I think I could write a pretty good Christmas survival guide based on this year’s experience. It’s really all about diversion and avoiding the ridiculously long build up that induces all the stress and panic. So here’s what to do.
Buy a new house (or mobile park home) and move in on December 12th. Make sure your new home requires a modicum of structural work, taking down an internal wall or two and rebuilding them will do, along with plenty of decorating and some serious cleaning. Now move all your personal belongings and furniture into all the wrong rooms before any of the work has even been started. It helps to lose your job a couple of weeks prior to this operation in order to release maximum time for the project whilst your partner continues to work part-time increasing space to work in on the days she is out. Once the house has reached a state of maximum chaos take a three hour break and go and do all the Christmas present and food shopping and maybe write a few Christmas cards while you are at it.
All of a sudden it’s Christmas eve. After washing out the last paint roller it only remains to cram all the tools, decorating materials, bits of wood and three bicycles into the shed, making a mental note to sort it out in the New Year, force the door closed and your done. Switch on Radio Four in time for the first carol from Kings, open a beer and hey presto, it’s Christmas. No build up, no stress, no second ‘big food shops’, no last-minute present buying and you don’t have to worry about who you haven’t sent cards too because most of your friends and family have sent theirs to the old address.
Christmas day passed by in a lovely haze of roast duck and new emulsion odours and there was no need for parlour games because we were endlessly entertained by trying to find basic things like the cork screw or the posh wine glasses that we always use for Christmas dinner.
I wouldn’t necessarily recommend it every year but once in a while it makes a pleasant diversion.