I like Christmas a lot but I don’t go crazy over it like some people do. You know the ones that start doing a countdown from around January? I know Christmas is supposed to be a happy time but there are some things that irk me about it and I think the world needs to know what a Grumpy Rumpleton I am.
I get outrageously angry about premature domestic Christmas decorations.
I understand that shops and towns need to start Christmas early to get their money’s worth (particularly this year) but people in houses putting up trees and lights in November (or before) fills me with unnecessary rage. I’m all for people living their lives how they want to; "you do you" and all that but not when it comes to Christmas decorations. If you put your tree up before I deem it to be the correct time, know that I will judge you. I don't care if you have kids and they nagged you into it. November is too early.
The rule in the Velk House (my real name, or maiden name as “they” whoever they are, call it is Velk) is that the tree doesn’t go up until after my dad’s birthday which is the 16th December. Having said that I’m not sure who made that rule, and I don’t actually think anyone adheres to it anymore either. I don’t even stick to it (and I love a rule, I do). I usually go for around the second weekend in December which allows me to judge and mutter under my breath about everyone who posts photos of their lovely decorated trees on the Facebook the first weekend. Like a week makes all the difference. Urgh, why are they so early? Why can’t everyone just calm down? We have loads of time. Chill Winston.
Putting up the Christmas Tree:
I always think that putting up the tree will be a beautiful, wholesome, family activity. Pop a bit of Christmas music on, everyone giggling and frolicking amongst the tinsel. If I was a drinker that would be the time to have a glass of mulled wine while I sit back and admire my beautiful children taking it in turns to put each bauble and decoration carefully on the tree creating a festive masterpiece while everything smells of gingerbread.
The reality is very different.
First of all, we don’t even own any tinsel to frolick in and secondly I don’t like gingerbread. I went through a phase of buying new Christmas trees a few years ago which means we have about 5 and we can never remember which one is the “right” one. This always starts us off in a bit of a mood. Labelling the box “THE RIGHT ONE” might be an idea of course but where would be the fun in that?
Now we have children, Mr D appears to have made the executive decision to back out of the tree decorating. This is good and bad. He’s really good at getting things even and symmetrical whereas I’m a bit more slap dash which means the tree never looks as “put together” as it could do. It’s good though because one irritated adult (me) supervising two excited children who would actually rather just be throwing baubles at each other is probably enough. Two irritated adults would almost certainly make the whole thing worse.
This year, in an attempt to create my aforementioned tree decorating fantasy I asked Google to play some Christmas music and she immediately started playing Bublé. Not ok hun. I like Michael Bublé as a person, I think he’s a nice man, he is amusing and I appreciate that he can sing but his music makes me want to stab myself in the ears with some 4mm metal knitting needles. I find his Christmas stuff particularly offensive. So by this point my back was well and truly up. Cue small squealy boys rummaging around in boxes, unwrapping decorations and then casting them aside in a frenzy regardless of the fact they could be glass. I very quickly lost it. It was about then I started considering taking up drinking alcohol again.
Chad Logan decided to wrap about 6 foot of shiny pink beads around his wrists like handcuffs rendering his hands useless for tree decorating while simultaneously getting in a mood with his brother who was putting all the decorations on the tree and not letting him do it. I mean that wasn’t irritating at all. Then Brad Logan, bless his tiny ginger heart, was just chucking everything on all the bottom branches on top of each other because he couldn’t reach any higher and he is 4 therefore couldn’t care less about symmetry or appropriate decoration placement. The shiny bead handcuffs then broke and everyone cried. Actually I didn’t, I didn’t care but Chad Logan thought I’d care and he would be in trouble and Brad Logan wanted a go with them but I threw them in the bin.
We got there in the end, we always do, but not before I got a bit ragey about it all! It's not even a big tree, it shouldn't be that big a deal! My cousin and his family do a video every year of them putting up their Christmas tree but speeded up (there's probably a technical term for that). Every year (since we’ve both had kids) I marvel at how nobody appears to get the Christmas tree rage I get! Maybe it’s because they are recording themselves. Maybe they’re just better people. I think it might be a combination of both. Maybe I’ll record it next year and you can all marvel at the rage monster I become when the Christmas decorations come out.
Presents Under Trees:
When I see a photo on social media of someone’s tree and they have wrapped presents under it before December 25th I get mad. How is that even possible? Santa hasn’t been yet. I get if you don’t have kids it’s somewhere to keep them but there’s not need to be so prepared that you already have all your presents bought and wrapped before a date that starts with a 2 in December. Stop being so smug about how prepared you are. If you do have children then what’s going on there? I don’t mean the odd gift that your Auntie Margaret, who isn’t actually your aunt but some old lady friend of the family, dropped round last Thursday. That can stay under the tree. But the people who have ALL their Christmas shopping wrapped and under the tree before Santa has been. Surely that ruins the whole Christmas morning excitement?
Elf on the Shelf:
I do not have time for that.
(I do quite like seeing other people’s elf shenanigans though please everyone else carry on)
Christmas Eve Boxes:
Stop it. That’s not even a thing.
Advent Calendars with a 25 Door:
No. Advent is the run up to Christmas. Christmas is 25th December and therefore no longer Advent so we don’t need to open a little door that day.
Doesn’t matter how many I buy, I never have enough.
Unless you are Santa, someone actually dressed up as Santa (and I mean full on Santa outfit with beard) or a child under the age of about 13 you have zero business wearing a Santa hat. People who go into town Christmas shopping and are all “ooh look at me I’m so fun wearing my Santa hat, I’m mad me” wind me right up. Pack it in.
I'm a massive fan of wearing ridiculous clothes on a day to day basis so I am aware that it doesn't make much sense that inappropriate Santa hats fill me with quite so much rage but they do.
I’m a right miserable, not very festive, cow, aren’t I?
Christmas isn’t the same now I’m (allegedly) a grown up. I really miss the Christmases my family and I spent in Scotland with my grandparents, aunt, uncle and cousins. My mum, dad, brother and I used to wedge ourselves into the car among the cases and bags and drive all the way up to Motherwell most years. Knowing what I know now about being a parent around this time, I do not know how my parents did it without us finding out the secrets of Christmas. I am amazed and really grateful that they managed to keep that magic alive for us all those years.
I miss that feeling of laying my flat, empty stocking out at the end of the bed and the magic of waking up and it being all full and crinkly with all kinds of fun and exciting surprises including the obligatory bag of chocolate coins. I miss coming down the stairs in my grandparent’s house being careful not to
touch the wallpaper (my grandparents had this amazing flocked wallpaper that was all velvety and begged to be touched by tiny hands. My grandma was often heard snapping “DON’T TOUCH THE WALLPAPER” at us as we dragged our sticky fingers down the hallway) creeping into the living room and seeing the MILLIONS of presents that Santa had left for us all.
They were definitely the best Christmases and we’re so lucky that we had so many that we could spend together but I wish they could have lasted forever. I miss my grandparents a lot all year round but most of all at Christmas. Even though we weren’t allowed to touch the wallpaper.
Apart from the last Scotland Christmas we had, Mr D and I never spent Christmas together before we had children. I would go to my family and he would go to his his. It’s just how we did it. Then we messed that little arrangement up by having children. Now we take it in turns to go to one set of grandparents one year and the other the next year and it works out fine but we always prefer our own Christmas at our own family.
Velks and Dennetts do things differently. When I say things, I mean presents, specifically the time that presents are opened. Velks open presents first thing in the morning. Like literally first thing, still in your pyjamas, hair all over the shop, nobody has their contact lenses in so everyone is wearing glasses, it’s all a bit manic, wrapping paper everywhere (but being very careful to keep tags with presents to make sure the thank you letters get written) then you have all day to enjoy and admire your lovely gifts. Dennetts wait until after lunch. Like in the actual afternoon! What is that about?? Opening presents when fully dressed? Absolute madness. I don’t really remember this but my mum tells me that my other grandparents (the previous Velks) also used to do this so maybe it’s an English thing? Maybe English people have more self control than Scottish people.
I did a small survey of people…not an official survey with a clipboard or anything but basically asked friends and it appears that there is quite a difference across the board with the present situation. Some people Dennett it, some people Velk it and other people open presents across the course of the day… that’s really weird! How do you even police that? Is it one an hour? Who is in charge of when the next present opening starts? Do you just sit about and go "oh I fancy a mince pie and while I'm at it I'm just going to open this present but only this one not the others"? How do you stop opening presents once you start? How does it work?? I have so many questions. I don't think I'd be able to handle that level of flexibility. I need way more structure than that. While opening presents in the afternoon is weird at least I know where I stand with it.
My mum told me this morning that she heard that "they" (I don't know who they are) did an actual survey (probably with a clipboard) and found that 91% of people open their presents in the morning and only 9% after lunch. They didn't even include the other freaks who do it across the day. So there you are. The scientific (ish) answer to when Christmas presents should be opened. I knew I was right. I'm always right.
While I miss my Motherwell Christmases having children who are old enough to get Christmas does make it more exciting and fun and now it's my job to make sure they have warm, fuzzy, comforting Christmas memories with their family for when they become grown ups. I think we're doing ok so far. This will be our first ever Christmas at home (I have a feeling we might not be the only ones experiencing this for the first time) so thank the baby Jesus that Mr D can cook or we'd be having sandwiches. I will be dusting off my old napkin origami skills my grandma and mum taught me when I was little and then subsequently getting in a rage about it when I inevitably can't remember how to make the napkins look like fans or waterlilies or whatever.
I was going to have a rant about this Christmas rule change debacle because it’s one of the things that’s made me angriest this festive season but actually what’s the point? It’s not ideal but it is what it is. I am angry that the government have had to make the decision they made and I'm annoyed that it was left so late (although I get that they were trying to "save" Christmas). I am fortunate enough though that my family and people I love are well and as healthy as we can be after eating our body weight in Twiglets and Quality Street (No? Just me then). The sudden invention of Tier 4 and change of the Christmas rules around these parts is disappointing but we have half of Tesco in our fridge to eat, Santa has presents to bring and we have Zoom so we can see each other on Christmas Day.
It will all be fine. Not the fine where I don’t actually mean it’s fine. I mean the real life actual fine. We will be ok. We’ve got this. As long as nobody plays any Bublé near me.