Christmas is always a funny time of year for me. I love the idea of Christmas, and I love being able to spend some quiet time at home, with my family. What I don’t love? Is the copious amounts of money you need to spend, the amount of time/effort one day sucks out of your life, and the level of Christmas cheer I always feel I need to achieve. Also, it doesn’t help that my husband works away, and is away this Christmas, again!
Christmas is always so much hard work! I assume I’m not the only one who looks at Christmas as being much harder, than it really needs to be. I also hate that my family is sooooo far from what you see in the movies. Even the Griswold’s have their shit together more than us.
For those of you who read my blog regularly, you’ll know that my Dad has been living with us for the last few months, due to ill health. I have always said, even from a young age, that I would look after my parents if they ever took unwell. I would hate to think of them being alone, or not being looked after properly. This has not been as smooth as I would have liked. I knew it would be hard, going back to living with a parent, but when this parent is one you’ve never actually lived with, and who is one of the most difficult people on the planet to get along with, that does pose a bit of a problem. There have been waaaaay more downs, than ups. Most days I wonder if it was a good idea, but then the guilt of telling him it’s not working and he needs his own place tears me up inside. Despite there being many downs, especially of late, it was Christmas. I was determined this was going to go well. Words had been had a few days earlier, where I’d asked if we could just get through Christmas and make it a good one for the kids. It was agreed we could do this.
Friday 22nd December, was my first day off for the holidays. I chose to spend this day cleaning, moving furniture, dancing to some radio station dedicated to Christmas songs, and wrapping presents. When I woke up in the morning I was really excited to get started, but, by the same token dreading the effort it was all going to take. I thought that I needed to just throw myself out of bed and hype myself up for the day ahead. What this really meant, was I went a bit manic for a couple of hours. I was dancing and singing around the house, being a little overzealous. Can’t be bad right? Well, it resulted in my pulling my back, and rendering me in quite a bit of pain. Also, I think my daughters were a little scared of just how ‘happy’ I had become, as they kept asking me if I was ok. I said I was, but I think even the level of manic happy I had reached, was beginning to scare even me. I needed it though, because I felt that if I let the ball drop, and I stopped smiling and singing, I’d lose it, and I’d just sink into myself and not bother. It was 21:45 before I turned the hoover off and that was my cleaning done. No time to wrap, as I was just so tired, so felt I could leave it until Saturday.
Saturday 23rd was my shopping day. This year, in my infinite wisdom, I had decided to leave the Christmas food shopping to last minute and not pre-order our Turkey Crown. Let’s just say, that 3hours of my life were lost in the supermarket, I spent nearly 3 times more than I had anticipated, and I left without a turkey crown. Gutted. Who in their right mind wants to pull giblets out of a turkey? Why do they leave them in? What is their purpose? Answers on a postcard. The whole shopping experience, quite nicely, popped a pin in my rather manic Christmas cheer bubble. I was now tired, drained, skint, and bemused at how food could cost so much? I did check, and double check our receipt to be sure that nothing was double scanned, but nope, it was correct.
My Dad had decided he was going out with friends, to do the rounds and have a few drinks. Fair enough, this was good for me, as it was one less person in the house to worry about. Being so ‘happy’ throughout Friday, and then 3 stressful hours lost in a supermarket, really took its toll in the evening. A good friend of mine popped over to have a drink with me whilst I wrapped the remaining presents, but she ended up leaving early, due to me now nodding off. I had literally exhausted myself, trying to be all happy and full of Christmas Cheer.
Sunday 24th, Christmas Eve, yaaaay. I woke up in the morning, feeling a sense of calm. It was nice. I knew that the last two days had been really busy, and stressful, but I had nothing left to do. My Dad was going to bring the remaining items I needed in with him, when he came back later in the day, the house was still all shiny and clean, and all I had to do was spend time with the kids. Time to set up the RetroPie, and play some retro games with the kids. All was going well. Too well you might say. I hadn’t had to shout at anyone, I wasn’t feeling stressed, we were laughing, having fun. It was great. Then, my Dad rocks up, still drunk from the night before, none of the important items he was supposed to pick up, and a bit of an attitude. Fabulous.
I will not go into detail, but let’s just say, Christmas eve was completely ruined. I had plans to have friends over for present exchanges, and family, but I ended up having to scrap that due to me not wanting people to see him in this nick. The kids were now not happy, given his actions throughout the afternoon/evening. What had started off as a really good day, was now well and truly ruined. I tried my best to supress my feelings of complete and utter anger. I didn’t want to ruin it any further for the kids. All that was left, was for me to cry. This was tears of utter frustration. How can someone be so incredibly thoughtless and selfish? Is it because they’ve never had to consider life with children? Who actually knows. Either which way, I was furious. And for those of you that know me, or who read this blog, you know I cannot just be furious. Let’s add into the mix, my being completely upset, beside myself, feeling an overwhelming sense of failing my kids. Then the anxiety of worrying what they must think of me. Do they hate me for letting him live with us?
Growing up with alcoholic parents is hard going. To be fair, I didn’t even realise my Mum drank and smoked until I was a teenager. She concealed it well. Probably because she was never around. I guess that helps. My Dad on the other hand, has never been so subtle. My memories of spending time with him growing up always involves him being drunk. He took me to Butlins, we spent our evenings with him propping up the bar. When he took me to Blackpool, I remember us walking along the promenade looking for a pub that was suitable for kids. Even when I would visit him and we’d just stay at his, every evening he was drinking. If he had a girlfriend, I’d be left with them, whilst he went to the pub. When you’re a kid, you just assume that everyone’s parents are like this. It’s only as you get older you realise that this is not the norm. Seeing my Dad in the state he was in on Christmas Eve, just brought back all of the memories and anger I felt growing up. I will NOT have my children subjected to it. I just won’t.
I tried to redeem the day, but failed. I think the mood had gone too far south by this point, so we all resigned ourselves to giving up and going to bed. After all, it would soon be Christmas. When I went to bed, I felt hopeless. Like I’m unable to do this on my own. I started to really miss my husband, because I felt that things wouldn’t be nearly so bad if he were here. I don’t think my Dad would have behaved in this way if he was, as he never does. He’s only ever like this when he’s away. I then became bitter and resentful of the fact my husband chooses to work away. Then I started to think that I’m probably the reason. All the drama that comes with me, he’d probably rather be in the middle of the North Sea for half the year. I know I would. Well, I think we can guess how this mood turned out. It just sank me into a dark hole, of not being good enough, my life being terrible, and my kids probably hating me. What a great way to finish the evening.
Monday 25th, Christmas Day! This should be a yaaay to start with, but it wasn’t. Let’s just say my Dad had me and my eldest up from 4am with his antics. My son and I curled up in my bed watching assassins creed trying to dose back off, but we couldn’t. Then my youngest was up at 6am, so we just had to get up. We both knew this was going to make for a long day, but we put smiles on anyway. We did think about wakening my Dad up for him to see the kids opening their presents, but it was thought he’d be better to sleep it all off. Plus, if I’m honest, I could see the man far enough.
Once in the living room, we began opening our presents. The kids cried, laughed and hugged me for the presents they got, so this fair improved the overall mood. I then got to open my presents, and once I got to this painting my daughter did for me, there wasn’t a dry eye in the room:
“DREAM ON BECAUSE YOU HAVE BEEN TO HELL AND BACK, NOT HAD THE BEST LIFE, YET YOU HAVE A JOB YOU LOVE, A HUSBAND AND 4 KIDS. YOU HAVE A NICE HOUSE AND A PET. AND I FIND IT AMAZING HOW YOU HAVE BUILT YOUR LIFE FROM NOTHING”
Receiving this couldn’t have been better timed. It showed me that my kids don’t hate me like I thought. We hugged, had some happy tears, and then we cleared up all the paper and got settled in the living room watching TV and playing games. By the time my Mum popped over for the yearly ritual of a bacon roll and a cuppa after work, the mood in the house was good. We were all laughing, joking and singing. I then asked my Mum to help me with the giblets in the turkey, as they give me the absolute fear, and you know what? I’d actually picked up a prepared turkey, with stuffing, bacon & no giblets! How’s that for a bit of good luck! I get some of you reading this will be like “Settle down, it’s only giblets”, but seriously, I was so close to getting the kids to play Rock, Paper, Scissors to see who was taking them out.
My Dad woke up mid-afternoon, but decided to stay in his room until early evening when food was being dished up. I assume he was embarrassed? Or at least I hope he was. If not, I can safely assume he was feeling awful given the state he had been in.
I am definitely not the best cook. My husband loves to tell the story of the time I managed to burn a frozen pizza, yet keep it frozen in the centre. He tells that story like it’s a bad thing. I, however, see it as a talent! I’m sure that not many people could replicate it. When it came to cooking Christmas dinner, as with every year it’s up to me, I panic that it’s going to be awful. Well, this year? It was awesome. The turkey was perfect, nothing was burnt, everything was ready in time. There was enough food to feed half the street, so we’ve had plenty left overs for other meals. Everyone said they thoroughly enjoyed the meal, and all plates were cleaned. Even my youngest asked for more.
We sat around the table, pulling crackers, telling our awful jokes, laughing and just have a really good time. One of my daughters took it upon themselves to act out all of the charades, and this proved to be the most amusement our family had seen in a long time.
In spite of all the bad stuff, Christmas day for me was far better than expected. It has shown me that I have raised some of the best kids. They are amazing, loving, thoughtful, caring, funny and just all round good kids. They have absolutely made this Christmas what it is, and they have managed to turn my dark thoughts and feelings right around and bring me back to feeling happy and content. This is the PMA I’m taking away from this whole experience. I may not have the best parents, and I may not be the best myself, but I’ve clearly done something right.
I hope you all had a Merry Christmas. Thank you for the kind messages I’ve received, and I wish you all the best for the New Year.