Wednesday, 18 December 2013

Christmas Past and Christmas Present

I bought sparkly shoe decorations for the tree. Daughter and I chose them. Husband said there was nothing Christmassy about shoes, and I said quite the opposite.  I said I always used to buy new shoes for Christmas. And a new bag. And a new dress. And...
Because Christmas used to be completely different. It used to be all about me! For me at least. It was about the nights out and the clothes, and new stuff and fun.
And now it's all about daughter.  And of course it should be, because she's small and full of wonder and delightful to buy dresses and shoes and hair things for, and of course give Santa a helping hand. I wouldn't trade all the fun we had in the old days for a single second of watching her beautiful face shine with delight when she sees her pile of presents.  None of it. Not the carefree single days, not the early days of romance, not a thing. We get more excited than her. At five and a half, she's still never woken before us on Christmas morning. We have to tell her he's been! And it's all wonderful, because she is wonderful, and there's no time like Christmas to count your blessings.
But it is a far cry from Christmas past. I don't mean as a child, because they were wonderful. The slide in the living room year was a particular favourite, and I think very fondly of the year I got a plastic hob and pans, obviously where my culinary prowess stems from! Like everyone, I grew up and Christmas became all about the socialising, and buying clothes for the socialising. I don't know how I afforded it. The first outfit was for my early December birthday. Then Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, Christmas Day night, Boxing night, New Year's Eve and finally New Year’s night.  And there could be no repetition, not in that short time frame. I was talking about it with my friends at the weekend and we all remembered just how much more Christmassy it seemed. The local on Christmas Eve, where we knew everyone and everyone knew us. Some years on to a club, some years back to a house party. It's probably the old rose tinted specs, but I can't remember a bad Christmas Eve. I still really like Christmas Eve, even though it all seems like a rush and it generates its own to do list. Last year the iron blew up and I had to brave a well-known catalogue style retailer so Husband could go out looking respectable.  There's usually a family meal, and then later on the getting ready for Santa ritual; the sprinkling of the glittery reindeer food, the carrot, the mince pie and Husbands convincing argument that Santa likes Jack Daniels.
Then comes the big day itself.  What's not to get excited about? I used to enjoy getting ready while Christmas Top of the Pops was on, and then Father, Sister and I would head off for a festive drink while Mother got on with the serious business of the dinner. We always went to the same pub and used to bet whether it would be a jumper or a tie year for the men. Now, me and husband are awake early, wondering whether we can wake her, trying to make that call on whether seeing her open her presents now will be worth the tired grump later. Then the joy of watching her open her gifts, which seems to take forever. Then it's action stations, either visiting or getting ready for visitors, and making sure the Sky box is set up. In my single youth, I used to go out on Christmas night. It was invitation only to the local, and of course we were invited. Some years we even had tickets for a club! On Christmas night! Now all I can think about is the new pjs and book and lying on the couch!
Boxing Day is always a bit less structured, I think. It used to be good recuperating time, before the onslaught of the night, but now it’s family time and involves more visiting/ visitor activities, which are usually good, especially if Daughter and Niece can be together. But Boxing night used to be a really good night out. It was as though everyone had had their fill of family time and needed to let their hair down. Pub, club, or in my ballroom days, dancing, and it's another one I don't think was ever rubbish. ( don't think I've got a selective memory here, I do remember loads of the Christmas nights finishing with 'I should have stayed in' and every single New Year’s night being absolutely rubbish). Boxing night was usually finished off with a pick from Mother’s Boxing Night Buffet. (When I say a pick, I obviously mean heaving plateful) and then it was time to take a breather until New Year’s Eve.
So things are very different now from 15 years ago. I haven't bought any new shoes for my own feet. Yes, I did buy a dress for the girls night but it was an absolute steal....I don't know that I miss those days, but I do look back at them fondly. I certainly look back very fondly on being provided with a feast without lifting a finger or spending a penny! But at 6am (or whatever time we wake her, not able to wait a minute more) and our sleepy eyed girl will get it the middle of us to open her stocking, not sure whether she wants to go back to sleep or press on with the swag more, there will be no better time. One thing hasn't changed though. The first thing I will eat will be chocolate. It's Christmas, why not!
Merry Christmas!

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