The Big Festive Deadline

Posted on Tuesday 16th December 2008 at 00:00
It's 24th December 2003 and my 15 year old self has just arrived home from a 12 hour shift at Waitrose. I enter the lounge to discover the family tree is up but not decorated, the ceiling decorations are nowhere to be seen andmy family are rushing around like maniacs trying to get the house clean before Christmas Day. I'm left to decorate the tree by myself, whilst the ceiling decorations lie forgotten in a box somewhere. By the time I'm finished it is bed time and I am tired and cross and finding myself pretty short of Christmas cheer.

Back when I was a kid, Christmas was the biggest deal of the whole year. I'd have my list written in November and would be unable to sleep by mid December due to the excitement building up in me ahead of the big day. That all changed that year, when I discovered for the first time the harsh reality of Christmas for adults. It's a lot of work for a very short day of relaxation and happiness.

Subsequent years have proved almost as bad, with long working or uni hours and ever more preparation to get through before the 25th. Last year was my first Christmas in my New Flat, and with it my first tree, decorations and everything else. To this day I still feel a slight pain in my fingers when I recall tying lengths of thread to several dozen new baubles over the course of about 4 hours one evening. As for presents, I finally fell into that worst category of men, the Christmas Eve panic shopper!

This year things are different. I now have a girlfriend, L, and like all girlfriends her mission in life is to organise me (with my whole hearted support, naturally). We spent an entire weekend buying and wrapping presents a couple of weeks ago and I now have nothing left to buy for anyone this year, apart from L herself, who has come in under budget, but I'm working on that.

When I returned from Plymouth on Sunday night I considered going to bed, but, in the spirit of organisation I stayed up til half 1 in the morning hanging ceiling decorations. It reminded me why my parents have always been less than enthusiastic for this task, as I'm finally reaching the point in my life (aged 22) where climbing on furniture to stick drawing pins into the ceiling just doesn't hold the same appeal as it once did.

The tree, also, is planned, even if not yet bought. For the last few weeks I've been working extended shifts at work, which have seen me not getting home until around half past 8 every night. This ends tomorrow (Thank God) and I'll be leaving work at 3pm on Thursday, driving to B&Q and crying over the cost of Norwegian Spruces. The idea is that by the time I drive L back to Bristol for the holidays on Saturday, the tree will be standing, covered in working lights and ready for us to decorate together, just to prove that we are a real couple who do couply things together.

Tonight I think I'll write the dreaded Christmas cards, of which I have 3 large boxes, having bought new ones without checking to see if I had any left for at least 2 years in a row, as I discovered the other day. Wrapping paper will also not be a problem, as it seems to my (not entirely scientific) estimates that I should have enough to wrap a double decker bus, should the need arise.

My point, besides possibly irritating all those less organised people with my gloating, is that for the first time in years, when Christmas finally arrives I shall be ready, happy and enthusiastic about the day. I'd begun to think that Christmas was just a colossal waste of time and energy, but a little festive planning has left me as excited as a child all over again. And no, I won't be working a 12 hour shift on Christmas Eve this year. I've elected to finish on the 22nd, so as to enjoy the holidays that bit more, with no more stress and planning to be carried out by The Big Festive Deadline.

Happy December Everyone!

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