A friend of mine made a very good point the other day. She noted that she had purchased and mostly wrapped all her Christmas presents and placed her Christmas food shop to be delivered late on 23rd December, and was very happy about it.
Another friend noted / asked wasn't she sad that she wasn't going to have the joy of doing it in the throng and throws of Christmas in December when it was more ambient? This has always been the stand that I have taken, I love having the same Christmas music piped in every shop while you queue for 20 minutes to pay whilst sweating out in your winter coat, that is what I remember from my younger years, particularly as I started to earn my own money and was responsible for purchasing my own gifts for people.
My friend noted that with working full time and fitting in all of her childrens activities it would not be a happy, ambient time and any spare time left in December would now be available for some quality family time, something that in previous years had lacked a little. And I would have to agree that I do understand exactly where she is coming from.
I always worked full time, a necessity as a single mother as I was at the time, but until I started working in a position that meant I had four hour round trip commute to add into the mix I didn't realise how much I would appreciate Internet shopping and a very generous mother that received all the delivers for me! Wrapping was done in snatched hours here and there when J1 had gone to sleep and I think the grocery shop was done at stupid o'clock one morning at a 24 hour Tesco's. Nothing Christmas-y or ambient about that.
And even though I am now a stay at home mum, having children that you are trying to keep only aware of the spirit of Christmas (i.e. not buying presents sneakily while they are with you, they ALWAYS see something or wrap them while they are not in the house, rare) doesn't make it the easiest thing to do. Also, even though I no longer have a full time job in the mix, last year between October and March it was a manic time.
We had a wedding to plan in a short amount of time, my mum's 60th birthday, Christmas, J2's first birthday and whilst all of that was going on J1 had to have massive surgery on his hips in November, which put him in a double A frame leg cast for six weeks, which because of his size the set had to be wider than the door frame, thus meaning he was bedroom bound for the duration.
I realised that I was going to have to sort Christmas in a practical manner rather than an indulgent one like I used to be able to do BC (Before Children) and again, because of all that was going on, including having a nine month old as well, the 'preparation' Christmas spirit was lost a little for me. However, what was gained was quality family time, we sat in J1's bedroom and played Christmas music and watched our favourite old Christmas movies, we made Christmas decorations from kits and wrote letters to Santa. We decorated J1's bedroom so it was his very own Christmas grotto, and we all loved to be in there in the evening as the lights twinkled away.
And that is what my friend had found in previous years, she was so busy trying to fit everything in to get that Christmas spirit that you can afford when you are a young, single person that she spread herself too thin and ended up not enjoying any of it, and she was trying to rescue that this year.
That inspired me to do the same because the plan this year was to leave it all until December this year, to drop back to old habits. But then I remembered how lovely those Santa Grotto evenings with the children was, and with our tradition of buying a new 'holiday / seasonal' movie every year we have got a fair few to watch.
So this year hubby and I struck a deal, we would do the bulk of the shopping as and when we saw things, and via the Internet as long as I had one afternoon in which to purchase 2 or 3 gifts, in the old traditional style. And we were lucky this year, our annual weekend away took us to Cardiff, Wales and the Christmas decorations in the City were awesome and it was manic, even though it was November not December, so I still got the 'old' Christmas tingle.
And I still have the excitement of getting everything wrapped, which by tradition my mum and I do together all in one afternoon while listening to our old Christmas Cd's (and I believe my mum still has a few 'tapes' - retro) and eating a Terry's Chocolate Orange each (traditional, none of these new fandangled ones they bring out).
So I am very much looking forward to December, I have no panic buying to do, only wrapping, tree decorating, eating, watching movies and making old fashioned Christmas decorations with the boys. I haven't even got Christmas Dinner to do this year as it's our turn at my parents.