For the first 20 or so years of my life, I rolled through Christmas as chilled as a cucumber.
I’d run through Boots and gather up loads of shit from their 3 for 2 deal, hand out Lynx box sets to every man I know and convince my mum to go and get some bottles of Guiness for my grandad. Badabing, badaboom.
Then I’d sit back and wrap them half-heartedly whilst watching Downton Abbey.
Skip to having Elliot, and as soon as 1st December comes around, I turn into Mrs Christmas.
A constant state of Mrs Christmas on Christmas Eve Eve when she realises the elves haven’t made any toys for the children of Bolton and that Father Christmas has been watching the reindeer racing instead of helping.
I can’t believe I lived for so long thinking Christmas was a time of calm and joy. Now I have Elliot, and more importantly now we have a house, I can see why my Dad was running around until 3am every Christmas Eve night. It’s stressful!
Last Christmas, we stayed in just us three and it was fine. We only had a minor disagreement about roast potatoes and it all turned out okay. Elliot even ate a sprout.
This year, however, we’re hosting. I keep saying that like I’ve got the 5000 coming round my house for loaves and fish…it’s the in-laws, they’re coming round for Christmas dinner. It’s serious though, it takes everything to a whole new level of Adulting.
I want them to walk in and think “Wow! Hayley has her shit together, she is such a good hostess! There will be no tears about roast potatoes today! She is definitely not in the kitchen sniffing the gin to try and survive until 3pm.”
…Let’s ignore that they come round every week anyway and have seen me through many stages of not-having-my-shit-together, from freaking out over a wasp and accidently setting off the smoke alarm trying to kill it with hairspray to suffering with mastitis and shoving my red lumpy boob in everyone’s faces whilst sobbing.
So really, my new tablecloth I’ve bought won’t mean shit, but it’s the thought that counts – right?
I’ve got the essentials in – vodka, baileys, turkey and approx 24 pigs in blankets. I even panic bought a table-runner in Aldi last week and have got place cards for us all, just to make the place look a bit more M&S.
I did eye up some napkin rings but it just felt a bit excessive.
I’ve also noticed, and my husband would probably disagree but I think it seems to fall on women more to bear the load of Christmas.
Yes, going up the loft ladder is well out of my remit and Reece’s roast potatoes are absolutely banging whereas mine resemble slightly baked mash. But with regards to filling the cupboard, sorting the presents, remembering the dates for the Christmas performance, sorting the childcare, organising the strange 90’s theme New Years Eve gathering that we’re apparently having – that all seems to fall at my feet.
And I don’t mind, I LOVE Christmas. I love wrapping, can’t think of anything better than settling down to wrap everyone’s present and watch the Christmas special of Gavin and Stacey with a tub of Celebrations.
However, running around the supermarkets trying to find a turkey crown for less than £36 (wtf, M&S), working out when to buy the sprouts so that they won’t all be rank by the 25th, whilst also coaxing our child to write “love, Elliot” in 30 cards for classmates that I’m 85% sure can’t read are definitely the lower points of the season.
I’m sure if he read this, my husband would be shocked and say “of course I’ll help, I’m great at maths so can definitely help you calculate the perfect time to purchase spuds and will always keep an eye on the levels of bread and milk we have so that you don’t need to run to the Co-Op at 8:54pm on Christmas Eve! I’m the best husband in the world of course I will help you.”
BUT there’s something in me that just can’t let go.
I love the control that comes with being the best hostess around. That comes when you sit down at my table to eat perfectly timed sprouts and I’ll won’t have to say “sorry, we’ve got no lemonade” to anyone as I will have gone full end-of-the-world style shopping the weekend before.
I mean, I’ve bought 16 toilet rolls. The shops are closed for One Day. And I’m hoping to not give anyone food poisoning.
I think I’m overthinking it all. It’s one meal. A Sunday roast with crackers, really. It’s nothing to worry about. I really need to not worry.
It’s all fine.
…I can’t stop thinking about the napkin rings.