Some of the things I’ll have to learn to do again this Christmas

December 8, 2011 at 1:10 pm | Posted in Daily Life | 4 Comments
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We got our tree yesterday and husband has a day off work today to tackle the Christmas shopping. As he wrote a real list on proper lined paper with a pen he found in the drawer, it dawned on me that the festive season is just a matter of weeks away.

I adore everything about Christmas – buying gifts, preparing mountains of food, being with family… Decorating the house is a big deal for us – each year has a theme, this year it’s Alice in Wonderland. If the results don’t look like something from Art Attack I promise to share. Ok it’s a big deal for me, no one else really minds about the theme…

Christmas brings about some much deserved down time. No work, no stress – and with that – no laptop. Potentially no iPhone, no iPad….. The possibility of such isolation may make you shudder with the uncomfortable realisation that you’ve just got to be you – all by yourself, no virtual friends, no online support centre, no helpful advice, gestures of goodwill or pats on the back for daily achievements.

Whether those achievements might be making a cake for school rather than buying it en route, doing all of your Christmas shopping in November or remembering to collect your children from school, it’s nice to know that a number of people commend you for your hard work, even if you have never met them. We all ticked along quite happily before we blogged, tweeted and announced our every waking moment on Facebook, but dare to take those means away now and we feel a little out of the loop.

So without the mechanisms I and many have become so accustomed to using day in, day out, there are several skills that we have to re-learn for the days of December when it is totally unacceptable to ‘just reply to a few emails’ or have your phone at the dinner table. We’ve just spent 11.5 months of the year working our Navaho style long socks off, hand-rearing presentable off-spring and producing the hand made handprint hedgehog (or peacock) birthday cards for the family in between noroviruses and chicken pox, so a break is definitely what the doctor ordered. Time to switch off.

For starters I am concerned about what to do with the gammon. My first port of call would normally be twitter. ‘What can I do with this piece of gammon – got to feed 8 including one fussy eater’. That would usually receive a handful of replies from foody mums with their tried and tested recipes. Instead I shall consult with the book of Delia and my own mother. The book shelf deserves a dusting off anyway.

Once said gammon is seasoned and sliced everyone should be sitting happily around the dinner table and attention will no doubt turn to the year gone by. If someone online wants to know how your career is going, they can just hop over to your website and blog which is probably plastered across your twitter and Facebook page too. Everything you need to know. Also, It’s easy to email friends with quick updates as to how everything is going with that new client who is still paying early, or a quick low down on the new guy in the office, but dinner table talk will require me to brush up on my elevator pitch for those who are still a little confused as to what is is I actually do and why on earth anyone would pay me to teach them how to use twitter. Tips on summarising the social media age in chunks digestible along with dauphinoise potatoes most welcome.

Over Christmas weekend you don’t actually have to leave the house at all which is quite novel – as long as you like your relatives that is. Usually a weekend with no plans would entail a scan of Facebook to see what friends are doing followed by a trawl of a few favourite listing sites. There you have ready made inspiration and are packing people into their parka’s before you can say ‘don’t forget to pack spare pants’. At Christmas you simply stay in the warm and eat another mince pie. Pants for toddler not me I should add, that’s a whole other story.

Hashtags are often my first port of call of a morning to keep up with breaking news – whether it’s #oxfordshire or #uksnow for example. Over Christmas I may pootle to the news agents for a real newspaper and return to eat my Crunchy Nuts whilst watching Day Break. The way we used to have breakfast in ‘the old days’. You never know, I might just keep up with some of these old found traditions come the new year.

I am seriously praying to whoever up above calls the shots, for a sprinkling of health and well being for the whole family this Christmas. The years when flu has come to stay have been distinctly miserable. There have been numerous occasions in the past that I’ve consulted Twitter and the army of mums ready to provide medical advice – at least half a dozen parents are likely to have encountered the symptoms you describe with their own children and can reply with options to guide your next steps – a) Calpol and cuddles, b) doctors tomorrow, c) NHS Direct or d) A&E now. I actually don’t have a book on childhood illnesses – it will have to be a call to mum once more.

Whenever we set off for our family adventure up the M6 to see the relatives, we more often than not consult with a travel report online of one sort or another – ocassionally I’ll check the #M6 on Twitter too. Without thsese tools what do you do? Call the AA control tower? Set off an hour earlier? I shall have to locate the ‘t’ button on the dashboard for radio traffic reports.

Yet there is one tool that you have to allow a festive exemption for – skype has completely changed the way we keep in touch seeing someone’s face as well as hearing their voice when you can’t be with them to celebrate is just brilliant. Depending on time zones, do it before you’ve had too much port, and tipsy uncles away from the screen, unless you can record it too and send it to Harry Hill.

Finally, the biggest bug bear for many at Christmas – assembling the gifts from Santa. There are some devious elves out there I swear; stapling and cable tying lumps of plastic into boxes, cackling to themselves at the prospect of you using the carving knife to try and release the toy from it’s cardboard cage. You need instructions just to get some toys out of their packaging, why don’t they put box removal advice on the back of the packaging?!

Much like Ikea flat pack, assembling some activity toys requires a will of steal and the patience of a saint. Sometimes a skim of YouTube can reveal some handy hints but come Christmas Day the family must come together – wife reading the instruction leaflet having found the English version in amongst the 12 included languages; husband methodically laying out the pieces, toddler stacking them up with no regard for husband’s process, husband giving up, wife taking over and remainder of family looking on in amusement…

Quick get everyone another Baileys and bring out the box of Quality Street. While everyone is searching for the big purple ones, I can sneak a look on Facebook and see what’s trending on Twitter – maybe #queensspeech will be up there this year…



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  1. Fantastic post. I do not think I will comply be without my online friends, but that is as many of them have become real life friends.

    Oh and on a personal note, does the theme thing not get expensive?

    • Maybe there’s a get out clause for online friends who have become real friends! If you send them a real Christmas card in the actual post then you’re allowed to talk to them online over Christmas!
      As for the theme, I spent under £10 on additions to our existing decs for my Wonderland theme – sweetie watches, miniature playing cards, brown labels, snow spray and a few other bits!

  2. Love this post. I hope you have an amazing Christmas. I will be sending real cards to some of my online friends if I ever get around to writing them. x

  3. You need some kind of Tweehab!!!! I just invented that, maybe (if I had time away from my electronic devices) I could start a business with it!!!!!

    Fun read, all too familiar!

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