Archive for December, 2009

Happy Families?

Was going to write out a huge rant with the whole prelude to today’s  fiasco, but will instead just say that today I have flipped at my family and said, ” I am fed up of  you criticising my kids, they have behaved impeccably given the circumstances, its 6.30 and dinner was meant to be served at 5, I have had enough of this” and stomped off. 

Result was that our Christmas meal was eaten in silence in a horrid atmosphere.  We have come home and no-one is speaking to me and the worst is that we are meant to go round tomorrow for Boxing day (except OH is going to football so would be me on my own with the 3 kids).  I know I will have to apologise, even though I was justified in what I said, but actually it is mum who should say sorry, but as is usual when there is an argument she goes all “victimy” until I grovel.

I am promising myself that next year, rather than trying to please everyone, we are staying at home, just the five of us.

What really broke my heart was my daughter saying, “mummy, Nan was cross and Christmas wasn’t really how I expected it to be” she saw my face and added, ” but I did have a nice time” to then try and cover up what she had said. I now feel utterly utterly miserable.


Season’s Greetings

To all our wonderful readers,

Thank you for your support over the last couple of months. We have had a steady stream of EXCELLENT posts and a very healthy readership.

Please keep those posts coming in, this is your blog!

Season’s greetings to you and your families.

My Family Christmas Tree

My family tree is stunted. I will never be a candidate for ‘Who Do You Think You Are?’ I can’t get further than a few branches above.

Both my mother and father were only children. Both my mother’s adopted parents are long dead. I never knew them. My father’s mother died when he was tiny and his father re-married and died shortly after. My step grandmother with the Wallis Simpson hair was unfortunately loathed as much by my mother as the real Wallis by the British public for taking away their beloved King. Once she existed on a diet of lemons and we joked that must have been what had made her so sour.

Christmas Past  

Wallis the widow was who we spent Christmas with. At her house. We were drilled in the car as to what we could and couldn’t let on. We watched as my father metamorphosed into a mouse.  

My sister and I made the best of it. We slept in a huge mahogany bed with carvings that looked like Cadbury’s Dairy Milk and we broke off pieces, giggling in the dark. We always got the same presents, differentiated by colour. And when my baby sister came along, seven years later, it was easy to make it all about her. 

But when my elder sister died, grief descended upon the house enveloping us like a thick blanket of snow that hung upon the eaves, cutting us off from the outside world. Christmas became something ‘to be got through.’

I longed for a huge family Christmas with uncle snoring in the corner, a wallpaper pasting trestle table having to be put alongside the main one for the kids, sticky kisses and spoiling from grandparents, squabbling over the Quality Street, charades and eggnog, writing place names in your best calligraphy, filling the guest room with soap and towels.  

When I get married, I thought, I’m going to choose someone with siblings, with nieces and nephews, with so many cousins they can’t name them all.  

Flash-forward to Christmas present

I’m married to a man who is himself an only child, adopted by elderly parents. He has not one single cousin. Nor aunt. Nor uncle. Nor grandparent.  

In fact I am not telling the whole story. I do have some relations. My mother traced her birth parents. And hey – there was her family. Half brothers and uncles and aunts and cousins, all living near one another and popping round each others houses and mantelpieces bowing under the weight of pictures of grandchildren. Save ours.  

We were given a peek then the door clanged shut. Too complicated, too many secrets and lies. It almost makes it worse knowing they are there and we’re not invited to the feast. We feel like Tiny Tim pressing his face up against the glass window of the toyshop.  

I want to make Christmas special for my little family. It is small but it is mine. 

I cling to my own rituals and traditions.

My friends  – and my husband – try and wrench the rose tinted spectacles off my nose. They tell me of the push-me pull-you of relatives and in-laws and grandparents, of complicated custody arrangements and 400 mile round trips to drop off their kids at a motorway service station off the M4.  

I buy Country Living magazine although I live in town – seduced by its pictures of families all aglow on their post Christmas dinner country walks and blonde children in their tartan pyjamas and goose for 12 and bedecked trees and three types of stuffing. I pore over Jamie and Delia and Nigella.

 I know I have an idealised vision of Christmas. But I can’t quite get rid of it.

The only one who can?

Don’t you sometimes just have those days where you wonder if you’re the
only person “who can do” – I do, pretty much every weekend when my
husband is off work and my step-son is home for the weekend. 
Apparently I’m the only one who realises that the baby’s nappy needs
changing more than once in a day, that things need putting away when
they are finished with, that the kitchen needs cleaning after meals,
that the dishwasher needs emptying, that wet towels need picking up off
the floor, that dirty clothes don’t live on the end of the bed, that
shoes and jackets go in the cupboard NOT on the hall floor!?!?  I could
go on and on and on!!!  And then when I finally reach bursting point
and say something, they look at me like I have three heads or even
worse with the pitiful look and ask if I’m feeling poorly?  NO I’M NOT
make matters worse when I finally get to sit down and relax my husband,
step-son sit cuddled up on the sofa in front of the TV and baby girl
goes and sits with them so I feel like the bad guy that no-one wants to
be near.

Of course I sit here and say that I will stop doing everything that I
do and then maybe they will see just how much I do BUT I just can’t do
it, I can’t live in a messy, dirty house and they know that.

Handwritten Confession #4

Caution: Rant Alert!

It is that time of year. Not actually Christmas itself, but the period before Christmas when everyone is thinking about what to buy for presents. The grandparents, sensibly, have come to us to ask for ideas for what to buy the kids. This is A Good Thing. No one likes to waste money, what the kids are into changes with the setting sun and I have a very low tolerance threshold for rubbish toys.

So, after some deliberation I have come up with a list of toys designed to suit everyone. You want to get something small? Check. You want to buy something that costs about £20? Check. You want to buy a toy that has batteries in? You are banned from my house and never darken its threshold again/if you absolutely have to then check but my smile will be forced and I will have my revenge elsewhere. Most of all, I try to make sure that the toys will have an element of longevity, will last longer than the 10 minutes after they are unwrapped.

Sorting out this bloody list takes forever, but sorted it I have. Now there is only one, last, seemingly small but insurmountable problem: The Husband.

‘my Mum won’t want to get them that, she’ll want to do this’

‘my Mum will want to spend more money on them than that’

‘why does your Mum get to give the good presents?’

‘my Mum has to travel this year, so she wants to get them something smaller’

I DON’T CARE! You asked me to make the sodding list. If you don’t like what I’m recommending then get something else. But don’t keep on coming back to me to come up with more ideas. And enough already on the my mum / your mum thing. My Mum came up with an idea, I thought it was a good one, she’s running with it. Your Mum can buy whatever she wants for the boys. You think my Mum gets more of everything with the kids: time, better present ideas, better everything. I think I try to be fair and give both grandmothers plenty of grandchild time. If you want to the kids to spend more time with your mother, then go right ahead and take them over whenever you want. If you want your Mum to buy more eye catching whizzy presents for them, then feel free to come up with the thing to get. What I am not going to do is take an idea that my Mum had, say ‘hey Mum, great idea, do you know what, let’s get the other Granny  to buy it because Husband is having a hissy fit about which Granny is more favoured’.

I know full well what is going to happen. It happened last year too. After all the shenanigans about whose parents are buying what, the grandparents have been given the best toy recommendation of them all, the thing that the kids do actually really want. I have been assured that they will buy them, so haven’t bought them myself. The Grandparents then go off list and purchase something completely different. So, on Christmas Day, I will be the one who will be dealing with the disappointment of two little boys who haven’t been bought the one thing that they really wanted.

Additional Note: I don’t mean to sound all spoilt and petulant about people buying my children presents. I really am most grateful to everyone who does. Well, maybe not everyone. Those buying annoying toys which pay an electronic tune will earn my plots of revenge rather than gratitude. But you know what I mean.

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 9 other followers