Surviving Christmas

minionIt seems as if everyone I speak to has something about family/extended family and Christmas this year that is causing them stress or pain.

If this is the case for you, I am popping in to tell you: you are NOT alone. Most families have at least one asshole, even though that asshole might even be you. There is probably no such thing as a completely harmonious Christmas. Why? Because family. It is the one day of the year you may be forced to spend with people you are related to (either by blood or marriage), but might not actually like. We are all trying to survive the Potential Political Minefield of food, duties, gifts and company.

It’s the one time of year we tend revisit old resentments and often family arguments erupt over long-forgotten slights.

Here is what I have learnt:

Stop trying to impress people, they’re so wrapped up in their own shit they really don’t care (this was a very painful lesson for me)

Don’t expect anyone to thank you for anything (enough said)

Don’t over-commit on duties (it is probably the first year as an adult I’m really going to achieve this, will let you know how it goes..)

If someone doesn’t do/bring/make what they said they would, nod and smile and top up your wine.

Immediate family (i.e.husband/partner and/or children) FIRST. Always. If you’re spending 3 days cooking and cleaning you didn’t *actually* spend Christmas with the most important people.(yup, another lesson I had to learn the hard way)

If someone doesn’t like what you gave them: whatever. Smile and hand over the slip so they can go and exchange it. Then top up your wine again.

If someone doesn’t make an effort IGNORE them. They’re probably not worth the mental energy you waste on them anyway. Rather go and hug a child.

If none of the above helps, at least back away from the cutlery, you don’t want to be stabbing anyone with a fork on Christmas day. Then sit back and watch the day unfold, you might be amazed by what you see.

Lastly: for friends who are not spending Christmas with their children, suffered loss this year or are spending this time under extraordinarily stressful conditions: I hold you in my heart. I know how hard the day will be for you, but I promise you that it will get better, either through a change in circumstance or through acceptance. Failing that: just smile and wave.

And DON’T, for the love of Christmas, be an asshole.

Let’s be Festive

People that are in the service industry hate Christmas. There. I said it.

Why do they hate Christmas? Because customers are assholes.

I say this with confidence as, when young(er), I had the dubious privilege of working in the hospitality industry. For 8 Christmases. And 8 New Years’.

It is hell. For many (many!!) hours a day you listen to the same music on repeat. Long days on your feet that are stretched longer because, inevitably, someone doesn’t arrive for work. People are miserable (and that’s just the customers).

I have been watching people in malls* this past week and just shake my head. The amount of women that have aggressively pushed other trolleys/people out of their way, often accompanied by some choice words, astounds me. Couples with children that grumble and bitch at each other and their kids. Little wars in parking lots. People that drive like assholes. Moaning on Social Media.Oh, the moaning on Social Media!

It’s really very unnecessary. Could everyone please just calm the fuck down? Think before you lose your temper WITH ANYONE. Don’t take your kids to the shops unless you absolutely, absolutely have to. It’s really just not worth the anger or accompanying exhaustion.

When you address a brand in Social Media to complain CHECK before you hit the send button and look like a doos. (Yup, still my favourite word)

People that are providing a service to you are not your punching bags, they often work for very little money just to have to suck up your crap.

Try smiling at that cashier/packer/waitress/petrol attendant and ask them how they are doing, you will be amazed at their response. It gives me great satisfaction to see their faces light up when I ask them how they are holding up. Be a human and think about the next person. Go on, try it.

Isn’t that, after all, what Christmas is all about? Where is all the friggin joy?

Failing that, try watching this as a reminder. (It was shared in my FB stream by someone yesterday, but I can’t find who, so apologies for not crediting. If it was you, thank you, it’s all kinds of awesome.)

* I spent very little time in malls this Christmas by the way. Online shopping FTW.

PS. I’m blogging in the middle of the day at work because my computer is borked

PPS. One more sleep before I’m on holiday. (well, after all the Christmas prep, the Big Eat, followe by The Big Clean)

PPPS. Our gifts are ALL wrapped. We win at Christmas.

Let’s talk about Christmas

Ok. I will eventually, but first, let me say: Fokkies. People. It’s almost Christmas. I know it’s the end of the year when dragging my backside through the last month and seeing the days whizzzz by fill me with equal amounts of dread and glee. To-do lists seem to get longer and longer, projects *have* to be wrapped up by the end of November.

I also know it’s the end of the year when I no longer have any filters and some of the things that come out of my mouth make me cringe. My Boss calls it ‘Interpersonal Sensitivity’. I call it ‘Too tired to put up with crap’.

Tonight I realised that I’m doing the same as every year: buying too many little stocking filler gifts for the kids and contemplating the utter futility of buying expensive toys.

Toys that they will play with for about 20 seconds before they are discarded in favour of the disposable arty kakkies that are the stocking fillers. (Unless they are the 2 microphones and a guitar the kids got from my folks a few years ago. The less said about that the better. They are like a bad rash)

Toys we spent time agonizing about, not only because there are 3 children and it adds up WAY too quickly, but also because we would hate to ruin Father Christmas’s reputation of buying the perfect gift.
I really do wonder what the point is of buying toys. Our lot are quite content to play silly games with each other and, really, they (mostly) hold no educational value. But then it wouldn’t be a toy, now would it?

What are you buying your kids for Christmas? Do you agree that buying toys are more often a monumental waste of hard-earned money than anything else?

Martha se moer

This post is dedicated to all my friends that have called me Martha (Stewart) over the last few years.

Normally by this time every year there are home-made advent calendars that inevitably don’t end well and Christmas gifts are mostly bought or already being made with love.

Usually, by this time, I have already planned the Christmas feast and have been testing recipes like mad.

This year there is none of that.

This crazy (in a good way) year I remembered about advent calendars at 4:30PM (!!) on the 1st of December and I rushed off to Woollies, only to find them all sold out. This was remedied by rescuing long-forgotten old little advent boxes that Etienne stuffed with little things I managed to find at Pick and Pay in the 5 minutes before they closed.

This year I haven’t made a thing for Christmas gifts, thought about making anything or even had more than a passing, slightly hysterical, thought of what to buy people for Christmas, except for hastily crocheting edges around pillow covers for teacher’s gifts.

Today we had store-bought apple pie (don’t die laughing, to know me is to love me) for dessert with a hastily thrown together family lunch.

This year the days are rushing by with a resounding WHOOOOOOSH and I am just hanging on for dear life.

This year I’m completely over it.

Martha se Moer, this Mom would rather spend her precious time snuggling with children and a very neglected husband. The rest will sort itself out.

Christmas 2012

Here we are, sitting on the stoep of our rented house in Shelley Point, each with our electronic reading devices. In silence, like old people.

I refuse to apologise, the silence is too precious.

We can hear the waves crashing and our children are strewn across our bed, comatose after 3 days of sun, sand, sea, presents and 24/7 attention.

Over the last few days my thoughts have wandered to how our summer holidays have changed since the children. Our first summer foray away with Daniel to Betty’s Bay was a catastrophe. Terrible weather, couldn’t leave the house for 8 days, I vowed never again.

The next summer I was pregnant with the girls. I spent that holiday floating in a pool. But only just.

Then there was the trip to Arniston with a pram, camp cots, bottles, nappies, dummies and the whole bang shoot. Not to mention a toddler and 2 crawling babies.

Then there was Stilbay. Better only because there were fewer bottles, no camp cots, helping hands and the river. They loved that river, we will definitely go there again.

Then we stayed home and had ourselves a biggass family Christmas at our house. Not a year I remember fondly.

Last year we were also home, but things were looking up.

This year has by far been the best holiday year with the kids. No prams, no nappies. They dress and feed themselves. They wipe their own bums. Those are huge things for a household with 3 kids, trust me.

They chat, they draw, they play with each other. They love to be with us, they are surprisingly helpful, especially Mignon. Daniel is getting some much needed alone time with his Daddy catching fish and us girls go for walks on the beach in the mornings. Isabel is just, well, Isabel, my bright and happy gal. My parents and sister came up for a lovely visit and stayed for Christmas.

I guess I’m feeling a little nostalgic. I’m thinking of the Christmases of my youth. Kimberley in December with my Dad’s parents, long since passed away. My cousins. More Christmas on a farm in Campbell with my other Grandparents, also long gone, with more cousins.

I wonder, what memories are we giving our children? Will they look back fondly at the Christmases of their youth one day? Are we doing enough to make these holidays special so that they sustain them until the next time we can stand still.

As a family.

And exhale.