{27/10/2012}   “What are you doing for Christmas?”

Once all this Halloween nonsense is removed from the shops, it is with certainty I say that the marketing of Christmas will commence.  I am already troubled to see mince pies and the like with sell by dates long before Christmas.  I do like a mince pie though.  I have already seen small Christmas card and decoration displays but I have managed to ignore them as they are not the norm.  Yet.  However, I have already had my first few discussions with friends about what we’re doing for Christmas.  It seems that the reason people plan it so far in advance is because it is complicated and there are too many people to juggle and please.

I, however, have an easy job of it, indeed always have.  Christmas was only ever with both my parents and anyone else we visited or who came over was the only variant, but there was no pressure.  Now, my mum and I decide where we will spend Christmas (mine or hers) and that’s it, job done, and anyone else who wants to join in or invite us somewhere is more than welcome to do so.  It’s when children, grandparents and in-laws (or equivalent) are involved that it becomes problematic and I have none of that to deal with.  To some people with big families, I guess that may sound a bit sad.  But I’m used to small Christmases and I like it that way.  It’s always a special day because there are presents and we always have a really elaborate meal and my mum and I share the food duties, mixed with bursts of TV viewing, the odd alcoholic tipple, a long walk and posh snacks and nibbles.  That’s my Christmas and the thought of spending it with various family members and having to deal with a large group of people probably arguing a bit, etc, horrifies me!  Although that said, we’ve often had Boxing Day or the day after with family, but that seems different because there is a strange pressure about Christmas Day to have a wonderful time.

Some of my friends have an annual stress about Christmas, mainly where to spend it and who to spend it with, and there are often compromises.  It’s a shame that it can be a huge source of stress and it’s a shame that so many people don’t feel they are able to spend the day how they would most want.  I have another friend who, to avoid all of this, readily accepts work on Christmas Day.  That way she doesn’t have to get involved in discussions about where to spend the day and can have a Christmas meal at home, exactly where she wants to be.

As for people who get asked about Christmas yet have no family or no family they can visit, that must be hard.  Then it’s about your family of friends.  I have had two Christmases away from my family, both in Japan where Christmas isn’t a holiday.  My first Christmas there, while I would have rather been at home with my parents (though it would have been enjoyable for different reasons), was fantastic.  I had 11 friends round to my tiny studio flat and we all cobbled together as many Christmassy things as we could (from visiting friends, food packages from home and expensive “novelty Christmas” sections in department stores) and, with two hobs, no oven, no grill, an electric frying pan and two mini microwave ovens used as convection ovens we managed to cobble together a roast dinner, which most of us had to eat sitting on the floor with chopsticks, for there weren’t enough knives and forks.

It is sad that so many people get their noses put out of joint by Christmas planning but, weirdly, it’s all part of the Christmas tradition, whether you like it or not.  I realise I have absolutely no point to make in this post other than that it’s time to start thinking about what to do for Christmas Day and that it can be challenging.  But somehow, whatever you do, I feel there is a degree of appreciation for the bizarre traditions of family Christmases.  It does after all give us something to talk about when we go back to work, whether a great day was had or a dreadful day was had!


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