I slaved over a home made gingerbread house yesterday afternoon for two hours. It ended up a massive eye-bomb, a technically flawed disaster and utter turd. As I shoved handfuls of pointless and unrequired decorative Jelly Tots into my mouth, not even bothering to chew, Ed walked into the kitchen, froze, and dropped some brand new, never mentioned before information and wailed and whined and said…
All he ever wanted in the world this Christmas was a gingerbread house, didn’t I know? And why didn’t I try harder and do another one? Perhaps the Gruffalo cave like last year and perhaps I should go on the internet and find a better recipe?
My tongue, sizzling all fat and swollen from excessive jelly tot sugar (pretty) lolled out my mouth as I held out a spatula with unwanted, flaccid icing dripping off it. And a light bulb went off in my brain. And I thought,
“The answer to that, little boy, is no”.
This odd little incident was a marvellous wake-up call. A gift in disguise, wrapped up in a little bit of bratty. It was a highlighter pen illuminating my ridiculously high and inevitably unachievable targets of making my life into one big John Lewis Christms advert. I have been busting my Christmas balls trying to make everything at home the epitome of festive perfection and trying to get all the Christmas jobs done Hans Solo. Ed’s little one way discussion today was a torch beam being shone in my face as a choir of angels sang behind me in backup and Jesus himself looked down at me through parted clouds and said
“It’s my birthday Han! Pop on some Wham and open the Prosecco! John Lewis have a whole team of people, including highly salaried advertising and marketing geniuses to create the illusion of Christmas perfection. You should see their own private houses though! They look rubbish!”
It made me realise whilst trying to create the perfect Christmas, and fit as much in as possible, I had too many pots on the boil, and the only one beating themselves up over it not being perfect, was me.
But Christmas is memories being made for the boys! I thought.
Christmas is about traditions for the boys! I cried.
Both sentences always ending with “for the boys”.
Stuffing my face with the chocolate buttons (surplus to roofing requirements now that there was no edible roof), I hit on the epiphany that even though I am 32, I should still get a Christmas too. Christmas is about memories, and indeed I think waxing lyrical and remembering Christmasses of the past is part of the excitement of the Christmas of the now. I still have the right to make good memories for myself and enjoy Christmas for what it is, and not what I strive (impossibly) for it to be. It’s one day a year that gets lodged in your memory forever and I don’t want my grownup Christmas memories being ones of me feeling inadequate.
10 minutes after Ed made me feel like I would miss every Christmas holiday of his life the moment he could legally leave home and go find a woman (or a man) who could make the perfect gingerbread house, he poked his head round the door as I ate the chocolate buttons off the crappy gingerbread hovel and said
“Merry Christmas, mummy. You are the best mummy ever. Did I tell you that today?”
And then I had a marvellous time smashing the crap out of the gingerbread house and putting the smashed up bits in a bowl in the porch, shoving it behind the smelly wellies and reaping the fabulous Christmassy smell that way.