Don’t get me wrong, I BLOODY LOVE CHRISTMAS, but there are certain seasonal chores necessary for its success that have lost their appeal over time.
I give you:
Making your own mince pies, pudding, gravy, stuffing or bread sauce
Cooking a whole turkey, as opposed to a super-processed crown from the supermarket where the birds are actually trained to make their own stuffing
Leaving fake snowy footprints, wine or carrots in the hallway
The standard of my gift-wrapping, above all, has slipped dramatically over the years – a drop in standards that I believe correlates directly to the fucks I now give in middle age.
In the old days – when I cared – I used to take a massive, misplaced pride in making sure that my wrapping was better than anyone else’s color-themed to the tree with matching ribbons, bows and yes, sometimes even foliage, and I took my time over the process. I saw each gift as a symbol of my creativity and thoughtfulness. I cut the paper straight and carefully with our best scissors, and my joins were seamless. I didn’t buy gifts that couldn’t be wrapped perfectly and I was so proud of what I achieved, I grieved as my family carelessly undid my work on Christmas day, with scant regard for my mental health.
One year I even made cinnamon and fig cookie gift tags with an infusion of mulled wine…had you there!
This year, I bought Target wrapping paper, post office string and one hundred-for-one, stick-on gift tags, in part as a cost-saving exercise and in part because I’ve prioritized my fucks this year. And although the cost-saving element was the old man’s my decision, I have found the transition trickier than I thought. Put it this way – it is difficult not to wash my hands each time I handle the Target paper. It doesn’t smell like David Jones paper, nor does it have its thick, dependable texture. It is thin and creases in the wrong places, and it makes no allowances for sticky tape mistakes, leaving white I’m cheap marks as evidence.
My gifts still look colorful and festive in an I’m poor, fun kind of way, and have still been wrapped with love, but they’ve lost their Mr Bean in Love Actually element of pretentiousness. They look like they’ve traveled the world and run out of money for food halfway around. Their corners are loose and flabby and bits of the gift poke through the cracks where the joints don’t quite meet, or where the cheap paper hasn’t withstood sharp corners – rather like my body in a bikini at the moment, if you can bring yourself to conjure up such an image so close to Christmas lunch. I’m also embarrassed to admit that some of the gifts have been patched because I’ve run out of one paper and done an emergency graft with a mismatched donor paper – and it hasn’t quite taken.
However, the pain will be more bearable this year as I watch Kurt shred his wrapping, and we will have more money to put to a charitable cause, such as wine.