Leading up to Christmas

Ah, it’s that time of year.  Yes, it’s December, it’s the month where the temperature drops, really drops.  It’s the month which entertains Christmas and the annual emptying of the bank account.

Years ago, I used to buy for everyone and theirs.  Even their pets.  Then I realised that this was costing an extraordinary amount of money.  For what? So, at that time, my friends and I decided not to do Christmas presents for the adults, just birthday presents.  That worked out better for the old bank balance.

I try, every year, to start shopping at a sensible time, it never happens.  Not a chance.  There are people, I have heard, who have all their Christmas shopping done by June.  Who are these people? I mean, show yourself.  Who are you?

Part of the problem is that my birthday is at the end of November every year, so, up until then I’m not the least bit Christmassy.  Once my annual birthday is out the way then it can begin.  Really just as well I wasn’t born on December 24th.

I never have any idea what to get people, so I’ll think about it for a while, then I decide on gift vouchers.  Perfect.  Then people can choose what they want.  Aha! I’ve cracked it.  Then I start to think that it means handing out envelopes, there’s no disguising what they are, there’s no surprise.  Plus, my dad loves opening parcels on Christmas Day.  You could wrap fourteen oranges separately and he’d be over the moon just opening them.  I have to go and buy things.  Things that will need wrapped.

This is a task in itself. Gift bags are an option, again, dad who likes to unwrap things.  The entire family are terrible at wrapping presents.  There is an ongoing joke that you could never guess what my dad has bought just from looking at the wrapped present.  He just mashes the paper around the present, sellotapes it in a few places and done! I have learned from him.  If you can’t guess what the present is, then this makes it all bigger a surprise.  Winner, winner, turkey dinner!

Also, the more wine consumed while wrapping, the worse the wrapping gets.  Let’s be brutally honest here, wine is required with wrapping presents.  It can never be managed without a drop of wine.  It gets you through it.  You know, when you can’t find the start of the sellotape, when you eventually do and it splits, then folds up into itself.  Then you cut a few bits off and attach them to coffee table (I don’t drink coffee, I drink tea, why do I have to call it a coffee table?) for quickness when wrapping but, when you go to get them they’ve fully attached themselves to the table.  Some dark evil has fully attached the sellotape to the table.  This is not funny.  Not only does it mean cutting more strips, it means trying to unpeel the bits that are firmly stuck to the table.  I’m not having it.

Then there’s the decorating.  I live on my own.  Who am I decorating for but myself? Still, I do it.  When I moved into this upper villa, my dad bought me a Christmas tree.  A fiber-optic one, thankfully because I do not do Christmas lights well.  One bulb is out? Then that bloody one bulb will remain out, even if it ends up knocking out ten other bulbs.  No, fiber-optic is the way forward.

The tree is easy to assemble.  Just arrange the branches, plug the old thing in and…tada! It’s winking away in many different colours with a Santa on top that’s not for the top of a tree so he looks a little bit uncomfortable.

I don’t have many decorations but, they almost kill me.  I’ve got this fake plant thing that goes in the window.  It lights up if you switch it on, last year the batteries weren’t working and I didn’t change them.  So, it just sat on the windowsill not lighting up at night and looking miserable throughout the day.  This year I decided to change the batteries.  Having never been inside the battery compartment before, I had no idea how many batteries it took, never mind what size.

The battery compartment has a small screw in it.  Tiny.  I raked through the kitchen drawer, you know that one that everyone has that is home to so many things.  Fuses, batteries, toilet cistern blue things, cable ties of various sizes, a hammer, instructions to electronic things that are no longer of use, spare blades to a junior hacksaw that I can’t find (might have left it outside and it’s now in the hands of a murderous squirrel), random screws and nails and, of course, screwdrivers.

This is actually a good time to own one of those little screwdriver kits that come out of Christmas crackers.  However, since it’s a couple of weeks away before they’ll be getting sprung, it’s down to the dainty screwdriver head that doesn’t fit properly into the handle.  Three weeks of unscrewing gets the tiny screw out and into the battery compartment we go.

Three double A batteries.  Who designs these things? I’ve a pack of four AA’s.  I remove the used batteries, replace them and now I have a random AA battery.  What am I supposed to do with it? Everything else takes two.  It’s battery insanity.  I’ll have to mix it with another brand and they won’t like that.  They send out warnings these days – do not mix batteries.  I’ll mix them if I want.  I’ll continue with that protest until designers of novelty Christmas decorations either use two batteries, or, and I would accept this, four.  Just not three.  It’s wrong.

The plant thing is now on my windowsill, lights aglow.  I’ll have to go out and check that it’s central in the window though.  I was across the road the other day and I noticed that the flowers I had there were off centre.  It ruined my afternoon.

After all that comes the tinsel.  This has been the hardest part so far.  Stupid, stupid tinsel.  I have this Easter Road street sign above my kitchen door and I like to put a bit of tinsel around it.  I got out my step ladder.

The step ladder is amazing.  I bought it on a crazy shopping trip with friends.  We were literally doing the cheap stores.  B&M’s where they had emptied the shelves of 10p grass seed (bloody looks marvelous), I, with toddler in tow, had lost a wheel of the shopping trolley somewhere in the store and didn’t even realise.  Continuing on, we’d gone to a now defunct pound shop.  The step ladder was twenty quid.  At first I wasn’t going to buy it.  For one thing, three women and a toddler in a car was already full of all our other purchases.  I deliberated.  I had to have it.  I got back out the car and ran inside, bought it and back outside again, we negotiated it into the car.  The only person who needed to have all limbs free was the driver, so we sorted that and off we went.

Anyway, I thought the best way to attach the tinsel to the wall around said street sign would be the humble thumb tack.  Nope.  Up above my kitchen door there appears to be actual concrete.  The sign is nailed on but, I had done that without thinking about it.  Try pushing a thumb tack in and risk breaking your thumb.  I got the hammer out.  The concrete was not for budging.  I don’t even know where the tack is.  I don’t know if it bounced, or dropped or is still attached to the tinsel, it just disappeared.

This is also the time of year that Blu-Tak goes AWOL.  It’s sat in the top drawer of my desk all year, yet now I can’t find it.  I’ve searched the upper villa.  Maybe I’ve loaned it to someone? All I know is I can’t find it.

On to the last thing I’d ever want to use.  Sellotape.  It’s not in the drawer either.  The double sided sticky tape it though, well, that will have to do.  Except, it doesn’t.  It’s went weak and won’t hold the bloody tinsel up.

By this time the sweat is glowing off me.  The swear words are drowning out the Christmas songs which, quite frankly, ARE NOT helping.  I’ve had to take my jumper off because I am too hot and raging.  Then I open the desk drawer to put the useless double sided nonsense back in and what’s looking at me? Sellotape.  Oh, hello, are you back from your journey?

Thankfully, oh thankfully, sellotape is on my side.  I fold it into itself and stick it to the wall.  I attach tinsel and it stays.  It ACTUALLY stays.  I almost shed a tear, I was so happy.  Then I did the same at the other side of the sign.  I attached the next bit of the tinsel.  Oh my, it’s stayed.  It’s a Christmas miracle.

That’s when I had to stop though.  I’d been at this whole thing for hours.  It was nearly nine in the evening and I hadn’t eaten my tea yet.  I had no idea what I was having for my tea either.  That’s another blog though.

The run up to Christmas has begun.  I have to finish my decorating as soon as.  That way it’s out the road.  Then it’s only a couple of weeks before I get to take it all down again.  Woohoo.

One last thing.  It’s not “Happy Holidays”.  It’s Merry Christmas.