Thursday, 20 December 2012


Of course, I am completely UNDER CONTROL! (Well, obviously not if it is well past midnight and I'm  shouting at the computer screen....)

So how are you getting on this merry yuletide? Presents bought and wrapped, turkey ordered, meals planned, tree up, house decorated, cards written? Frankly, if you have achieved all these not inconsiderable tasks, then I really don't want to know you as we clearly have nothing in common!

As I abandoned children with a kindly friend and hurtled over to Macclesfield in lashing rain this morning to buy last minute stocking gifts and other presents without having to swat them away as I dashed around the shops, I tried to soothe my troubled soul by listening to the radio. Every few sentences there was talk of the 'stress of Christmas' and 'Christmas panic'. Everyone has morphed in just a week from pretending Christmas is just the loveliest time of year, full of mulled wine aromas and carol services,  to spiralling around in mindless directions like a clockwork toy while trying to speak through a permanently clenched oesophagus. Then this morning I found myself farting uncontrollably as I crouched on the floor trying to wrap an unwieldy and recalcitrant present for the couple who help me with the garden. They were due to pitch up any second and there I was still unwashed and in my dressing gown and smelling less than sweet. As my husband suggested perhaps I should go to the loo I screeched 'I've already been! It's just nerves!' Nerves? Since when has Christmas made me nervous? And yet there I was, all uptight and breaking wind. Nervously. Mad, isn't it?

It's only a few days, for God's sake. Yet you spend weeks and months planning for those few days. Or, like me, you don't actually spend weeks and months planning as that all seems far too sad and organized and you play the 'I don't like starting Christmas too early' card - and then come the 17th December end up in a blind panic. And farting like a trooper.

How does Nigella do it? All sultry smiles and sexy pouts while hoards of friends hang around her kitchen (along with an entire camera crew) licking their lips at the thought of the sensuous delights she is about to lay before them. The lights are always twinkling (no duff  bulbs for her then and a quick dash to Tesco at midnight), people are always laughing. Gosh, it is indeed very merry. And then there's Kirsty. Of coures I have ALL THE TIME IN THE WORLD (there I go, shouting again) to knit turkeys and roast curtains, or make soap and candles and find divine ribbons and twine to package them all delightfully up in for all my friends and family. I don't know, parallel universe comes to mind.

I did, however, find time to instruct my eldest daughter to help my youngest daughter bake star-shaped, icing-sugar dusted biscuits and put them in a sweet little bag with snowflakes and tied up with tasteful ribbon saying Merry Christmas for her Brownie leaders. When I pitched up late (again) from hairing round the countryside buying presents, wrapping and posting presents and dragging reluctant children away from lovely friends houses where they'd been doing a 'bake off' and building dens, all I got was a slightly terse question about my daughter's presence or not at the pantomime on January 25th. I looked blank and said 'Erm, sorry, I've had no details about this' to which I got another terse 'I sent an email'. I'd been looking at emails on my phone just a short while before and had not spotted it amongst the hundreds offering me Christmas discounts, advent specials, cheap hire car, hotel rooms, order confirmations and delivery notices, together with endless Facebook and Twitter announcements. The important ones from school - and of course Brown Owl - lie buried alive by the avalanche of nonsense. With my brain frying gently in the juices of my stress, I could barely focus on the moment, let alone a date somewhere at the end of January. I asked lamely when she needed to know by. Tomorrow. Great. I'll just take that on board too then. And still not a Christmas card written...

I have just spent the last two hours peering at my spreadsheets of Christmas present desires (I am of course the linch pin for the whole family) and frantically ordering things from Amazon and clicking in a frenzied manner on 'Express Delivery' at vast expense. Only to realise I'd forgotten something and had to go back in and do it all again just for one item. How that hurt. Then tomorrow I hit the horrors of the Trafford Centre to try and find clothes for girls lying awkwardly between childhood and adulthood where nothing fits or nothing suits or is appropriate and who, genuinely, have nothing to wear beyond one pair of jeans. Thence to the jollities and aromas of the Christmas markets in central Manchester, a meal at a favourite restaurant and a carol concert at the Bridgewater Hall. Still the Christmas cards will not be written but, you know what, does it matter? A little time out to do the festive thing is really what this season is all about. As the doctor on Radio 2 said this afternoon, 'take some time for yourself'. His suggestion of aromatherapy baths on Christmas morning is perhaps a tad unrealistic as you manhandle a monstrous bird into the oven and peel sprouts for England while opening stockings, making breakfast, pouring drinks, laying the table and squeezing in Church - but a family afternoon, a meal and a concert shouldn't be too much to ask, now, should it?

So I refuse to feel guilty. I can only do what I can do. And I shall try to stop farting. Promise.

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