What really bugs me about Christmas is the way TV adverts and magazines portray it. We see harassed mum going from shopping to cleaning to party to cooking and then relative after relative arriving to open piles of expensive presents before squeezing around a table to eat a massive turkey.
Is it really like that? Or are we just made to feel that is how it should be so we spend lots of money trying to achieve that TV advertland ideal?
Martin Moneysavingexpert Lewis has been ranting about this for years - about how we feel obligated to give cards and buy presents we can't afford for people we don't like. He's taken a lot of flack for saying it but he has got a point.
I blame the gift bag for starters. I don't know who invented them but they are ridiculous! What happened to the single, individually wrapped present? A gift bag begs to be FILLED and that's expensive. Of course they're perfect when gifting for families as you can tuck everyone's present in together but not one bag each - unless you can afford it and as long as they then don't feel obligated to equally reciprocate.
I'm learning not to feel guilty about not always being able to reciprocate. We can't keep up with the lovely relatives who send our children cash. It seems crazy to then send it back to theirs, but we have done that in the past.
I LOVE buying presents. I buy Christmas presents all year round if I see the right thing and I stick to my budget, not because I'm Scrooge but because I don't have any alternative.
I LOVE making presents, which is why Magatha Bagatha came into being and I LOVE giving presents (especially to children).
I worry about those with small families, those who work on Christmas Day, those who live on their own and will be spending the day alone, those who have lost jobs, those who have lost relatives. Christmas in advertland isn't how it's supposed to be. That's someone else's Christmas. We should all stick to our own individual versions, tailor-made to suit ourselves and our budget and, definitely, not feel obligated, not feel guilty and not feel OMG-how-can-I-afford-this?!
Here, in our little part of the Preseli Hills, this is how things are:
We HATE turkey - so we're having chicken. Three generations will sit in COMFORT around the dining table - there's five of us (not 'only' five, just five). The tree isn't a Norwegian spruce (LOVE the smell, HATE the price) it's a willow branch (and some Crabtree and Evelyn Noel room spray for fragrance.) I HATE tinsel (so it's quarantined upstairs where the children have lovingly wound it around everywhere). This is NOT America so there's no cranberry sauce. I haven't bought a SINGLE gift bag (we're always given plenty to recycle!) If you turn up and I'd like to give you a present, I WILL give you marmalade but don't feel obligated to give anything back. I bought ONE pack of Christmas cards and ONE book of stamps and they're all used up now so if you didn't get a card, I'm sorry but HAPPY CHRISTMAS anyway.
Have a very happy Christmas everyone, and have YOUR perfect Christmas, not somebody else's.