It’s been a while since I’ve written. Christmas seemed too big and unwieldy a topic, and, anyway, I was too busy getting ready for it to write. However, an item on BBC Woman’s Hour about the ’emotional work’ women do – caring for someone ill, managing family life – especially at Christmas, making sure cards are written, food is bought in etc., stayed on my mind. My mother loved Christmas, but ran herself ragged with shopping, wrapping, baking, cooking and festooning the house with fairy lights. On the day itself, she never sat down, constantly checking on the food, catering for a growing extended family, often ending up with a nosebleed.
I think I have inherited some of her traits, along with two sets of her fairy lights, and used to find family Christmases quite stressful, wanting to get everything right. The years when the children were young were quite magical in their own way, and yet that emotional work did take its toll. In my teaching days, breaking up at the end of term usually coincided with a cold! This year, with both of us retired, shopping – for presents, the tree, food – was quite leisurely and the responsibility for making it a happy time shared. Visits to relatives and friends were planned well ahead, with a couple of nights in a budget hotel making the travelling easier. I felt really calm, reflecting on my previous tendency to set myself unrealistic deadlines e.g. making all our cards, knitting or sewing projects started too late………..Putting decorations away, holding our fairy doll (made by me forty years ago), I suddenly remembered being eight and out in the dark wearing my ballet dress with tinsel wings and a crown. I was to be Santa’s Fairy at a party for under fives. Dim lights and jingle bells set the scene and the children seemed happy to accept me (feeling I really had been endowed with some of Santa’s magic) and the parcels I gave out. That was definitely a satisfying piece of emotional work.
I also remember the let-down when the festivities were over. Aged three, I sobbed inconsolably when I realised that it would be a whole YEAR until Christmas came again. I remember the flatness of those first January days, writing the same resolutions in my diary
I always intended to have a fashion/beauty element in this blog, and I have a good product to share this time. I had fun on holiday painting my nails with this great varnish (my husband is just too good at sourcing presents!) I do not have nice nails, but this Ciaté polish in Starlet, an amazing blue/green/purple, goes on smoothly and sort of fades at the edges rather than chipping. I have a lot of reject nail polish bottles which disappointed from the start, some cheap, others expensive. Price doesn’t guarantee quality. Ciaté products are around £9.00 but they have offers.
Two of my heroes died this week, David Bowie and Alan Rickman, both such brilliant, seemingly ageless artists. It is a memento mori when near-contemporaries go, hard to accept that they are just not there any more.
Time to get on with living life to the full, not assuming that there will always be next week, next month, next year.