Sometimes, I catch myself getting a wee bit excited about Christmas. And then I remember, that it’s quite simply a pain in the rear. For years I quite loathed the day itself because in an act of Christian charity my mum would insist in inviting an elderly uncle and aunt around, who weren’t known for their love of children and we had to be polite and behave. We called the aunt ABC (Aunt Bloody Caroline, she really was the most insufferable old crone) and the pair of them used to put a right old dampener on proceedings. Then they died, and there followed a few years when it was just a small family gathering and you know, it was fine, but in truth I wish we’d all just gone to the Canaries and had a proper rest instead of the whole festive rigmarole. Jump to 2010, the year we got married and it snowed and we spent the whole fecking time worried no one would make the wedding. Then the cake AAI* insisted in baking broke to bits and we spent Boxing Night searching the Co-op in Ballyholme for baking powder to make a new one. God, was she irked that night. (The cake, incidentally, was delicious but the ruthless staff at LaMon Hotel threw in the bin after only a small proportion had been consumed. Terrible choice of venue, but that’s another story.)
And now we have the offspring, yey! So it’s meant to be all the magic of Santa and joy, and so it is. For about 45 minutes. But the thing is, even though I actually quite like my children, (I even hug and kiss them on occasion), they are exceedingly intense little people. The guerning to which we’ve been subjected has been nothing ordinary. The incessant whining, despite trips to parks and play dates and loving family lavishing gifts upon them, has our nerves in tatters. We’re just over the Winter Solstice, everyone is supposed to be slowing down a little, breathing more deeply, sleeping more soundly. But my pair? They didn’t get the memo. The small one has been particularly obstreperous with about 5 meltdowns before noon. My skills of diplomacy have been so sorely tested that I feel fully eligible for a job with the UN peacekeepers.
And just to add to the lack of festive cheer, I always, always, get fucking sick. A ghastly cold made itself known on Christmas Eve and being drenched 3 times amid squally showers further exacerbated my misery. A normal person, in response to illness might have taken the opportunity to sit on their arse, but oh no, Stoical Wee Bastard me! Parkrun was duly completed on the morning of the 25th, followed by the Castlewellan Christmas Cracker on the 27th. What better for one’s wheeziness than racing 8.4 miles over hill and dale, through marsh and field and shoe-sucking swamps. All great fun, bedecked in matching elf costumes, we ran alongside snowmen and cowboys and even a few turkeys. We then legged it, in all our mud splattered elfed-up splendour to the Slieve Donard, for a night of romance. Well, we just about stayed awake long enough to partake of dinner, before passing out by 10pm. I woke the next morning feeling like my lungs had been sand-papered, hawking and spluttering with bronchitic vigour and ruing my bravado the day before.
What a way to spend one’s wedding anniversary: waking in a bed the size of a small Polynesian island, with muscles in spasm and a rattly chest, trying to conceal one’s vileness from the husband alongside. Let’s just say we didn’t do the 5* suite justice.
So in short, despite the efforts of family to spoil me with gifts and meals and loveliness, there seems to be some sort of Christmas conspiracy, intent upon making sure I don’t enjoy it as I might. And only 11 days until the kids go back to school! Christmas, the holiday that just keeps on giving.
*AAI- Almost Always Irked- acronym for my mother