Friday, 21 December 2012

What really bugs me about Christmas...

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.


  1. Hear, hear. It takes a pretty strong willed person to take a stand and not get sucked into the whole 'buying fest'.

    Enjoy your chicken! I've found a duck in the depths of the freezer and 'just' four of us will be eating that.

  2. I'm with you all the way on this, Maggie. We don't buy into the consumerism either, and I love a home-made Christmas (see today's post). We don't have turkey either - love a haunch of venison when we can afford it - but this year we have goose (a gift from a friend) and a little roll of salt-reared lamb from Eynons (on the principle that less is more and the taste will be sublime!) I don't have instant anything type food - it's all home-made - and yes, I too have a cupboard full of preserves I've made to hand out to friends. Like you, it's just immediate family here for Christmas, which is a bit of a bugg*r when it comes to washing up, but hey-ho, there will be six of us to fight over that this year : )

    I don't think I have EVER bought a gift bag either . . .

    Merry Christmas and give Itsy a hug from me.

  3. Brilliant post. I really think Christmas should be scaled down and you've done it beautifully and with great care. Bravo. Never feel guilty about not being able to always recpricate (though your gifts are always thoughtful little gems), it's not a competition whatever the adverts have us believe.

    I have a thing about giving and receiving money - just what IS the point?

    We are inviting someone to Christmas lunch who is on his own in the village. I know for some it's absolutely the worst time of year... especially if you've lost someone close. xxx

  4. Quite right! Just for info - two of your covered sketchbooks from the craft fair are now under a tree in North Cambridgeshire!

  5. Do Christmas your own way and you will be happier. I often make handmade gifts for people and spend months doing them so that I'm not rushed at the end. One thing I did last year was save all my Xmas cards, cut them into arty small pieces and then decoupaged them onto squares - making really gorgeous sets of gift tags for other people. Hand made stuff (unless really crappy) is always appreciated. And fairly cheap.

  6. Tomorrow, th whole family will be here — seven of us. Three generations. That's good. The grandchildren are not presents-conscious. J put the presents out today (before the grandkids went home from their sleepover with us) and nobody thought much about them.

    Merry Christmas, Mags, to all of you. And I hope 2013 will be a great year!

  7. I have done Christmas my way since my mother, who hated it all, and grumbled incessantly about it, bless her, died. And it's lovely; low-key, slow, simple, and getting simpler every year (hurrah for e-cards!) but always warm and welcoming. Yours sounds lovely too.

    A really good thing this year is the digibox not working properly, so the tv sticks on BBC News (too grim to watch, mostly) and as we aren't too interested anyway, we haven't watched any television at all!


I am sorry to have to add word verification thing again but I keep getting spammed.