Sussex columnist: Is it time to start panicking about Christmas?
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Much as I’m trying to ignore it, because to me it’s a tad too early, the TV adverts, the shops, my children’s school and the rest of the world in general really want me to accept the fact that ‘tis the festive season.
Despite my husband’s protestations to the contrary, I am not Scrooge nor The Grinch. I love Christmas – but I could do without getting the Christmas sweats already.
You know what I mean. The panic that starts to creep in when you realise just how much you have to do to make the magical Christmas you want for your family just ‘magically’ happen.
If only it would happen magically. That would be great. I could sit at home chomping on mince pies while the elves made light work of the preparations. Because, as I wrote last year, there really are quite a lot of preparations to be undertaken. It’s a daunting prospect and one that the dithery amongst us (and I firmly place myself in that camp) can struggle with. Where do you start when there’s a million and one Christmas-related tasks to complete? In my case, it’s often nowhere. I waft around the house procrastinating because I don’t know where to start.
That being said, even though it pains me to do it, some Christmas admin needs to take place long before November. Because you try waiting until now to book a Santa visit. There are almost certainly only slim pickings left as slots with the Big Guy get booked up way, way in advance. I don’t like to be the problem, but when it comes to organising to see Father Christmas you really do have to have an ‘if you can’t beat them, join them’ approach to booking. If you don’t you’ll miss out. We booked our Hever Castle Christmas experience in mid-September, and even then, we had to get in a virtual queue that was hundreds of people long. I believe the whole thing gets sold out within days. Possibly even hours. Proof, if more was needed, that Christmas planning is a serious business.
I’m currently in a present-buying quandary. It’s fairly easy to buy for my five-year-old, as he still likes toys. But my nine, nearly ten-year-old is less into playing with things, and more into wanting specific trainers, backpacks, items for her room, etc. It just feels a bit less special to open a rucksack than a toy you desperately wanted. But from what the parents of her friends tell me, this is pretty standard.
Maybe things are different now, but I’m sure when I was ten I was still knee-deep in Sylvanian Families characters and jazzing along to my Casio keyboard which played ‘Wake Me Up Before You Go Go’ as a demo.
Now, I’m having to do Google searches for Air Up bottles and Panda Dunk trainers, because apparently everyone and their mum in my daughter’s class has them and she ‘reeeeeaaaaalllly’ wants them, too.
What happened to being ecstatic at receiving a Mr Frosty?!
Once the presents have been secured, I need to find time to wrap them. And with bedtimes creeping later as the children get older, that could be a burning-the-midnight-oil activity this year. Oh, but to do that I need to buy wrapping paper first. Help!
Then there’s the festive food mountain to build. We’ve already made a good start, with festive Chocolate tubs and Matchmakers sourced. There’s also a Christmas pudding calling my name from the top of the cupboards, and enough tubs of Treeslets to feed our family into January.
My husband and I both managed to buy a bottle of Baileys, but this resulted in us deciding it was a good idea to open one early. Cue the two of us enjoying a little Monday-night tipple last week.
I haven’t even thought about the Nativities, Christmas fair, gifts for the teachers and more that still needs sorting for my children’s school.
For now, I’m just taking it one day at a time and reminding myself that it’s always worth it in the end. And if times get tough, I know there’s an open bottle of Baileys in the cupboard...