My first draft of this blog post was turning into a right roar of a rant. The more I typed the more agitated I became.
Halloween was fun, dark and suitably spooky. Millions of children (and their parents) have bounced back to normal after spectacular sugar rushes that would have made Jamie Oliver turn pale, and recovered from the painful removal, too late at night, of enthusiastically and liberally applied face paints.
These facts and figures made me cross, but I’m not surprised at them. I (and my kids) have spent years, and too much money, accumulating tat at every seasonal opportunity. Halloween was so easy this year – take your pick of blood-stained swords, stinky rubbery masks, slimy eyeballs, and witch's hats - I have so many of those I was able to offer Angelique a spare (either I have too much tat or I’m a real witch who needs surplus head attire – or both....).
Now it’s November. Which means Christmas, right?
I have to admit that Cynical Sue had to eat her own words on Monday. Driving through our local town, I was smugly expecting to see Halloween chased away by Christmas in every shop window, thereby justifying my rant of a blog post. But no. The High Street's Halloween cobwebs were starting to look genuine, its pumpkins a little pooped, with their orange less bright. Halloween was hanging on. How refreshing!
Of course, the big money-making megastores are already making their Christmas presence felt. And the adverts may have started, but I’m ignoring them. Although I couldn’t ignore these giant, glittering (albeit unlit) Christmas lights in London today – on 4th November I tell you!
But here’s what I told my Cynical Sue self – stop being so annoyed. There's no need to rant. You can choose whether or not to jump on that Christmas Conveyor Belt. Be brave and opt out!
So here are my optional 5 tips to encourage a panic-free, calm and simpler approach to Noel. (Warning: No. 5 is a definite no-go if you’ve chanced upon this blog for a light read).
1. It’s November. A month in its own right. Savour late Autumn's fiery colours. They are bright and blazing in the now weaker, watery sun. Feel the hot glow of the flames at Bonfire Night. Then in December’s truly deep darkness, linger as you light the first candles, and enjoy the Christmas bling.
So here's my response….
Yes, it’s our choice we had four kids. But we don’t need to be hard on ourselves, stretching ourselves so thinly that we snap. Attendance at every event is not obligatory. Of course, you run the risk of offending the child whose Fair or play or carol service you choose not to attend. Although that risk is nullified if the child is not so fond of his/her school! In which case, should you attend his/her events over the others to foster a feeling of fondness? Should we do a festive rota, alternating schools every year? Who, when, why, what?! No. Stop – see how easy it is to dip your toe into that angst-ridden spiral of guilt and over-analysis. Just do what you can. I intend to. It’ll all be forgotten come Christmas Day (I might be reminded of it years later by one of my kids whose starring role I've missed…but I will deal with the self-reproach then).
5. I watched a video (link below) with my husband and No. 1 son. My husband is not sure that it has a place in this blog. My son argues that it does. I’m including it not because I listen to my eldest child more than my husband (well, sometimes I do), but because gaining perspective is not a bad thing. And it doesn’t matter whether that perspective comes from an article or video like this, or from other issues that touch your heart. For me, it comes from this. I shed a tear during the interactive video. It isn’t for the faint-hearted.
Time to sign off now. I hope I haven't ranted, but despite my efforts not to, I'm guessing I stand a pretty good chance of being cast as a female Scrooge in next year’s school panto. Or Cynical Sue (no idea why I thought up Sue, but I apologise to all the very lovely uncynical Sues amongst you). However, I trust that Mrs Cope (panto producer, director, scriptwriter extraordinaire) will recognise that my acting skills are about as brilliant as my ability to cheer you all up in time for Christmas. Bah, Humbug!
Oh, before I go, a question: Who was right - my husband or my No. 1 son?