Christmastime as a child was so magical; a time to binge on chocolate, fester in your pyjamas and hope that you get everything on the ludicrous list that you sent to a bearded fat man. The only worry is missing your school friends or your ‘merry’ family embarrassing you.
As an adult, Christmas is a very different affair. You avoid sociable gatherings as it means more presents to buy and a need for clothing other than your princess dressing gown paired with big comfy pants because, well, that’s apparently frowned upon.
You find yourself binge-eating from the stress of organising or drinking to excess because of the guilt of not getting everything on that bloody wish-list (as much as I’d also love a ‘real rainbow unicorn’ or a ‘glowing ipad’ it’s a bit of a stretch).
I grew up spending alternate Christmases with my parents who were separated; it was awesome, we got to have two celebrations and double the presents. I don’t feel nostalgic about having a Christmas all together as they separated when I was very young and I knew no different. Now, aged 27, I find myself in a similar situation, as my girls go to their dad’s on alternate Christmases and it is much harder than I remember it being as a child, really bloody hard in fact.
I miss my children terribly when they are not with me (I almost forget how annoying they can be. Almost!!) but I have to admit that the worst thing is the guilt, that just possibly, their dad will pull that rainbow unicorn that they have been longing for out of his hat (or a less comfortable orifice) and all of your hard work to make the day as special as you can afford, will be forgotten.
When did life become so materialistic? I often sit worrying that because they have more expensive gifts elsewhere they will forget the fun we have, focusing on objects rather than memories. My five year old recently said to me ‘I got you a gift, I ate everything on my plate and now you don’t have to wash up’ it was a gift; because although I still had to wash up, it is rare for her to finish her dinner, especially without a tantrum so to me this was the most thoughtful present, you can keep your gift box of Baylis and Harding!!
This year I decided to focus on making memories, we have four Christmas trees in our house (one each) with what ever colour decorations the children wanted, we wrapped tinsel all the way up my staircase (I was informed that tinsel is not in fashion this year, but I’m not sure it ever was?) A truly festive house should look like Santa’s elves went on a piss-up, then projectile-glittered all over your house. It’s all a sensory experience for the little ones.
I wish I could go back to an age where I thought the idea of a plump, bearded man emptying his sack for me on Christmas morning was magical but these days that doesn’t seem as appealing, a bottle of wine and a new pair of slippers will do just fine.
About Hayley Shirley
Disney obsessed, rainbow-haired, unconventional mum of three. Making it my daily mission to never grow up.
Image credit: All that Glitters, Keith Williamson, Flickr 12/12/2014