We don’t like the C word in this house. And by that I don’t mean the four letter version, although we don’t like that much either. No, I’m talking about the C word that is more usually associated with reindeer and sleighs. And simply because it always causes arguments. Coming from a family where my mother would ritually threaten to “Cancel Christmas” every year - (she never did to be fair) - I’ve ended up as someone who loves the entire shebang. Carol concerts give me a lump in the throat and small children in nativity plays make me cry. I would happily have the tree up and all the animals wearing tinsel by December 1st. Mr. H is more your “Bah humbug” kind of guy, so every year we have a stand off about what is going to happen and when.
He argues the case for environmental concerns and over consumption of disposable items. In other words, no cards are to be sent or presents bought. I simply ignore him. Which obviously, is not great for marital harmony. But this year, even I have realised that we will have to spend carefully - we simply haven’t got the cash to do otherwise, so no comedy Breton condoms (they really do exist) in the teenagers Christmas stockings. Besides, as I mentioned the other week, the French tax payer is already keeping the teens adequately supplied with contraceptive devices.
So this year we have compromised and agreed that we are going to make presents for each other. Now this is okay for Mr. H who is quite handy with the plane and the lathe (biblical Christmas reference fully intended) but for yours truly - there’s no chance. I am about the least creative soul on the planet. I always recall my first mother in law, asking which crafts and hobbies I enjoyed. “Do you sew Catharine? Make pottery? Knit? Paint? Weave? Play any instruments?” By the time she’d run through the whole gamut of possible leisure activities, with an increasing note of desperation in her voice and realised that I didn’t even ‘bake,’ the death knell had already sounded on our relationship. So I have absolutely no idea, whatsoever, as to what I could produce that anyone might possibly want to receive.
I will probably resort to tokens. These are a staple feature in our household. The idea being, you issue the token and then hope the bearer either loses it, or never gets round to redeeming it. I’ve been doing this for years. I got the idea from my parents who gave me one as a pony mad twelve year old. It said, “This token entitles the bearer to a 14.2h bay gelding.” I was over the moon until I read the typed disclaimer at the bottom - “This item is currently out of stock but the token can be redeemed for a new pair of jeans instead.” They thought it was hilarious. I have remained traumatised but my therapist says I can deal with this by doing the same to my own kids.
At some point the kids might find all their tokens, cash them in and I will be forced to spend an entire fortnight visiting Roman villas, taking them ice-skating and buying seven guinea pigs. In the meantime, I’m just going to give Mr. H a token promising “Not to put tinsel around all the cats collars before December 15th” - yeah right....