I adore the Christmas period. Twinkly lights, bringing a bit of the outdoors inside in the form of a fir tree, holly and garlands. Food. Marzipan. Preserves. Cheese. Hams. And family.
All this is so well depicted on tv. Films where hope is brought to the hopeless, love to the unloved, Santa is rescued from being stranded in small town America that’s actually Canada due to the tax breaks. I love it all. As this was the first Christmas where we weren’t unpacking boxes having moved in on the 20th December last year, we hosted christmas.
I learned a lot. One, a Christmas dinner is a feat of timing and requires more than one pair of hands. Two, I need to learn to carve a turkey. Three, it’s impossible to please everyone. Four, it’s hard to deal with other people’s family at a point of stress. Five, space is important. You need time alone. Six, common sense is something precious few have. Seven, you cannot expect miracles. Eight, you should write these things down so you learn for the next time.
Ok so here is what I’d do differently. Know my limitations. I need to know I can’t plate up dinner for everyone alone. Someone should have carved for me. It was stupid to think I could do it all. I also now know children eat less, so me just bowling up soup meant I nearly didn’t have enough, but in reality I had spare as the children’s portions were too big.
I suffered a bit of stress at this point, which wasn’t helped by the fact that sometimes people’s tones and choice of phrase can seem critical when I was trying to do the Christmas dinner for everyone. Perhaps unintentionally, but at these times, to have someone decreeing portion sizes “stupid” seemed a bit of kick in the teeth when I was foregoing a starter to allow everyone a hot dinner. My timings were ok. A timetable was very helpful. Next time I need to write jobs for the others. Someone else could have ladled the soup. Someone should have sorted the turkey. It would have made everything far more manageable. Then I could have just plated without concern.
I am conscious I don’t appear to be apportioning blame elsewhere. I was the idiot who took on too much. The stress levels and my irritation was as a result of too much on my shoulders. Trying to be the TV depiction of stress free caterer, when in reality this may get easier with further rehearsal. I may achieve Lawsonian perfection in time.
I also learnt family is best enjoyed in manageable chunks. It was lovely to see everyone, but we were shoehorned into a home built for a maximum of 5. 5 in a 3 bed 1930’s semi would be “cosy”. Aka a lot. 8 was at times claustrophobic. If this were to happen again I think it would be sensible to limit how long everyone stayed for. Or I would suggest 2 perhaps B & B it nearby to allow us all chance to breathe.
I’m not a person who needs a lot of people around them all the time. I like people, and get on well with a lot of folks. But can I just be honest, I enjoy solitude. I’m sat here in the kitchen listening to the radio writing this, reflecting on what’s just gone and what comes next. Alone. And this to me is perfect perfect peace. It’s me. It’s not Adam and Pete. It’s not Adam, Employee. it’s not Chris and Ted’s son. It’s nothing anyone needs to identify. It’s just what I do and what I enjoy. A solitary choice. One day I went downstairs. I wanted to put the radio on and listen to Claire Balding, I wanted to have a potter in the kitchen, washing up or tidying, just coming together on a Sunday morning. Alas no. I opened the downstairs loo door to be confronted by someone having a crap. Recoiling into the kitchen, what did I find? Oh, someone else, all the lights on reading the paper. Thwarted, I went back to bed. It’s very difficult not being able to just have that time on my own when I needed it.
So there you go, my few life lessons from Christmas 2014. So as for 2015, I have some resolutions.
To write more. I love writing. I doubt anyone hangs on anything I say, but it allows me to set myself down in an orderly fashion. It’s cheap therapy. I can’t say the truly awful things I sometimes think, but at times it does help me explain myself. I sometimes allow the silliness and the small stuff to grow, swelling until they feel like these huge, tumour-like problems taking over my every thought and mood. When I write them down, though, it’s sometimes as simple as “I got stressed, they didn’t help matters, but all in all I took on too much and didn’t delegate and ended up upsetting myself”. That’s the lesson. That’s what I need to improve on. the rest is just stupid fluff. It’s personalities, it’s symptomatic. I’m sure elsewhere there are others telling the tale of a stress head who was a bit crabby in the morning and took to his bed, and was snappy on Christmas Day. In my defence I was hungover on Christmas Day As the only non-Catholic person, I stayed in whilst the rest went to mass and I drank 3 larges glasses of red, only to drink more upon their return. I enjoyed myself, mind you. I mean, drinking red wine and getting a bit sloppy, that’s the true story of Christmas isn’t it.
I’m also going to move more. Walk, be active, run with regularity. I gave it up post -marathon as I had fallen out of love with it. I’m going to improve efforts to stop this jiggling that I’m suffering when I move. It’s like an aftershock. I stop, my belly finally stops 4 seconds later. Not great.
I’m also going to open my mind up to some new challenges. Do things I’d like to do, but am far too wussy to do. I’m only standing in my own way. Let’s shake things up. I’m 34, not 94. The world won’t throw opportunities my way, I have to find them. Let’s make something happen. I know this is vague, but I’m committing to new opportunities, plural. I don’t know what it will be yet, or in what form it will be, but I have my eyes open and ears open.
Otherwise, that’s it. Here’s a few snaps of the season, for your delectation.
So Happy New Year, one and all. Here’s to 2015, I’m embracing all it sends my way. Honestly, Internet people, trust me. I’ve a good feeling about this one.
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