It’s less than a month til Christmas. I love the festive period, but don’t love all the extra stress and pressure it puts on me to be suddenly well, happy and un-exhausted. None of my 3 diseases actually knows it’s Christmas, so inconsiderately don’t take the whole of December off.
There’s only ever been the 3 of us for Christmas Day: me, my Mum and my Step-Dad. My brothers have never invited any of us to their houses for Christmas dinner, or even Christmas tea come to that, which doesn’t bother me one iota but I know has at times upset my Step-Dad (their Dad).
This is how Christmas Day used to go for the three of us:
- Christmas Eve my Mum and I would spend the afternoon peeling veggies and organizing food for the following day. We both have EDS and Mum has severe Osteoporosis so by the end of it all both our backs would be breaking and my hands would have seized up.
- On Christmas morning I’d be up early to walk the dog, then gather all my presents in a humongous dustbin liner and drive the 7 miles to my parent’s house. Mum would already be busy in the kitchen or laying the table and barely have a minute to say hello.
- We’d sit for coffee and mince pies at 10am, then start opening our presents, which would keep being interrupted by the phone ringing with the Grandkids telling my parents what they’d received off Santa, my Mum’s siblings from Australia and my Dad’s sister, plus my mobile text messaging alert pinging like a piece of knicker elastic. And in amongst all that Mum would keep pottering backwards and forwards to the kitchen. It was chaotic and more than a bit stressful.
- By 11.30am the present mountain would be down to a present hill, but Mum would have to start putting the dinner on so she’d disappear for the next hour. She’d have to make 3 different meals: turkey for my parents, beef for my Nanna as fowl upsets her stomach (more on her later) and a Quorn roast for me. My parents’ kitchen is so small you can virtually touch all 4 walls with outstretched arms, so offering to go in there to help or chat was like squeezing 5 elephants into a Mini.
- Until last week my Nan lived in sheltered housing about half a mile from my parents’, so at 12.30pm on the dot she’d expect my Dad to drive round with her Christmas dinner on a tray. Where he’d stop for an hour while she ate and then opened her presents. Leaving my Mum stewing away at home that our dinner was going cold and getting spoiled – you know, the dinner she’d spent all morning slaving away to make. My poor Dad was stuck between a rock and a hard place.
- After dinner we’d tidy away, stack the dishwasher then head out to visit my brothers.
- By 4pm I’d be like a wilting lettuce, so would drag my arse home, get into bed and stay there til the following year.
About 5 years ago, after a particularly stressful, chaotic, exhausting and ultimately unfulfilling Christmas Day, I put my foot down. Enough already, something had to give. So we decided we were no longer doing a Christmas dinner. Instead we would have home-made soup and sandwiches, which could be prepared the day before. As far as my Nan went she could have a TV dinner and if her Daughter or any of her other 9 Grandchildren complained then they could cook her a proper meal – we’d done our bit for over 20 years.
The whole present situation was also out of hand. I’d have to save up the entire year to get gifts for people I didn’t ever see, in some cases didn’t even like, and who earned 5 times my salary. The effort of choosing, buying, wrapping and in many cases posting, all the gifts took me weeks and used up my energy reserve for the entire month. So while I was on, I put my foot down about that too. I now only buy for my parents and the dog – end of story. OK, it means I barely receive any gifts but that’s the price I choose to pay.
This is how Christmas Day goes now:
- Christmas Eve my Mum and I spend one hour preparing soup and sandwich fillings for the following day and the rest of the day lounging.
- On Christmas morning I’m up early to walk the dog, then gather my half a dozen presents in a Tesco carrier bag and drive the 7 miles to my parent’s house. Mum is calmly sitting on the sofa, coffee and mince pies at the ready.
- We start opening our presents, which keeps being interrupted by the phone ringing with the Grandkids telling my parents what they’d received off Santa, my Mum’s siblings from Australia and my Dad’s sister but it no longer matters because we have all day! I turn my bloody mobile phone off until I get home at around 6pm.
- This year, my Nan is in Residential Care and will be having roast beef and all the trimmings courtesy of the Care Home Chef, yayy 🙂
- We will finish opening our prezzies, then have a leisurely lunch of soup and sandwiches followed by some gateaux. There is virtually no washing up, so after lunch we can have a cuppa and open the After Eights and Ferrero Rocher.
- In the afternoon my Dad will visit his sons, while Mum and I stay at home. Sod ’em – they never visit me so I sure aint spending my precious energy visiting them.
- I will toddle home late afternoon, just whenever I’m ready. I will then spend the rest of Christmas Day on Facebook, or my phone chatting to my friends, inbetween watching Downton Abby and the Soaps on the telly.
- On Boxing Day, we will go out to a Restaurant where a Chef will cook us a roast dinner with all the trimmings. We will eat it, then leave all the washing up to him 😉
Now that’s what I call a Yuletide holiday!
You have no idea the relief of my new Christmas routine. Gone is the stress, the exhaustion and the expense and in its place is a lovely relaxed month where all I have to do is write some cards and buy half a dozen gifts which I spend all of an hour wrapping. I look forward to our stress-free Christmas Day and even more to our Boxing Day meal out. And I no longer spend the week between Christmas and New Year in bed feeling like I’ve been run over by a truck.
Stuff what everyone else does. Do what works for you.