A Shropshire lass who went away and a New Yorker who came to stay

At the top of Mount Crumpit

I little care for Xmas time. I’m one of those bods, unlike Lucy, who can’t wait for the holiday season to end. (At some point in writing this blog, I plan to be the less jaded former Londoner/New Yorker perhaps as a New Year’s Resolution!) During my tender years living in New York, it always felt like Xmas was a way to fortify yourself for the real action – 26 December sales. Feelings of warmth, family, festive feeling swamped by a possible 75 percent discount on a desired top.

Growing up, I never harboured those cuddly Christmas feelings. Those postcard celebrations just weren’t my working class family. We didn’t have such traditions. Unless you count my mother who was a nurse heading out to work on Christmas day; my younger sister out with my Dad celebrating with his side of the family (from the age of 13 I simply refused to go); me, sitting happily I might add, with a plate piled high with food my mother made before she went to work, on my lap in front of the TV watching “It’s a Wonderful Life” (it was like new every time), oblivious to any irony.

My indifference to Xmas never really changed not even when I had my daughter because we lived a peripatetic life including a stint in India. And for the past 12 years, I have allowed Xmas holidays to glide us by with little fanfare.

Sure, I would do the obligatory Xmas tree and gifts on her behalf, as well as the standard Christmas meal inviting other folks at various times because I love cooking for hordes. However, when our family went from three to just us two, it was a downshift into total relaxation time. My daughter eats like a bird so our menu is a pretty simple affair on the days I’m not rushed off my feet doing massive cooking.

Lack of tradition becomes tradition

Usually the weather complies and is cold.  We’re at home, sofa-lolling in front of the TV with a tin of Quality Street and a DVD movie line up. My daughter’s ultimate joy is seeing snow during the season. It’s better than presents. She’s wonderful about not receiving a torrent of gifts. When we lived in India, we realised how easy it is to have things just for the sake of it and they were so many people who didn’t have half of what we did. Plus extra gifts didn’t give us extra pleasure. While we were in India on her birthday she surprised everyone by asking her friends to donate a nominal rupee amount to a dog charity she had visited with her Dad.

At the age of eight when we returned to London, I gave her an option for both her birthday and Xmas to have one large gift or several small but not so useful presents she was likely to lose interest in (suggestive some may say, guidance I counter). She plumped for a single gift they are usually generous items though like a bike one year and a theatre show another, so that has become a tradition. She never complains about missing anything nor insists on having more.

Warm winter’s evening

However, this year is a game changer: it is the second year my daughter is off to spend the Xmas holiday with her Dad in India.  Here we are, in the perfect environs in Shropshire should we want that wholesome country Xmas vibe going but my excuse is going away. The idea that we won’t share our usual comfortable easy  Xmas feels a bit wretched. I guess even a lack of tradition becomes one!

Now, lo and behold, I have a real hankering for a Lucy-type Xmas. Suddenly, I understand the urge for wanting to make this time special. Oh God, wait a minute it’s like one of those awful feel-good movies where you’ve been bashed over the head several times throughout the film with the moral of the story. it wouldn’t have gone amiss if at the end of the movie they added a frame like they did in silent films with scrolled letters stating: “The moral of this story if you missed it, you blithering idiot, was  ___”. And that’s me getting the point at last – it’s about being together dummy!

So here we are in the run up to Xmas time and I’ve already dragged out the Xmas tree and decorations. I’ve climbed down Mount Crumpit and this weekend, my daughter, a friend and I are off to the German fair in Birmingham and there are further plans for popcorn threading, mulled wine (not for her, for me), Xmas music, movies and, of course…sofa-lolling.

by Claire

Categories: Life