackering approach to life when combined with actual work and stuff. Yesterday was odd. I spent two hours in a meeting which gave me a bit of a headache. Some of it was about logistics; logistics give me a headache.
Then I was in work trying to finish a report (assignment), the title of which is too boring to repeat. It turned out it was nearly too boring to write and enforced sitting at the desk made me delirious. Fortunately I was sitting between two good colleagues who were unperturbed by my Tourettes-like muttering, gripping onto the edge of the desk, typing swear words to myself in bold, and generally interrupting them from time to time. One gave me some talking therapy, the other fetched me a cup of tea. I was careful to thank them when I left. I am sure they breathed a sigh of relief, amongst other things.
Then I came home and drank some Christmas spirit very quickly, so it wouldn’t really count, and went to bed at about 6 pm. I woke up later and could not move. I was definitely awake. It felt like someone was holding my left hand. Actually it was just twisted up under my head at an awkward angle, but, as I said, I could NOT MOVE. I had a pain in my chest. I wondered if I was having a heart attack. I remembered that which I usually forget, that I have a heart murmur – perhaps it was now fatal. Then I remembered that which I always remember – that I have scarred lungs. This never pleases me. I still couldn’t move but my mouth worked so I called for water and the asthma pump – the pump doesn’t work but I use it for its placebo effect – my daughter brought them, kindly but with harsh words you would reserve the right to use when your mother has taken to her bed before you do.
Then I wondered if this was the dramatic sudden onset of my annual Christmas chest infection. Anyway, I am still here. The QA/QIP report awaits me – I am hoping that getting all that off my chest means I can get on with it without having another attack of paralysing fatigue and delirium. You see, much of this stuff is all in the mind. Now I can leave it on the blog and I none of the above will happen…
We will see.
I can now soberly report that the practically zero effort Christmas dinner was well received. Nothing wrong with it, and better than that: not as disappointing as previous ones where heaven and earth were moved beforehand.
I did peel and chop my own carrots and sweetheart cabbage, and I did eschew the bag of brown turkey gravy at the BP. There are some depths to which even I cannot sink
a) buying their Wild Bean Coffee – no matter how much they beg me to
b) buying pre-made brown poultry gravy in a clear pouch *slight retch*
One of my most simple pleasures in life is boiling up a chicken carcass to make stock. I love picking out the bones and the gristle and the remaining skin and bits of meat to give to the dog, after thoroughly steaming up the kitchen. And I love the way the stock can sometimes turn quite opaque, and how the liquid turns to a golden jelly when it’s cooled. So, I would be happy to have you believe that I always have quantities of frozen chicken stock (in ice cube trays, if the prophet Nigella is to be followed on the matter) to call on for Christmas gravy.
The Pimping bit is chef’s secret…
Yesterday, when I was not buying BP gravy, but I was in the garage buying some other bits, I was happy to be served by the fella with waist-length hair. I prefer him, or Dan who reminds me of another Dan I know, to patiently bear my messing up the card machine for the umpteenth time. One of the women, Charlotte, is the most earnest coffee and pastries flogger ever and I am a bit intimidated by her; she makes me feel I am only a heartbeat away from caving in to her demands and ordering four coffees and twenty doughnuts. Anyway, yesterday I greeted yer man seasonally, to be polite, and asked if he minded working on The Day. Not at all, he said, it gets me out of things. Presumably pimping the gravy being one of them. Then he said
Bah Humbug and gave me this.
Now that’s a quality Christmas transaction.
It used to be that I did make a bit of an effort with the Christmas dinner. I was cured of that by the Kelly Bronze turkey I dragged home from Borough Market on Christmas Eve with my customary Christmas respiratory complaint about seven years ago. That year I had made a pilgrimage to order it a week or so before, and then forced myself out to collect it in freezing conditions not compatible with my consumptive state. The only reason I made it home was the restorative shot of single malt at the butcher’s counter, with the BBC’s Jeremy Bowen for company; that was before they sent him off to Israel.
Anyway, I somehow heaved the mahoosive bird home and, in an even worse state of health on Christmas Day in the morning, was so sickened by the smell of the cooking bird I swore I’d never again a) travel that far for a bird b) pay that much for a bird c) defend the dark, free-range leg meat no-one wanted.
So between now and then I’ve dodged the issue by eating elsewhere mainly. I did do a Christmas dinner here about four years ago. I think there were crackers, something I realise I have forgotten to provide today, but who needs a party hat and compass anyway?
So that’s the preamble, here’s the confession: the whole Christmas confection has come from under this star (apart from the carrots which Alan Bartlett & Sons kindly grew for me). Note, this is not any old BP Christmas, this is an M&S Christmas. Ho ho ho.
There’s a epilogue to this sorry tale, eventuated by my not being able to resist popping into the BP Garage this very day to buy twiglets and fresh orange juice. I’ll see if I can relate that after the Queen’s Speech…
I might not really like Christmas, or the snow, or doing my assignments, but that doesn’t mean I’ve tipped over into unremitting doom for the festive period…
When I was a kid we used to visit my Nan and Grandad in Camberley, Surrey. They lived on Everest Road, only notable for once having a real rabid dog down the road when my mother was young and now for being, coincidentally where my cousin and her family live, albeit just round the corner.
It’s all army accommodation and they had a 4/5 bedroom house with a Mayan terraced garden that backed onto a wood.
In this garden my Grandad grew fruit: gooseberries, raspberries, blackcurrants maybe. All soft, shiny baubles the birds loved to nick which meant that he, in turn, could curse the birds, but not really. He also grew a money tree and had a yoghurt well; I think that’s it (I may need a collective family memory on that one).
Anyway, the point being that at the house at Everest Road, in the bathroom, there was quite a wide expanse of dark grey to black lino that was flecked with a mess of fine white squiggles and splodges. I used to sit on the toilet and stare at the floor and see faces and shapes in the random patterns and on every visit I would try to re-find all the faces and shapes I’d remembered from before, plus perhaps some new ones. I can’t remember what they were now, but it is a habit I can’t seem to stop. Not that there’s any lino in a bathroom to stare at any more, but there’s still sea and clouds and sand and sky and, currently, an awful lot of frozen ice.
That’s why, in the absence of anything seasonal to say, and the complete failure to send any Christmas cards to anyone I care a figgy pudding for, I thought I would share a couple of hearts I have spotted this year whilst I’ve been out. They aren’t allowed to be manufactured ones, they just have to be shapes I find when I’m looking hard, and when I’m not.
As much as stick my fingers in my ears and my hands over my eyes, the Christmas season continues in all its relentlessness; not unlike this plant down the road. If it is a forsythia, and I think it is, it shouldn’t be out until Easter. I don’t like it anyway, my sympathy lies with the fence.
On the upside, at least it’s not a poinsettia. Now, I really hate those: the leaves always drop off the moment you have bought them.
*2 weeks to Epiphany
The kids are now 8 and 6 and have always been guided in the need for a real tree at Christmas by me. Now there is a mole in the camp and they are *whispers* demanding an artificial one.
I wouldn’t need much excuse to cancel Christmas being a bit of bah humbug anyway, but the only thing I do look forward to is fisticuffs in the garden centre 48 hours before the event over the last real tree. Then I especially like all the difficulty in transporting the 6 foot fir home and I relish the festive moaning about the pine needles dropped in the car and in the house.
This morning the children (who had clearly been counter-briefed at some point this week) made the following accusations about a real tree:
There is no room (there is loads)
They would not be able to feed the fish without spiking their bums (they don’t feed the fish I do and I am hard)
The dog might pee on it (well he might)
It would drop needles everywhere (that’s the point)
It is always too big???
Apart from the fact it is way too early to think about Christmas, or trees or suchlike I am clearly going to have to consider my position. Added to the rearguard action from the kids, I heard a programme on the radio this week that suggested that many of the real trees we have at Christmas are propagated from cones collected in Georgia where people are working 60ft up in trees, with no safety equipment and for little pay. Now I am going to have to think about that issue too.
Last year I bought a modestly sized real tree with roots and put it back out in the garden on the Epiphany (another source of dispute) for the dog to pee on. Someone, during the course of the year, decided it was proper dead (it was not) and cut it up and burned it, presumably to make double sure I couldn’t drag it back in this year. If that hadn’t have happened I wouldn’t be here now writing this rubbish and wrestling with my conscience about Georgian fir cone pickers.
Damn and blast bloody Christmas.