Family and Parenting

Christmas Can Suck My Baubles

Every year when November rolls around, I get caught up in the excitement, and every year Christmas does not live up to the hype. It’s not that I hate Christmas, it’s just that it never quite delivers. So this year, I’ve decided to do the wise and mature thing and not expect too much. Limited expectations means limited disappointments. At least that’s the theory!

We’ve already decided to go out for lunch, ergo no limited arguments about which parent we eat with. It also means we can wake up at home and go to bed at home, which is a novelty in itself as far as Christmas Day goes. (And probably wise given our daughter’s love/hate relationship with sleep…)

I am holding out high hopes (I know – must manage those expectations!) that these small changes to our usual schedule may result in less stressful festivities. Because just contemplating all of the many, many ways in which the holiday season leaves me fatigued is, frankly, fatiguing…

 

1. Forced Joviality

‘Smile, it might never happen!’ – never was a more patronising remark made. ‘Gi’s a smile, Luv, it’s Christmas!’ is a close second (though I’d venture this is more insulting). Being jolly based purely on the date is absurd tomfoolery.

 

2. Secret Santa

The contrived process of allocating names (I have never taken part in a Secret Santa which remained secret); the budget with which you are assigned (and expected to purchase the perfect gift, no less); the pressure of buying for somebody you either don’t know or don’t like? Tedium incarnate.

 

3. Office Parties

Awesome when you’re twenty-two and gleefully anticipating the opportunity to ‘inadvertently’ bump – or grind, I don’t judge – into your office crush under the mistletoe. Otherwise this is a disaster waiting to happen. No office Christmas shindig is complete without a wayward booby/Wendy in accounts telling the boss he’s a filthy old perv/Kevin and Ang doing the dirty and Kevin’s wife arriving unannounced. *cringe*

I'm a closet Scrooge and here's why. Do you hate Christmas too?

 

4. Christmas Freedom

Being stuck in the office on Christmas Eve and back in there between Boxing Day and New Year should be against the law. When that was my reality several years running, the wonderful, elusive, beautiful notion of freedom elicited such excitement in me. And yet somehow, it hasn’t quite measured up to my expectations. Here’s why…

 

5. Commercialism

The best thing about being outside of an office during the week is the quietude.

But from midway through November, I can’t go anywhere without being inadvertently fondled by strangers (also known as having my personal space invaded).

Besides which, an obligation to spend a lot of money on people who often don’t even speak to me for weeks at a time is just weird. And yes, I resent it.

 

6. Shopping with a Toddler

Unless you live under a rock, I am confident I don’t need to explain this one longhand.

 

7. Controlling the Cr@p Bought for My Child

Throughout the year I drop subtle – and not so subtle – hints about our daughter’s bank account. And our lack of space at home. And her many, many toys. But, naturally, it would be churlish to do anything other than be grateful for Yet. More. Crap.

 

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8. Buying Cr@p for Others

I think I spend more time thinking about what to buy for others than I do actually shopping. Then there’s the Annual Budget Debate with my husband (if he was given carte blanche we would probably have remortgaged the house by now). Knowing that gifts will inevitably be wrong and thrown to the back of the cupboard inclines me towards frugality. Soz.

 

9. Wrapping Cr@p

If I had ten days in my weeks instead of seven, I wouldn’t mind allocating one of them to wrapping those unwanted gifts; it can actually be quite therapeutic. But I struggle to justify spending hours making something look pretty when it will quite literally be torn apart and thrown in the bin.

I Hate Christmas

 

10. Spending on Paper and Cards

See above. (Wouldn’t it be great if they brought out paper money for smaller denominations? That way you could save yourself the trouble of going to a busy shop to swap your hard-earned tender for paper that’s specifically designed for the job of parcelling goods, and simply wrap your pressies in cash instead! I might put this one to our local MP.)

11. Exchanging Gifts (Awkwardness)

I feel under so much pressure to react the ‘correct’ way when I open any gift, that I’ve developed performance anxiety.

I’m not kidding; I hate opening presents in front of the bestower – even if it’s the perfect gift.

 

12. Gift Guilt

I know you don’t give to receive; duh, everyone knows that. They just don’t believe it. And what’s worse than spending a fiver on a funny token pressie, only to be rewarded with a very thoughtful and very expensive gift in return? No, no, it’s okay, don’t guess – let me tell you: to be the recipient of the cheap gift. I’m not talking resentment or envy or anything so crass. No, it’s the embarrassment!

(This is the reason my husband and I have the ABD Every. Single. Year. Dissecting our familial interactions throughout the year is an imperative in order to identify that sweet spot of what we anticipate receiving, so we can ensure we reciprocate appropriately. This should be an Olympic sport.)

 

13. Packing

Bad enough when you are two, adding a baby and toddler into the mix is not my idea of fun.

 

14. Lugging Sh*t Around

Loading the car to return home, laden with gifts in addition to all of the things (see above) is like a life-size game of Jenga or Buckeroo: you’re only one false move away from an obstructed windscreen or an awkward trip to A&E.

 

15. Finding Homes for Unnecessary Cr@p

Of course when you make it back, you have to find somewhere to put all of your new crap. And his new crap. And the children’s new crap. (I have a dedicated space in my bathroom cupboard for unwanted toiletries – they’re fab for re-gifting. Just be certain to retain tags to avoid an embarrassing situation of ‘I loved it SO much I bought the same for you’…

 

16. Gaining Weight and Feeling Sh*te

We all allow ourselves to indulge over Christmas, and rightly so if we’re relatively good for the rest of the year. But personally I can’t stand feeling bloated and sluggish and spotty and gross. Is it worth it? I’m on the fence because in stressful family situations it’s basically the law to get drunk and eat All. Of. The. Treats.

 

17. Boredom

You know how the first night at Mum’s with the siblings you’ve not seen for six months is loads of fun and full of hilarity? Ever noticed how it just gets better and better thereafter? Nah, me neither.

I Hate Christmas

 

18. Fitting Everyone In

Maybe the worst of all. You’re lucky if you’re parents are still together: divorce is prevalent among the Baby Boomers (I wrote about how we’re doing marriage better here). And this makes Christmas that much tougher on the children and grandchildren. First you have to choose between families (his or yours), and then you have to pick your favourite parent – or at least that’s often how they’d have you feel. #christmasguilts

 

Do I Hate Christmas?

As I began writing this list, I thought I’d struggle to reach ten points I could write solid reasoning for. And then EIGHTEEN tripped off my fingertips without me even thinking hard about it. I think it’s time to accept that I am, essentially, a closet scrooge. I don’t want to be – I fight it with every ounce of strength (considerable, thanks to toddler weightlifting). Alas, the ghost of Christmas Past would have his work cut out with me. Despite my wishes to the contrary, the truth of the matter is there are many aspects of the holiday season I detest.

That said, I’m not completely giving up on myself – I am still totally determined to take my girls to Lapland in a few years time. And I Can. Not. Wait. Yes, I know it will cost close to one thousand pounds per day – or approximately SEVENTY PENCE PER MINUTE. And yes, I am inclined towards thriftiness. Yet I still think Lapland is totally worth it.

Now I come to think of it, I’d quite like to do New York at Christmas too (but only if there’s lots of snow). And I adore festive films! I want to experience yuletide as an innocent child again. Ultimately, I’m a big kid at heart and resent the fact that I am now an adult and as such, if I want Noel to be magic, then it’s my responsibility to make that magic happen.

So, do I hate Christmas? It’s probably fair to say I’m in love with the idea of Christmas. But the effort that goes into making that sh*t come together? Bleughhh.

By the time I’m done wrapping presents, the only Christmas spirit running through my veins is going to be 20% proof.

Until Lapland anyway.

So apparently I hate Christmas! Do you identify with these Christmas stressors, or are you a diehard festive fan? Let me know in the comments!

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10 Comments

  1. Sian - The Mama Story

    Dec 14, 2015 at 6:19 pm

    Hahaha yes it can be so much more hassle than it’s fun. We’ve cut back on presents, activities & expectations this year and I feel good for it. There’s more to cut back on next year though!
    #TheList

    1. Kate

      Dec 14, 2015 at 7:58 pm

      Hey Sian,

      I hope this approach works for you, and your family have a fab Christmas! In my opinion, Xmas should be about the simple things anyway.

      My plan is much the same as yours, but it’s probably an inevitability we’ll end up busier than we’d choose anyway! (My husband will do the driving though, so if it all gets too much I’ll just hide in the corner and quietly nurse my wine/port/Baileys/all of the above.)

      Have a great one! x

  2. Carolyn

    Dec 15, 2015 at 3:23 pm

    This is all so true! I agree Christmas is usually an anti-climax, but it is lovely to spend time with family (although there is Also family (ie the in laws) that you have to spend time with which the littlest amount of time the better! So funny about wrapping presents in cash, although it definitely wouldn’t look as pretty. #twinklytuesday

    1. Kate

      Dec 15, 2015 at 3:52 pm

      Oh, I wholeheartedly agree – I love spending a couple of hours with my family at Xmas. It’s the subsequent hours when siblings have regressed to childhood bickering that I struggle with! And yes, the blessed in-laws, naturally…

  3. Anna Brophy

    Dec 15, 2015 at 8:25 pm

    I think you need to go slap on a ridiculous woolen reindeer jumper, pop on some carols and pour a big glug of wine…fortify yourself for the next 10 days, ‘cos Christmas is coming in hard and fast. Good luck and Merry Christmas! #TwinklyTuesday

    1. Kate

      Dec 15, 2015 at 9:30 pm

      Sounds like your Xmas MO is the same as mine, Anna, because that is exactly what I intend to do!

      Have a great Christmas.

  4. Amy @ Mr and Mrs T Plus Three

    Dec 17, 2015 at 12:29 am

    Oh you and me are like peas in a pod on this! I really couldn’t agree more especially about the buying of crap, I don’t want any more rubbish plastic toys and I don’t want to go out and waste a load of my hard earned on all the ‘cousins’ when I know they don’t want the crap either. Also hate opening presents in front of anyone and the worry when you exchange with a friend that you’ve spent/haven’t spent enough. Agggghhhhhh thanks ever so for linking up to #thelist x

    1. Kate

      Dec 17, 2015 at 1:32 pm

      Haha, I think I’ve divided opinions with this post! It’s good to know I’m not alone in my tendencies towards Scrooge.. Thanks for the opportunity, love #thelist! x

  5. Jo B

    Dec 18, 2016 at 8:16 pm

    Totally agree with all of the above! Not to mention being a tough time for lost loved ones. But I’m determined to make this year a goodun, not via crappy presents or awkward family arguments but by living in the present and just going with the flow. Enjoy all the oddness and awkwardness the day brings xx

    1. Kate Tunstall

      Dec 23, 2016 at 6:07 pm

      Good for you my lovely, I hope your day is special, you deserve it xx

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