Anyone else fed up with their beauty advent calendar? I am. I've got trial size lotions and potions everywhere, I keep forgetting to open the doors on the correct dates and the products are teeny-tiny and I can't read the instructions. Not only that, I can't even work out what most of them are for. I've had conditioner on my face (it came in a pot) and gold sparkle facial oil on my nails. I mean seriously how do the manufacturers expect you to read the blurb on a container just a few centimetres tall? But 20 days in and I've worked out that if I take a photo on my phone and zoom in, I can just about make out what the product is. Easy then to google what it's actually supposed to do. Totally underwhelmed by the whole experience. Next year I'll buy myself a tin of Quality Streets instead.
And this got me thinking about everything else that get's my goat at Christmas.
Take the 'behind the curtain presents' that the husband hides every years. The kids know that they're there. We know that the kids know that they're there. But we do this whole bloody charade thing of 'SURPRISE!' I don't mind that so much, it's the fact that hubby decides last minute that they need a 'behind the curtain present' even though I've already spent a small fortune on them.
And then there's the 'trying to balance the money spent on each child' debacle. This I've managed, although the daughter has 6 more presents to open than the son (he has more expensive taste obviously). Pile-wise they're roughly the same although it used to be a problem. There's 5 1/2 years between them so when the son was receiving Ninja Turtle forts and Lego Star Wars Millennium Falcons, the daughter was in to sparkly diaries and Slappie Slap Watches (or whatever the equivalent was 10 years ago). Humongous son's pile vs teeny-tiny daughter's pile. I had to run out one Christmas Eve to buy a hockey stick (she never played hockey) and an oversized science experiment kit (it went to the charity shop 6 months later...unopened). All to balance out the piles.
Don't get me started on the hunter and hunted game that precedes the big day. You know, when the kids suddenly adopt stealth personas and leave no cupboard unturned in their quest to find their presents. We've done the loft thing, neighbours houses, wardrobes, garage, car boot, locked suitcases. The lot. And every chuffin year, they find them (well only since Santa wrote a letter about burning his bum on the fire so he'd made an arrangement with Mummy and Daddy that we'd look after the presents for him). I've even resorted to putting them in black bin liners, tied with string and then snipped so close to the knot that if they untied it, there's no way they'd be able to retie the string. Except, I forgot to hide the ball of string.....
Of course we hide the presents so well that sometimes even we can't find them. Until January! Kind of defeats the object really.
Unwanted gifts anyone? Let the search commence for the receipts. And after spending 2 hours looking in carriers and trying to work out which handbags I've used in December, I give up and exchange the present for vouchers worth £2.20 because the items are on double blue cross sale.
I've got Christmas cake coming out of my ears and why does that tin of Panettone go on for ever and ever. It breeds overnight I'm convinced. Making your own croissants on Christmas morning seemed like such a good idea at the time. I don't mean from scratch, I mean the ones that come in the tube that you have to construct and cook. That's once you've actually worked out how to open the bloomin thing. Have you ever tried to follow the instructions??? Well that is if you can read them. Phone torches come in very useful don't they? Oh and seriously how many veg do you have to juggle at lunchtime. Simultaneously cooking and keeping warm. A logistics degree is required to keep on top of that one. And why do we insist on dressing up to cook Christmas lunch? A disaster waiting to happen if you ask me. I've been known to sob into my tea towel as my best silk shirt sleeve is splattered with fat and then frantically searching for online tips to get it out while the pigs in blankets burn under the grill (which was turned on as a last resort to keep the food warm).
Don't get excited, it doesn't work!
I have 5 double beds to change on New Years Eve as we say bye bye to house guests and welcome a fresh batch (impossible task), another battle in the supermarket and I'll be in full on banshee mode with the kids who insist on keeping their pressies in the living room. I don't want to see a Soap & Glory megabox gift set and American Eagle boxer shorts on my floor. It's plain wrong. And there'll be dust balls the size of Hollywood Western tumble weeds in the hall because vacuuming when you have guests would be rude right? I'm not even going to think about those cheap flimsy Christmas cards that warp in the heat and won't stay standing for longer than 5 seconds.
And then to add insult to injury, the husband insists (nay, demands) that the Christmas decorations stay up until 6th January even though the baubles are literally touching the floor - already. DEPRESSING or what?
I have no hopes that the kitchen tree will survive until then, it's already looking a little forlorn.
So why do it year after year? Well, I do it for these two. They're as excited now as they were when they were kids. The sheer delight on their faces is enough for me to forget the traumatic experience of finding the right presents and constantly picking out empty wrappers from the Quality Street tin.
And this big kid, because he's probably the biggest of them all. He doesn't have a clue what we've bought and I don't think he really wants to know because it's as much of a surprise to him as them.
And the rest of the family too who we get to see over the festive period.
I'm looking forward to spending a few days in London, that bottle of fine red wine that's been sat in the wine rack all year, immersing myself in box sets and listening to Christmas carols (Classic FM style). Meeting friends for that last minute coffee and wearing sequins at 11am because sparkle is acceptable any time of day. Drinking port (wtf is that all about?) and eating as many chocolates as I darn well like without anyone raising an eyebrow. Making late night snacks from all the leftovers that seem to go on and on and on.
That's what it's all about really isn't it, the three Fs. Family, friends and food (and wine but that wouldn't have worked as well would it, three Fs and a W).
So this WILL BE the last post before Christmas and I wish you all a very merry time indeed. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for reading the blog, it means such a lot. I've enjoyed our little interactions and private chats over on email xx