Monday, 8 December 2008


Hubby has drawn up a chart for me. Colour coded, in response to a panic attack that I had minutes after waking on Sunday morning. As the day dawned, a sudden realisation then dawned on me of what I had to achieve in the next 24 days.
I sat bolt upright in bed and wailed, “I can’t remember all the things I have to do and in what order to do them”. My heart was beating fast and it felt as though I couldn’t breathe.
“Oh my God”, I continued, now flailing around the bed, “There’s so much of it and so many people to do it for..”.
“Get a grip Alice love”, said Hubby not even having the grace to peek out from under the duvet to see what was wrong, “Why get yourself so worked up? It’s only Christmas”.
It was like someone had lit a fire beneath me and I rocketed out of bed with a roar and threw, not only missiles at him but every festive chore that I always take on board, year after year, single-handedly.
“You absolute pig!” I shouted, hurling one of my boots at him, “You have no idea. Have you made a list of the million people who need several presents? Ordered anything? Cooked anything? Made an angel costume? A star costume perhaps? No, I didn’t think so. Have you worked out the logistics of a nativity clashing with a speech day? Shopped for anything? Posted anything?” Each question was accompanied by a paperback; Samuel Pepys’s Diary being the final article to be lobbed in his direction. Pepys had a lot to say. It is a thick book. It hurt.
“Ouch!” said Hubby rubbing his temple, before ducking under the duvet as Grazia magazine flew towards him. My reading is nothing if not diverse.
“How can you be so thoughtless? You have had nothing once again to do with Christmas. Do you have any idea how much I detest Toys are bloody Us? The soulless, shelves and shelves of plastic tat that every small child has been brainwashed into wanting so desperately. That can’t be what it’s all about surely?”, I looked expectantly at Hubby willing him to say something soothing and profound but he just shrugged his shoulders and so I picked up the first thing that came to hand which happened to be a pile of laundry. Seeing him peel a pair of dirty knickers off his face suddenly struck me as very funny and I started to laugh.
Hubby evidently saw the change in my disposition as me conceding and decided to act immediately before I once again became a screaming banshee.
“Alice. Darling. You are a wonder and I don’t know how you do it. Was that shop as awful as you say?” Appeasement tactics, so far so conciliatory.
“You have to see it to believe it. Hoards of people, some who seem not to have a penny to rub together chucking toy after toy willy-nilly into their trolley. It depressed me. What happened to pressing your nose up against an old-fashioned toy shop window on Christmas Eve, and hoping and praying that the doll or boat you could see under the twinkling lights was making its way via a supersonic sleigh?”
“That book is beginning to warp you mind Alice love”. I looked at him quizzically.
“This Pepys one”, he said, bending down the side of the bed to retrieve it.
“For heaven’s sake, Samuel Pepys lived in the 1600’s. The plague and the Great Fire of London and all that? It was Dickens who wrote about Victorian London and old curiosity shops”.
“Listen Alice love; be thankful those days are well and truly over. Rats are cute creatures called Roland these days not bubonic plague carriers and besides, when was the last time you saw a small kid stuffed up a chimney?”
“I know, I know but there must have been nice things about the olden days and I just happen to have a romantic fantasy of dimpled windows and childish excitement.” Hubby sighed, then took my hand,
“In fifty years time when our children have grandchildren, Argos will seem like a quaint curiosity shop. You can hear them saying, ‘When I was your age at Christmas, we used to go to this shop and look in the heaviest catalogue ever known to man. When we’d chosen what we wanted we’d tap the item number into a machine and, if it was in stock we’d then queue for half an hour to pay for it, then take a seat and watch a monitor for another half an hour before hearing an omnipotent voice call out– Number 323 to collection point B please. Aye, those were the days.’”
Hubby made me a cup of tea and whilst the rest of the house was still silent, we huddled around the dining table in our dressing gowns and I presented him with my diary and then he, ever the logistician, drew up a most marvellous, colour coded chart, so that I can see at a glance where I’m meant to be at any given date in December; when mince-pies are to be cooked and wine mulled; when the Red-Head’s ballet performance is on and her sister’s musical theatre show, not to be confused with the panto; when braces are coming off and chiropodists are calling; when parties are to be attended and visitors beds are to be aired.
“Fair play to you Alice. For once in your life you weren’t exaggerating”, said Hubby as he sat back aghast at what December brings with it.
“Do you have anything you’d like to add to any of these columns?” I asked, wondering if he would write: Collect turkey, buy mum and dad’s presents or at least, ‘Get in booze’. He picked up his pen and, sucking the end, pondered intently, before remembering with an exclamatory, “Oh yes”, and so, on the 18th wrote, ‘Run ashore. Back late’.


beck said...

Hi, I'm Beck, Phillipa's friend. Boy do I get where you are coming from. With five kids to buy for, organise and six people's tired & cranky moods to deal with (seven counting me) life is demanding in December! What's with the Women Do Christmas thing anyway...?! Hang in there and hope for some lovely presents on Christmas day and hopefully lots of love too!

Anonymous said...

I just posted about this yesterday. Join the club of Christmas magicians! were already in the club, didn't you know?
I make up an Excel chart of who to buy for, what they might like, what I've purchased, wrapped, and mailed. It keeps me somewhat sane - that, and the color-coded calendar on the kitchen wall!

Anonymous said...

Wow, you are all so organised! I just write everything on a scummy bit of paper and hope for the best!

beck said...

Hi again, thanks for your lovely message! I'm glad you like my bunnies, I am making a new batch (litter?) at the moment - also will be putting some more photo's on my blog shortly so have a look and see if any take your fancy. I can make some especially for you. Did you know it's Phillipa's 40th soon? Hope you have a wonderful Christmas, Beck x

Sally said...

We have similar conversations in our house come Christmas.......

It is bizarre what we all do for those two to three days. If only the celebratory bit could last a bit longer at the end of the panic. You know, the bit where we all put pour feet up drink lots of wine and eat mince pies.....