Happy Christmas. No, Dear Reader, I am not too late, because there are Twelve Days of Christmas and we’ve only had five so far. My Christmas is going very well. Thank you for asking. However, we have now reached the point in the Christmas season where there is weeping, wailing, gnashing of teeth and talk of Dry January. Woe is us because we have over-eaten, over-spent, drunk too much and put on weight. Christmas is tooooo commercialised these days, isn’t it? Statistics for the Charlie Britten Christmas excesses have just been published:
- Family members staying at our house over Christmas – 5 including Special Grandson, aged 14 months.
- Christmas cake, baked by me and decorated amazingly by Best Son-in-Law – one, not yet touched, because it’s tooo peeeerrrrfect and intact.
- Mincepies baked – about 120. Most were intended for the eats after Lessons and Carols Service at church, and some for general consumption at home. 30 left.
- Sausage rolls baked – about 100, of which about 40 still left. Most of them now in freezer.
- Christmas puddings prepared and cooked – 2 small ones. One eaten, one in freezer.
- Trifle made, using fresh pineapple because Best Son-in-Law and I forgot to buy tin of fruit – one. All gone.
- Pots of houmous made – 4 small pots. One eaten, one in fridge (because Favourite Son and Girlfriend forgot to take it back with them) and 2 in freezer.
- Boxes of biscuits purchased – 2, neither of them opened.
- Pizzas made – 8. 5 eaten for evening meal on Christmas Eve, 2 in freezer and one little pizza consumed for Christmas Day tea, by Special Grandson, who had refused to eat turkey and vegetables for Christmas dinner.
- Dishwasher cycles per day – 3.
- Washing machine loads per day – 2, with concomitant ironing.
- Number of times per day it was necessary to hoover hall carpet and under Christmas tree – Daily.
- Broken – 3 ‘best’ plates, 1 ‘best’ wine glass and 1 fridge door shelf.
- Colds – 2. One suffered by Beloved Daughter, the other by me.
- Stockings made – 1. Designed by Best Son-in-Law, stitched by Beloved Daughter and opened by Special Grandson.
- Church services for which One And Only Husband played the organ – 5, including one funeral. (A big thank you to Edward who played on Christmas Day, as the total would otherwise have been 6.)
- Church services attended by other members of family – 3, including 2 by me, and one (different one) by Beloved Daughter, Best Son-in-Law and Special Grandson.
- Household issues sorted out – 1. Ancient telly, not capable of picking up digital signal but nevertheless taking up space in sitting-room, taken to tip by Beloved Daughter and Best Son-in-law. New telly about to be purchased by OAO Husband, to replace a different – not quite so ancient – telly. (He understands that Curry’s will take NQSA one away.)
- Hardware issues sorted out – 1 web cam now fully functioning and tested on Skype with Favourite Son, several times.
- Items left behind by Special Grandson – 2 vests, 3 bibs, part of toy, one lego brick, one pack of nappies and half of baby-monitor.
- Weight lost – 1lb. Surprised? Me too.
- Books read – 1.
- Thank you letters written – all.
- Family arguments – 0.
Were we excessive, Dear Reader. Yes, probably, but I’m so grateful I have a family and friends to buy presents for. Besides, what other opportunities do I have during the year to buy sensible shoes for Favourite Son? Christmas is time for families to come together. I enjoy cooking, and best of all when other people are cooking around me, everyone working happily together to make Christmas Day special. Yes, I cooked too much, and I always do, but what’s left over can always go in the freezer, or, in the case of biscuits, sit in their boxes. I used to cook traditional English Christmas food with my mother and grandmother; I love the idea that I’m now passing all this on to the next generation.
Of course, I am moved by the plight of people who are lonely at Christmas and who don’t have enough. 63% of respondents to a survey carried out by Evangelical Alliance agreed that Christmas is a time for being ‘generous to people less fortunate than ourselves’. I also understand the embarrassment of people who don’t have enough money for the sort of presents they would like to give, but I think we all have it in ourselves to be tactful and considerate in the way we give to them.
I think of it this way. My son’s girlfriend, who had been job-hunting for months, has been given a twelve-week Christmas job at a call centre, selling customers their Christmas excesses and dealing with their complaints afterwards. It pays rent and food. I recall that my daughter also got a Christmas job with Curry’s years ago… and that one lasted five years. I cannot find statistics for the total Christmas spend in the UK in 2014, although according to Internet Retailing £13bn was spent online before 25 December, but I’m sure Christmas represents a large proportion of it. It could be that our Christmas excesses are bolstering up the economy for the rest of the year.