Tis the season

I don’t usually think about christmas this early, in fact if anything I try and avoid it for as long as possible. By the time christmas day actually comes I often feel like I’ve been flogged to death by christmas spirit and the one christmas album all the shops seem to play. The downside of that is that I always feel afterwards that we didn’t do a very good job at the whole thing.

We’ve been downsizing christmas for quite a few years now: in both our families we’ve all agreed you pick one name out of a hat to buy for, we’ve banned presents for the kids other than from us and the grandparents and JM and I just do something nice together rather than forage for gifts. All of which is great, not least because xmas shopping takes about 2 afternoons and I get to feel very smug watching all those stressed shoppers zip around town. Except that the whole point of downsizing wasn’t to kill xmas it was to ditch the consumption and reclaim the celebration and that’s the bit we haven’t figured out yet.

I want to make xmas a time that is magical and fun for the kids, full of traditions and meaning and not about just getting stuff. Good intentions haven’t got me very far in previous years because by the time December comes we are much too busy to give it the time and attention and planning that it needs. So here’s where I need your help: tell me the things you have done or heard of other people or families doing which make it special/magical/meaningful/fun.

To start you off, here’s a few I found on the internet:

* Celebrating St Nicklaus day (5th Dec), telling his story and putting shoes out for small gifts

* Reading The Grinch/Night Before Xmas on Xmas Eve

* An advent candle

Ok, so they’re not earth-shattering but it’s a start. Over to you…

La la la

About 2 months ago I did something I have been putting off for 13 years. I took a deep breath, picked up the phone and rang a man I’d never met before, never spoken to and asked if I could meet him. I’ve been wandering around this long while pretending a part of myself didn’t exist, too shit scared to dive in and see if it was still there because deep down I was pretty sure it wasn’t.

For the first 18 years of my life I was a singer. It was a massive part of my identity and activity – singing lessons, school musicals, festivals, competitions, church solos and then all of a sudden it stopped. I moved to a new town and was too busy to practice or join groups, I got rusty and embarrassed that I was rusty. I got fed up too of my competitiveness,of comparing myself to anyone else who could string a few notes together and getting smug or insecure, it was all a bit exhausting. It was easier to just shut my mouth than to challenge the proud monster within. But I lost quite a bit of who I was, of who I was created to be and have felt myself to be not quite all there these silent years.

Don’t ask me what made me do it. Literally one day I said to myself ‘Enough’. Enough remembering the glory days, enough ignoring the disappointment inside. I picked up the phone and booked my singing lessons. I am amazed how alive I feel for that half hour a week when it is me, a piano and a captive audience of one belting out some tunes. I am both better and worse than I thought I would be but man does it feel good. Life right now is a lot about being present for my nearest and dearest and all their nappy/culinary/theologising needs so this is a little chink in my week which quite simply is all about me being me. I am working for my grade 8 in Musical theatre in the spring and then the diploma after that which I can hardly believe. That darn monster still needs tamed but I think it’s high time it got taken head-on.

So, coming to a street corner near you this festive season it’s the rusty warbler! Not bloody likely, need a few more lessons ( and a serious amount of wine) before I expose the public to this work-in progress. But do you know what? Life’s too short to piss around ignoring the good things in your life all because of a wee bit of wounded pride.

Now, excuse me while I go force Jayber to watch ‘Calamity Jane’……