Tuesday 2 December 2008

Jingle bells

Christmas is a coming. The season starts for me on 1st December asit's on that day I stop changing channels whenever a Christmas advert, that's been showing since August, comes on the TV. All those impossibly glamorous ads for the latest perfumes and aftershaves means that the turkeys should start feeling nervous. Equally the countdown to the holiday ads which start on Boxing Day also begins. So the excitement begins to build...especially as it seems this year we'll be having flurries of snow throughout December.

We'll get our office Xmas tree from the very fabulous Borough Market at a price which is about double what anyone with any sense of reason or fairness (or credit crunch) would charge for it, but it'll look lovely once we've put the lights and (corporate orange) baubles on it.

At home the Xmas Decs will go up around the fifteenth of the month...Brighton has a very unsophisticated 6' fibre optic tree which kinda catches the spirit of the season, but in Buckhurst Hill there just isn't room for a tree, so we throw some sparkly lights on the bushes which I've done my utmost to kill this year...inability rather than anything deliberate you understand of course, I hope.

Today, whilst trying to find my way to Cavendish Square, being guided by a satnav which has little sense of direction, and certainly doesn't know its left from its right, I ended up somewhere between Piccadilly and Soho, ducking under some gargantuan snow men hung across the streets. Which was nice. And then turned into Regent Street, where the Christmas lights are a beautiful series of twinkling spiderswebs. Fabulous.

I love Christmas...secretly I still believe in Santa Claus, love the Christmas lights and remain convinced that there will be six inches of snow when I wake up on the 25th, and relive happy childhood memories of large family gatherings which just seemed to go on and on and on.

But this year, Christmas has become a bit of a challenge...for the last four years, the boy and I have dutifully trecked down to Llantrisant to spend time with The Wicked Witch of the West. It seems only fair that if TWWOTW has lost her daughter, then grandson should be there. And the boy has always enjoyed going. The first couple of year's the boy's sister deigned to honour us with her company, so it was a good family gathering for the two of them. But the sister has singularly failed to keep in touch with "itttle bruvva", almost since they were separated and she went off to live with her father whilst the boy came to me. And she is less and less inclined to come across to the Christmas celebrations.

Equally as time has gone on, I've felt more and more like a rasher of bacon at a Jewish wedding (sorry, not PC - please suggest acceptable alternative)...not that I'm not welcomed with open arms, its just that they didn't speak to me for five years from the onset of divorce procedings until the day that the brain haemorrhage struck down the boy's mum. So it's always a little uncomfortable (my problem, not their's)

And then last year, after a day of doing nothing but watching TV (apart from a couple of hours when I escaped for a very long walk by myself), I vowed not to spend the day in Wales again.

Which went down like a lead balloon when I told them ("Well you're always welcome you know"), but the boy merely shrugged his shoulders when I started dropping hints about nine months ago. And he's right, it's my decision not his...but some guidance would help.

So all well and good providing we have a good alternative. But we don't. I haven;'t got a Plan B, let alone a Plan A.

At one stage I thought we might get to ski for Christmas...but tightening of belts and declining business haven't allowed for that

And there's a high risk of the boy and I in Brighton entertaining ourselves for Christmas Day. And even I know that's not good.

So either I swallow my pride, make the arrangements to go west, or spend a day full of guilt-ridden angst...now which should it be?


  1. I don't know enough about you & your boy to give you an definitive opinion. My gut instinct is that you should put your own feelings aside and decide what is in the boy's best interest. Would going/not going affect his relationship with his grandparents and/or other members of his extended family? You know best. I wish you well in coming to a decision.

  2. I am so like you in the Christmas doesn't start till the 1st December !

    My last 2 have been horrible and I am hoping third time lucky ?

    My suggestion (as you know I'm bossy anyway) is that you do something you will BOTH be comfortable with,(if you're unhappy, he'll know and feel bad that you're in Wales solely for him).

    You can pinch my plan and
    amend it if you like, the children and I are going to wake up, drink champagne and eat party food from Marks and Spencer, no xmas dinner, just a buffet of nice stuff all day, we are going to play Guitar hero world tour and any other games we're given and then after 6pm we have open house for ANY friends that want to come round, so all their mates that are bored at home can come to me and give their own parents a rest, any of my friends are welcome to pop round and have a drink and hopefully we will all have company and it'll be slightly more fun.

    You may find you have other friends who don't want to be on their own either, I'm sorry I'm not nearer or you and the boy could have guitar hero'd with us !

    let us know what you decide x

    You can always go and visit Granny in Wales on another day, so he doesn't miss visiting his Mum's family.

  3. We always used to spend Christmas with friends when I was a child...the same friends. Not family, because we lived abroad. It worked rather well as there were none of the usual family tensions but it still felt like a tradition. So, one idea might be that you could try to do that on Christmas day and see the Welsh rellies on Boxing Day/another day?

  4. I'm with nappy valley here, friends are always a good option, especially ones in a similar place? MH

  5. you could always spend xmas with grandma in cyprus

  6. Well the decision is made...after I mentioned that I'd spoken to his gran and she said she wanted to know what we are doing, he said could we go to Wales. I said yes.

    So thank you everyone for your thoughts - much appreciated. Unfortunately all our friends are with family, so not an option; champagne to wake up to sounds good!; Cyprus would be lovely...but has to be ruled out on the grounds of cost...perhaps another time when the economy hasn't gone into revers!

  7. I would make sure at least some of the festivities are on your terms RTFM. Yes, there is duty, but there is also making sure that the rest of the celebrations are on your terms, or even just getting the Welsh rellies on neutral territory like out for a pub meal instead of in the claustrophobic confines of their house.
    They are lucky that you still go, when many former son-in-laws would probably have lost touch - they should definitely make you feel a bit more welcome at least. And you should even say something like 'I don't really feel that welcome when we come. To be honest it's been getting harder, but I do it for the boy's sake and knowing you have lost your daughter. Is there any way we can make this easier and happier for all of us?' Even if that is in a letter, you should sort it out for all your sakes. I really don't think you'd be sorry. whatever the outcome. Perhaps it is as simple as sitting down to play a game or watch a film together with a bit more effort on both sides to socialise and not beat each other up for the past - particularly for your late partner's sake.


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