To start the month, just three important things to remember
Remember - “list things” not “lost things”
According to that rather sinister song, Santa is ‘making a list, and checking it twice’. Keep writing everything down – in a notebook or your filofax, on your pc or phone, on the whiteboard in the kitchen, somewhere, anywhere. But make sure you KNOW where your list is! If you find yourself jotting things on the backs of envelopes or scraps of paper, then as soon as you can transfer them to the ‘proper’ Christmas list repository [rewrite it, type it up, or glue it down!] Things to make lists of
- presents – given and received
- cards – to post, to hand deliver, overseas ones to send early
- food – shopping lists and menu plans – don’t forget pet food!
- events – despite our best efforts, Bob and I managed to miss one event last year, and I am so sorry we let our friends down. Life is very busy. Check the calendar regularly each evening, to remind you what is happening next day.
- essentials to have in store [such as loo paper, wrapping paper, binbags, teabags, tissues and basic medication]
- essential laundry to do beforehand [enough clean sheets, clean underwear, clean towels]
Those happy, shiny people in that article were probably photographed in September, with fake snow. Half a dozen stylists artfully arranged the holly and the Christmas cards, and airbrushed out the wrinkles, painted food with oil to make it glisten, and found beautifully co-ordinated clean clothes for adults and children to wear. They have special Christmas china, and repaint walls to show off the tree to best advantage. Being a geek, I scrutinise this pictures in minute detail – and notice the same cards re-arranged throughout the house in the various photos! You are a normal person – your children tread mud across the carpet, leave the TV remote on the sofa and cushions on the floor. How often do you see a TV, or its remote on show in these photos? do these people have to go next door to watch the Christmas Downton/Dr Who/etc on the neighbour’s telly? Do not expect to live in an unreal Show Home.
Remember – “Presence” not “Presents”
It’s obvious – but we need to remind ourselves of this every year. I’ve already listened recently to people complaining about the ‘pathetic’ Secret Santa gift they got last year in their workplace, or stressing because they cannot afford to splash out on the same sort of gifts as wealthier family members. It’s only ‘stuff’ – and we all have too much of that anyway. Don’t waste time feeling guilty about what you can’t afford to give, or resentful about what you don’t receive.
It is more important to me that at some point in the season [not necessarily on 25th Dec] I can hug my nearest and dearest, and wish them love, joy and peace in the year ahead. Sainsbury's remind us that Christmas is for sharing, and John Lewis tell us we all need someone to love. I shall not be sending chocolate bars to German soldiers, nor yet finding mates for penguins. I shall be giving some small tokens of affection – inexpensive, quirky, but with great love – but I honestly don’t care about the size of my own stack of gifts under the tree. It is the presence of those I love which matters – and most of all, the presence of the Christ child in our hearts.