- Working the bar for the inaugural winter ball - Narnia themed naturally
- Setting up, holding a stall and clearing up after the Christmas fair
- Decorating the hall for the junior school disco.
- Writing all cards for boys' teachers, class mates and random mums I talk to
- Teacher gift from children in Blue Bear's class
Blue Bear birthday jobs:
- Plan and deliver birthday party
- Party Bags, cake, etc.
- Wrap presents and buy cake for the actual birthday
- Thank you cards for all the gifts
- Toys for Met Police Appeal
- Clothes and toys for Salvation Army
- Pet food for animal charities
- Winter clothes for overseas charities
- Trolley of donations for food bank
- Blood donation (it's a busy time of year)
Ok before you say, 'hey hey, what's with the gratuitous virtue signalling there woman ?" I can explain. For me this is a difficult time of year as the enforced jollity really grates on me. I prefer to give gifts, donations and be helpful than to receive anything. I find it a bit embarassing really as I have all I need and being asked what I'd like just sends me into a panic. I end up with daft things like an ice cream maker or a teasmade because no one accepts it when I say, "honestly I don't need anything." Years ago when me and Hubbie hadn't been together that long he asked if I wanted an ipod and I said, "not it's far too much, please don't bother." He bought me one about a year later and I loved it so much I couldn't believe I'd ever said no thanks. He's been asking me for about a year if I want an apple watch and I think it's far too much money to spend so I've said no. Nicely, I'm not rude. I honestly would rather the money was spent on the family or to help others.
I love giving things to other people so that is where my joy comes from. I've taken the boys to breakfast with Father Christmas, we've been to watch festive shows, I've invested in a kickstarter project for something that Hubbie will love (I can't say what it is until he knows - sorry). I bought Neo some new blankets for his beanbag and have treated the boys to new things for holiday - little things like a passport cover for the one who has never flown before and onesies for lounging around the chalet. It's not about big stuff, it's all the little things that make a difference for me. My Dad's birthday is on Christmas Eve so we always visit celebrate with him. It's also a family tradition that I go to my parents for New Year's Day. In the past I've given everyone a calendar and some chocolates to see in the New Year.
The pressure for everything to be perfect at Christmas is overwhelming. I have struggled for years with managing my expectations and now try to keep things as simple as possible. Thankfully Hubbie understands that I set myself impossible standards and he reminds me how much has gone right rather than allowing me to sink under the weight of my own disappointment. Giving enables me to take focus off myself and to see joy reflected in others. I make time to see people I love and to remind others that they are in my thoughts if not in close proximity.
For those of us who aren't naturally Christmas people this is a difficult line to tread. Not wanting to be seen as a grinch, but feeling that overeating and overspending is not necessary.
This is how I've made it work for me. The reality is - though - that I am still struggling. I feel really anxious most days and I am permanently worried that I've forgotten something really important.
If it's not on the list it can't be important can it ?