At Least the Kids Are Home-Made…

Okay, now I’m feeling Christmassy. Not so up til now, despite ordering turkey, buying presents, wrestling with wrapping paper and sending out roughly 200 cards. Yes, 200. I really should cross off Persephone who we met in Majorca 16 years ago, my mother’s friends and people who never send us one, but each year I lose the will to prune the list scientifically, so just keep writing. I suspect half the intended victims of my Christmas cheer have moved. Got that bit cracked though- we don’t put on a return address, so they can’t all flood back through our letterbox. Yet it’s gutting to think of my beautiful cards sitting in a morose heap on the post office floor with return to sender hastily scribbled on them. Perhaps we should bung on a return address for next year, then see if 199 reappear.

I didn’t even feel Christmassy when writing our round robin newsletter, which is a riot to write; great to look back at our family romp through the year. The only bit which has anything at all to do with why we’re writing it are the last few words: Merry Christmas to everyone. Might save a lot of time to write only those four words next time. Or is that why they invented cards?

Today, I feel Christmassy, because the tree has gone up. Even as I write, I can see my beautiful green spruce, bedecked in red and gold with three sets of lights, smelling wonderful. For clarity- it’s the tree bedecked etc, not me. The effect would be better if the hall wasn’t strewn with empty bauble boxes, non-functioning lights and broken decorations lying on a carpet of pine needles. Nonetheless, junk aside, it now looks and smells like Christmas.

We all approach Christmas differently. A friend of mine, who is an excellent cook, had a week off work and said that she would spend most of it cooking. I can’t imagine what she will be making. Even if I made everything from scratch, by three o’clock on the first day I’d have finished all the things that I know how to make. Her Christmas must be much more elaborate than ours, doubtless with her mince pies, stuffing, cake and pudding all home-made. I must mention to her sometime that all of these can come from the internet, with one click, pre-made. Marvellous.

On the 25th, she even serves home-made Christmas pudding after lunch. I broke this tradition years ago when I found that after Christmas lunch they couldn’t squish it in. My friend says that her family carefully pace themselves through lunch, so that they have a Christmas pudding shaped gastric space left. Both my sons are over 6 foot, so the words careful and pacing are not ones that would naturally be applied to mealtimes. Though they eat big, they speak less. Succinct, my boys, at times when they’re not being voluble.

Recently when the register was being taken at my son’s school, his teacher asked for everybody to reply with something Christmassy. Most people replied with ‘Ho, ho, ho’ or ‘Jingle all the way’ etc. When he got my son, he called,




Now I must trail off to de-needle the front hall, bin the brokens, stagger to the basement clutching a ton of empty boxes, then make a few mince pies. Or maybe I’ll just gaze at my tree and send for the food.


Alison Gardiner 2013


About alisongardiner1

Writer of YA series of books. Broadcaster/podcaster Litopia After Dark.
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