(I’ve re-posted this, with minor edits, from last year and the year before as some people said they liked it)
It wouldn’t be December without…
1) Diary discomfort For most years of my late teens and early 20s, the run up to Christmas featured a tense guessing ritual: Was I going to get to meet up with a particular person before Christmas/early in January, and if they said it was a possibility, with how big a pinch of salt was I meant to take that? The answers to those questions were largely “No” and “Pretty big“. The final acceptance of it was very liberating indeed. I’ve been out of touch with that person since, and have a much perkier social life than I did in those days. Even so, I think my brain became so conditioned to the idea of missing someone in futility that a slither of pre-Christmas diary angst will always linger in some form or other, with someone or other. Even having a very attentive new boyfriend * over Christmas last year didn’t stop me wondering what someone else who demonstrably hardly gives a monkeys about me any more might be doing…(* Mr Attentive disappeared two months later. So ultimately wasn’t very…)
2) Putting air in the tyres No, not some kind of perverted euphemism…my dad used to do it when we had German Christmases (opening presents on Christmas Eve rather than Christmas Day – a handy tradition if excited insomniac small children aren’t your bag). Each year after dinner he’d take me out, and, amazingly, Father Christmas would pop round with his annual delivery while we were gone. We reverted to English Christmases when I was 9 but he still does the tyres every year.
3) Watching old soaps I haven’t kept up with any for well over a decade – all the drama I need these days comes from theatre and real life – but I was hooked on them growing up, and soap actors were demi-gods to me. Thanks to Someone On YouTube I can spend spare moments around Christmas watching clips of 90s EastEnders and Brookie episodes from my childhood and early teens. There are landline phones! There are travel agents! There are people who think citrus-coloured clothing and double-demin are a good idea! (There needs to a tumblr blog devoted to 90s soap fashion crimes; there really, really does…)
4) Stollen A scrummy German Christmas cake (pronounced to rhyme with “Pollen” and the “st” is pronounced “sh“), usually enjoyed with tea. You could hardly find it anywhere when I was little – we had to have it sent over by my grandma – but it’s quite well-known now. Don’t buy the posh one from M&S/Waitrose, they’re a swizz – Lildl and Aldi’s are authentic (and cheaper).
5) Justifying and explaining that I don’t know how to cook meat I’ve never cooked meat and don’t know how to because I haven’t eaten it since I was a child, and I’m scared to try in case I poison anyone. If you want to be generous, you can tell me that’s why I’ve never been involved with anybody at Christmas, except for the aforementioned boyfriend who was a fellow vegetarian…
6) The annual ‘How are you?‘ text from a Damn Foolish Fool We’ve all been
there, eh ladies? The bloke whose vandalised car and ripped-up shirts you can picture on the lawn before he’s even engaged. I haven’t always been entirely as good a cad-spotter in the past as a girl who spent her formative years watching soaps should be. Luckily I’ve reached that special point in life where you stop attaching meaning to his annual hellos except that they’re equivalent to picking up an old video game out of boredom…
7) Going for a long walk between breakfast and Christmas dinner Really gunning for this to happen this year.
8) Getting some project idea into my head and getting excited The abundance of free time usually makes me thirsty for a project to get stuck into. This year I have The Book, which I am currently behind on, but hope to be caught up with within the next couple of weeks. My end-of-December target of 60K feels immensely far away right now. Someone, keep reminding me that at Retreats For You I wrote 10K in four days….