I don’t care about presents (though they’re nice, obviously!) and I don’t spend Christmas Day with family these days, in fact I’m not even sure it’s Christmas day I love. I love December. I love the twinkly lights on crisp cold dark evenings, I love that everything is “spiced” I love the anticipation, Christmas jumpers and the excellent excuse to theme things and wear lots of red and white and snowflakes. I love mince pies and mulled wine and Christmas music on the radio, I love gift guides and 3-4-2 at Boots and selection boxes and buying Christmas cards that I am never organised enough to send. I love Egg Nog Lattes, Christmas sandwiches and wearing tree baubles as earrings. In fact, apart from the total stress that everything in the world stops happening for 2 weeks and the fact that I am always to poor to buy presents I pretty much love everything about Christmas.
I feel like being a blogger, and one of those with a “vintage” angle on life, the internetz has started to gang up on me and make me feel like I am an inadequate failure. Pinterest and Instagram are major culprits, but Facebook plays a large part too as I eye up statuses from people who finished all their Christmas shopping in November and are now busy baking cakes for the homeless.
So today I am rounding up a list of things that I refuse to feel guilty about this year, and you totally shouldn’t either.
A few years ago the gift guilt was about buying presents at all and you were supposed to buy goats for African children. This made me uncomfortable. “Oh wow! Thank you for my laptop! Here, I gave a goat to a small African child in your name!”, present giving at Christmas is a tradition established over many, many years, and unless you have discussed the not giving of presents with your potential recipient this one isn’t as altruistic as it seems. You’re basically suggesting that all your givees are greedy gits who should “check their privelege”, where as you are a moral and ethical person who contemplates the plight of third world children at this time of year. Oh, but please do give me a Soap & Glory gift set in return. Maybe consider giving to charity AS WELL as giving gifts?
This year the guilt seems to be around buying “local” or shopping with small businesses. I think this is a wonderful, wonderful idea. But not an excuse for making people feel like bad gift givers if they popped into TK Maxx for your gift. Maybe your recipient WANTS a pair of Topshop socks, not ones hand knitted by Peruvian Grandmas from yak hair, did you think of that? Don’t forget your local independent businesses and online retailers, but remember, gift giving should be about choosing something right for the recipient, not proving what a wonderful person YOU are.
If you’ve only got time to go to Boots, go to Boots, I’m just as happy with that as a handcrafted organic shea butter bath bomb. It’s the fact it’s from YOU that matters.
Apparently not only do the contents of your parcel need to be ethically made, locally sourced and from an independent retailer, you also need to hand them over in the sort of wrapping that belongs on a Christmas Card.
I did this many years ago. I carefully wrapped my presents with brown paper and tartan ribbon that cost almost as much as the gifts inside. They still looked rubbish as I have zero craft or wrapping skills. These days I bring you gifts wrapped in wafer thin paper from the pound shop. And don’t look too closely at the edges as I apparently can’t cut a straight line either.
Sorry, but the beauty of my wrapping is not an external representation of my love for you.
I’m not talking about the traditional Christmas “Ooops I ate a dozen mince pies and now my trousers don’t fit” food guilt, but about the new breed of Pinterest and instagram inspired food guilt. Everywhere there are people making their own mince pies, gingerbread men and handcrafting their own egg nog lattes garnished with star anise and served up in a glass artfully placed on a white washed table next to a Poinsettia.
My Mr Kipling mince pie and Starbucks red cup latte just aren’t good enough!
I’ve mentioned before that I don’t bake and this goes double at Christmas when I’ve got plenty enough to be doing without attempting to make my own gingerbread men when they sell them in Sainsburys.
Remember a few years ago when Nigella caused a national run on duck fat to cook roast potatoes? And the year where she left her turkey soaking in a bucket of brine? Last year I burnt most of my Christmas dinner because we went to the pub at lunch time and I was too “tipsy” to get my timing right. Domestic goddess I am not. This year we are having stew that we can put in the oven while we go to the pub, and when it comes out it won’t even look pretty.
Maybe I’ll garnish it with a cinnamon stick and a star anise to take an instagram photo?
Christmas parties are coming, then New Year, and at this time of year you must show up at all Christmas parties looking fresh, doused in glitter and never wearing the same thing twice. You must live entirely off mince pies and sausage rolls and not gain a single pound so that you can see out the year singing Auld Lang Syne in a whisp of satin clutching a Champagne coupe.
If you throw a Christmas party it is not enough to ask people to bring a bottle, you must provide Christmas Cocktails garnished with individual mini candy canes and there will be candles and sparkling lights and people will chat and throw their heads back with joyous laughter, not get horribly drunk and pass out on the sofa, oh no.
If you end up on New Years Eve tired, bloated so you have to change your outfit plans last minute or so drunk that you miss midnight entirely then you have FAILED.
This is the worst one of all to my mind, because this is the one that makes me feel like I should just admit that I have utterly failed at being a grown up.
I bet you all have them. the people that posted on the 1st December “Phew, that’s all the Christmas shopping done! Leaving it a bit late this year!” the ones that send Christmas cards, every year, and always remember that you have moved, the names of your children they have never met and everything you have told them about your life this year. The ones that bring home made mince pies into work and are cooking for 25 on Christmas Day and still tell you how much they love having the whole family together. They’ve booked a Christmas Eve online shopping delivery slot as well so they don’t have to go shopping at 3am to avoid the crush like the rest of us.
Today it is the 10th of December and I’m afraid I haven’t bought a single present. Last year I recycled all the Christmas cards that I had bought over the last 5 years and never remembered to send, I’m not sure if I could even track down addresses to send them if I wanted to without pestering everyone by email or text. I love all my friends and family, but I am a rubbish grown up and terrible at organising my domestic life. I will be in the supermarket on Christmas Eve crying because they have run out of Chestnuts and I will forget to buy any milk.
I’m hoping all of you reading aren’t secretly living in a slightly orange tinted world of out of focus Christmas lights and non-burnt home made Christmas cookies and thinking what an appalling person I am for my inability to remember to both buy and post Christmas cards (or wedding thank you cards, or birthday or anniversary cards) and not get any presents till Christmas eve.
If you are one of those people then enjoy your perfectly organised grown up Christmas, for the rest of us who are eating mince pies straight from the packet and heating up bottled mulled wine in the microwave, remember the true meaning of Christmas, no, not *that* one, the true meaning of stuffing yourself silly with food and drink and watching cheesy TV.