Christmas eh? The most magical time of the year and of course, for anyone over the age of twenty, the most stressful.
Every year it’s the same for me. I start out full of hope that I will glide through proceedings like butter on a basting turkey. All gifts will be bought by the beginning of December, I shall decorate the house with tasteful elegance, the presents will be wrapped by the time the children break up from school and I shall welcome my family with open arms and a joyous heart.
It’s just not possible is it? I watch White Christmas and It’s a Wonderful Life each year and dream of snow, snow, snow and a world that doesn’t exist. Every year, I strive for something that cannot be achieved and every year I wonder why.
The truth is I’m not organised enough to get everything bought and wrapped in a timely fashion; my brain is too chaotic and flits from task to task like a flea on a dirty dog. Also, I don’t really do elegance at Christmas; I like tinsel too much and lametta (look it up if you’ve never come across it; it’s glorious) and that spray-on snow stuff. Plus I’m always tired by the time Christmas comes and therefore my patience threshold is almost non-existent. You can imagine how I react when a visiting family member makes an ill-advised comment about anything. Anything at all. In fact I don’t react, I usually just fume because I’m too tired to do anything else.
Of course, when you’ve written a book called, ‘Not Quite Perfect’ as I have, you come to realise that life is just that. In addition, my children have a warped sense of humour and love to tell me grinningly that their dinner, my clothes or the weather are, ‘not quite perfect’. You reap what you sow, my friends.
You also learn a great deal from your children. My father often says that his children taught him everything he knows and I think that this is best exemplified at Christmas.
Most children face Christmas as they face life; wide-eyed and hopeful. They don’t see the planning, preparations or stress. They see sparkle and magic and fun.
There’s an excellent book called, ‘Becoming a Writer’ by Dorothea Brande. In it she urges us to see the world as children do, with innocence and an absence of cynicism. This is excellent advice, not just for writing but for life too.
So this Christmas, I’m going to try and see what my children see. Yes. I’ll no doubt get stressed as the day approaches but I’m going to make a conscious effort to step outside that stress from time to time; to see the magic and enjoy the sparkle. Christmas may not be perfect but it should definitely be fun. Now where’s my bag of tinsel?