Today’s Guest Author – who desires to remain strictly anonymous – shares with us the first of some cautionary tales about the festive season (which seems to have arrived faster than ever) that form the helpful compendium: Bah Humbug! A Survivor’s Guide to End of Year Festivities.
(Photo: Petals and Boots)
Last weekend I decorated the Christmas tree; this weekend I decorated it again. It was the Christmas lights which caused the problem. Light of my Life thought the set of twenty lights looked rather paltry and returned home with a set of fifty lights. Before you could say Santa Claus, the tree had been stripped of all its lights and decorations and Light of my Life calmly said, “The rest is up to you”.
Fifty lights should go twice as far as twenty, so I thought that it would be easy. But the fifty lights did not go even as far as the twenty lights had. After three disastrous attempts, the happy Christmas mood was decidedly fragile. I glared across the room at Light of my Life, imagining with some satisfaction the Christmas lights wrapped tightly around a neck.
Luckily the survival instinct kicked in. Light of my Life calmly unwound the lights from the tree and laid them along the floor. Then laid the despised set of twenty lights parallel with them. The cable lengths were identical. So to fit fifty lights on the cable the gaps between lights were much smaller. Any hope of completing the task was impossible.
The twenty lights were then replaced on the tree and the redecorating completed, without the joyous mood of the previous occasion. The fifty lights were fitted into their box to be returned. Seasonal lesson learnt? Decorating the Christmas tree can only be enjoyed once in any Christmas season. The second or third time around, it’s just a hard slog.
(Photo: Inspiring Interns)
Other seasonal lessons that I have learnt the hard way include keeping some spare Christmas cards, as well as the appropriate priced card postage stamps. Someone that you have forgotten inevitably sends you a card. You can mask your forgetfulness because you are using the Christmas card postage rate, rather than the standard stamp – a dead give-away that you forgot. After Christmas, any spare cards can be stored for next year and any left over stamps can have additional postage added and be used for normal correspondence.
Even worse than the unexpected card is the unexpected visitor smilingly bearing gifts. Forward planning can have you cool and composed. Buy a couple of multipurpose items that you could use later if not needed. A nice bottle or two of wine, whisky or sherry, maybe some imported beer. Or a biscuit selection, chocolates, or some gift vouchers. Have these items wrapped and tagged, ready to be written at a moment’s notice, and no one will ever guess that they caught you out.
Food can be another area of conflict. Should it be the full traditional Monty, including a tired and harassed cook
… or a more contemporary feel? My answer is to keep the bits of tradition that I like and discard the rest. After all, Christmas is supposed to be about celebration and joy, not suffering, so why should the cook slave away, just because everyone expects it? Anyone who moans should be enlisted to help; this helps them appreciate the amount of work involved and so silences most critics.
Next week: the gentle art of present-giving …