That season again. Christmas is coming, and this year we’re going to get it right – how often have we said that? This year we say we won’t overdo it; we’ll get things going earlier; we won’t overspend; this year I won’t try to do far too much and hardly finish everything and be frantically wrapping things on Christmas Eve while the voices of the better organised boom from the midnight mass across the street. It’s not easy: I have told myself often to keep all the oddments I’ve bought for presents in the same place, but I can’t remember where it is; and then there’s the cooking. The best way of solving the food question is to go and stay with somebody else, though I think this year they’re coming to stay with me.
The main thing to remember is that however good your Christmas is, there always tends to be too much of it – if you’re lucky enough not to find yourself facing it on your own. Ask anyone which was their best Christmas ever and half the time they’ll say it was when they were seven, which doesn’t much help older people who are not kids and not surrounded by them.
But no doubt one of the reasons people tend to forgather with their family is that however childish you may actually be about the festive day you can always attribute it to a wish to please other people. In the most tear-jerking Christmas, the one in Little Women, they gave away their breakfast, and the ending of A Christmas Carol was mainly happy because they’d been starving all week. The one thing that always should be remembered is that for the woman in charge it’s the attempt to blow the balloon too big that results in the limp rag at the end.