Christmas musings

Hello, hello. I have been stuck for the last two days in the middle of the hell that is Christmas shopping.

We are downsizing Christmas again this year. The two girls couldn’t think of anything much they wanted, and lists had to be wrung out of them using thumb screws. Neither Jason or I want anything and the only person with an endless list is the boy. This is allowed because he is ten, and excitable.

You would think that Christmas shopping when nobody really wants much would be easier, except that with a budget and very specific, if small lists, it means that everything has to be just right, and I have spent more time worrying about it than in the years when I have just thought ‘fuck that noise’ and loaded the credit card to the rafters with tat.

I think I have just about finished now. There is the odd thing, which as ever, is proving impossible. With my kids it is never the must have item of the year, because we’ve never done that. If they ever wanted whatever it was, they just got an IOU until after Christmas when all the fuss had died down and you didn’t have to drive to Azerbaijan to beat someone to death with your shoe for something they’d lose interest in three weeks later anyway. No, with my kids it’s the peculiar things they want that are not that easy to track down because they aren’t readily available in high street shops. Things like vintage Beano comics or corduroy dungarees. The internet makes this less stressful than it used to be, but it is still not as easy as it sounds when their needs are so specific and they are very definite about what they do and don’t like. So corduroy dungarees is fine, but ones with the correct width of cord and the right colour and not too tight and with this kind of pocket is less fine.

Still, they are all ok with waiting, and they know that if something isn’t immediately available, that even if it is obscure, we will track it down eventually and that waiting for something does not mean that Christmas is ruined. I do like to try though, hence the inevitable few days of madness when I am running around trying to source random, and I mean random, things from here, there and everywhere.

It seems odd that I don’t want anything. Regular readers will know that I am one of the wantiest people in the world. I am unashamedly an enthusiastic consumer and propper upper of capitalism par excellence. There is never not a rolling list of things that delight my heart and that I would love to own.

I have, over the last twelve months however, changed in quite a lot of ways and one of those ways is realising that my hunger for things has often been as much an addiction as someone else’s hunger for gin, or heroin, or crisps. I have been working on this, and the proof of the pudding is that this Christmas, despite being presented with an array of the shiniest of shiny things as I shop, I have not really been tempted to indulge. It feels rather liberating.

I have so much already and there is nothing I need, and if there is something I really want, I am in the lucky position of not having to wait until Christmas to have it, should the want be really pressing. My house is overflowing with things, lovely things that I adore and do not, for one moment, regret buying, but there is only so much one woman can own without turning into Elton John. I do not want to be Elton John. I’m not sure Elton John wants to be Elton John a lot of the time to be honest.

I am not, for one moment saying that this makes me a wonderful person. It doesn’t. I’m still the same flawed, ridiculous person I was before. I’m not saying that this will last. It might not. That’s alright. I’m just saying that actually, for me right now, it’s really nice not to be consumed with want for stuff. It’s not that when I have the things I want they seem hollow and empty, because they don’t. Like I said, everything I own makes me very happy indeed, but it is pretty amazing to be able to just walk away from things and not regret not buying them.

The last couple of days of buying trauma are a small price to pay for what I hope will be our loveliest Christmas yet. We are going away for the week before Christmas, to our favourite holiday cottage in the hills of North Wales. We are going to sit in front of the fire, reading books and eating buns and relaxing. We come home on Christmas Eve when I will contemplate whether it is worth wrestling the tree down from the loft. It may not be. Our Christmas day, as ever, will be quiet. It will be just us, the cat and the tortoise, eating too much, reading a lot and watching films together. I cannot wait.



14 responses to “Christmas musings

  1. Your Christmas sounds lovely! We’re spending it in England this year, so it will be a crazy mess of trying to see all the relatives and friends that we haven’t seen for over a year. Relaxing at home would be so much less stressful (but then it would probably be another year before said relatives and friends got to see us!)

  2. HI Katy,
    I am so glad that you are moving away from the must have mentality, it is all around us all the time and yet rarely brings lasting happiness or inner peace and I realised some time ago I had more than enough and wanted to share more of it around. As a family we are all adults now, the youngest hit 31 this year and no grandchildren in view, so we decided some years ago not to do Christmas any more as in all the tinsel stuff. We give combined hearty donations to one or two charities, load a trolley or two up for the local foodbank, and just enjoy a stress free family meal together- we don’t even overeat too much any more and barely bother with alcohol. The younger generation all go off and see friends or whatever if they want to later on or we invite their friends to come to us if they are alone at all. NO excess, no regrets, no guilt for those who have so little, no lack of family connections and warmth together. we talk a lot, play live music. watch some TV, play cards or our once a year monopoly a la Simpsons. Once you drop the must have beliefs and cravings you are much happier with simpler life which then runs more deeply and peacefully for the rest of the year/ It really is our mid winter retreat into the darkness, if a good sunny day we ever go for walks if we can fit that in before taking my 93 yr old mother in law back to her house, she doesn’t like to stay with us for too long and there isn’t really room for all of us at her house. It has been such a revelation since we started thus. I don’t mean to sound holier than thou – I just wanted to share that you can take this even further and enjoy even more xxx

    • This sounds ideal. Really. It’s great to hear from you and I know that I will get there one day. It improves year on year and I get happier Christmases year on year too. x

  3. We’re with you in spirit. Enjoy your Christmas and that quiet open fire with just the occasional crackle to keep you from dozing off unless you already have. Sounds Bliss.

  4. I was always fortunate to have a daughter who never wanted whatever the in thing was although, like you, I’ve had times when her presents were given nearer to the following year, due to the difficulty in tracking down what she actually wanted 🙂
    But, like me, she loves books, with the Discworld being her no: 1 choice, and so I never used to have to worry about those kind of presents for her {sob}.
    It’s going to be harder nowadays but, as she still loves all the other authors that I do, at least she’ll never be without books as presents, even if they can’t be by that wonderful man 🙂
    We, too, have always preferred a quiet time over the christmas period, using that time to get closer to each other although, in our case, we’re really privileged to spend our time together here, in west Wales, on a permanent basis 🙂
    I do hope your health has improved 100% now, and that you have a wonderful time over the holidays? 🙂

  5. frenchbrandywine

    Thank you, reading your blog tends to make me feel good as you mostly re-inforce my own feelings about stuff; the other day it was donating the Christmas card money to a good cause,but do I send one this year so that I can warn them?, this time it is ‘not wanting anything for Christmas’, my lovely daughter-in-law suggested buying us a goat from World Gifts which I thought a brilliant idea.
    Stay happy. x

  6. Me too. Not wanting stuff anymore. Weird, as like you, I have a house full of stuff that I treasure, but we are also downsizing – not just Christmas, but literally. We’re putting our house on the market in the New Year, so I am trying to get rid of all the stuff I don’t really need any more. It is very liberating, as is not wanting to buy anything.

    I have a theory – that one spends the first 50 years of life acquiring stuff, and the next 50 (or whatever percentage of 50 you’re granted) getting rid of it.

    Enjoy your week away. Lovely.

  7. Your Christmas day sounds perfect. We still do as many presents as we can (which isn’t much, actually, and often things the kids really need), and then we all eat and drink and laugh and sing and watch telly with the inlaws and cousins. I love it.

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