The December Ambush

You know, some months are just a little too much, and December is that month for me. End of the school year, exams, graduations, ballet concerts, plus Christmas concerts, carol services and the rest of Christmas, the trappings! The trimmings! That may possibly be a paraphrase of The Grinch, or I may be making it up. The Man is away, The Boy gone of course, which means it is girls' night in, every night, except when it is girls' night out, for ballet rehearsals, choir practice etc.

Because it is the end of the school year, exams are over, there is no homework, and it is very tempting to slump on the couch in front of the telly every night. I have attempted to circumvent this reprehensible sloth by instigating epic Upwords battles, played over days, before and after school. We got out the hammock, and in the brief three days of warm weather last week, the girls were to be seen gently rocking with a book, only feet visible over the edge. Then they discovered what a marvellous swing it made, and started playing games with names like, 'who can swing high enough to kick a cherry plum?', and then, 'who can swing high enough to pluck a cherry plum with their teeth?' at which point the hammock and the tree had had enough, and down they all came, hammock and all. I have promised to buy some new rope. Eventually.

I must admit to being in a bit of a slump. We made the Christmas cake a couple of weeks ago, doused it in brandy for days, but it is still sitting on the kitchen bench in its tin, under a tea towel. I am wondering if there is any actual point in wrapping it up, this close to Christmas. Maybe it could just stay on the bench? I was making fried rice for Posy's school lunch the other morning at eight o'clock, which is really way to early for cooking, and I dropped the bottle of fish sauce, which started leaking. I put it on its side on the bench, and it is still there, waiting for an efficient person to come along and decant it into something else. There are no efficient persons noticeably rushing to do this.

I have decided that delegation will be my new 'thing'. I have appointed Rosy Captain of Fruit. She goes to a school where there are Captains for everything. Not only School Captains and House Captains, but Captains of all the sports, Hockey, Rowing, Cricket... Badminton for all I know. There is an Art Captain, and possibly even a Chess Captain. Rosy can hone her future leadership skills by keeping an eagle eye on all the fruit over the summer, making sure that slightly squishy pears and dodgy bananas get used up. She will be extra good at this because she creates giant salads and fruit salads for herself on a regular basis, and gets very cross when we run out of key ingredients. She is also now in charge of the fruit and veg shopping list. She has also been heard enquiring if she will get more pocket money if she cooks three meals a week over the summer? I am thinking we could come to some arrangement.

Last week when the hammock was still intact and Posy and I were swinging on it before school she said, 'What is as gentle as a butterfly and can make the whole world disappear?'
The answer, of course, is your eyelids.

 I will be going to make the world disappear now.

Please do tell me about your December. Are you swanning through it gracefully, or are you hitting that December wall along with me? If the former, please share secrets, or maybe pop over and help me with the fish sauce?


My December is going okay. We won't decorate for Christmas until next weekend, and I have all of my out-of-town gifts in hand and will mail them Monday, so I'm not feeling too stressed out. Have relieved myself of the need to get the house totally cleaned before Christmas. My pantry is straightened as is my lazy susan cabinet and that's enough. Right now I'm sitting in front of my SAD lamp so that the winter gloominess will not get to me. All is well.

Heather said…
Throughout the year I always think of December as a great time and have warm fuzzy feelings about Christmastime. Then it seems as if every December is so busy and I never have the Christmas of my "dreams." It is a bit disappointing, I have to admit. I'm going to try, though. I like your captain idea. I may have to do that myself.
Anonymous said…
December is like a brick wall to me. I am going along minding my own business, feeling that I can almost touch the holidays. And then wham! Too much to bloody well do before Christmas. Work is manic, house a mess, no presents bought.

We are hosting family for Christmas. When asked by mother-in-law what she could bring, I replied, "Low expectations."

Love the Captain idea. My kids would delineate the honorific, though. As to fish sauce...there is use crying over it. It's quite pungent.

How's the gym and gym buddy going? Too busy to plank?
Anonymous said…
Why would the iPad change decline to delineate? And why do I only notice the spelling errors after pressing publish?
Tammy said…
This is the craziest time of year at my work. We are a start up and have to get all the last minute sales we possibly can out the door by midnight the 31st. At least I'll have a couple days off for the holidays, but not much more than that.

The whole thought of buying gifts and being festive is overwhelming to me now.
Captain Jo - don't feel that your ship is sinking. By this time next week all will be under control. The fish sauce will be cleared away and the cake will be wrapped and ready to go Christmas Day. Ahmm so what was the problem again? oh yes Christmas panic. We don't do that here. Very laid back this year again - going to an family get together dinner out tonight at nice beachside dining. Relaxing way of catch up with a few wayward rellies pre-Christmas. Presents are at a minimum too - as we all have too much STUFF. I bought a plum pud last year in a tin which is still good, I dragged that out and doused it in rum. Decorations go up today. That's about it - a few rellies descend on the Day and we sit around eating well into Boxing Day. All good. Take a big breath and get back into the hammock! cheers Wendy
Sadly, I'm that annoying individual who seems to have it all together - well I have no kids! And I only worked 3 days this week, rather than 5, which has helped the mental health remarkably (one day was for Christmas shopping, the other for lazing, Christmas card writing, and eating the gingerbread dough that is for house building today... hope there's enough).

I have no ballet concerts, thankfully. I think give your daughter whatever extortionate pocket money she wants and raise her to 4 nights a week, and contract the others to washing and cleaning up. Make the most of these slaves (cough cough, children), as you know too well, they'll be gone soon enough!
Bek said…
Are we in December already?? I have some catching up to do! December always goes way too fast for me, with xmas present making (must get onto homemade bitters for the hampers this weekend), end of year parties and must-catch-up-before-christmas get togethers, workplace hectiness and just trying to hold things together at home. Also the garden tends to take off and I just try and not let it get too far ahead of me.

I would be useless in your fish sauce situation. I have cleaned out jars waiting to go into the preserving cupboard that have been on the kitchen bench for weeks. Do you think I could walk them into the next room and actually put them away. Apparently that task is beyond me presently. Maybe one day...
Jo said…
Frances, I like your plan to not clean the house for Christmas. I could get on board with that one..
Stay happy! At least I have sunshine between rain showers here..
Heather, I theoretically love Christmas too. The Christmases of my childhood, that is, that didn't involve any responsibility on my part for food, presents or cleaning!
Lucinda, adore the thought of asking for low expectations for Christmas. Will do same:)
Ha ha, spent some time trying to work out what 'delineate the honorific' might mean before I saw your next comment. It sounds so incredibly brainy a phrase. I'm wondering how I might work it into conversation..
Up to 60 secs planking now. Unfortunately doesn't seem to be affecting state of my waist at all. I think I can only do them longer because of all the arm work my evil gym buddy is making me do.
Tammy, so sad crazy workload! Hard to be festive when crazy stressed. All the best.
Wendy, please come and live with me and sort out my life! You too Sarah. I need some good level-headed calmness around here. Actually, although we are hosting Christmas dinner for several families, and always do, it is all very relaxed. It's just everything happening before Christmas that's sending me a bit insane..
Bek, ha yes, December just creeps up, doesn't it?
And the garden, screaming for attention. It is just the wrong time of year to fit the summer garden in..
I'm glad there is someone else who can't manage to get from one room to another some days:)

Beznarf27 said…
When cats put their ears back and wave their tale is pretty much an approximation of me in December. I must be picking stress up from the air because I really don't have a reason to feel twitchy. This Christmas eve has been delegated and designated to be the communal Christmas family "Do" where we will all turn up at my daughters house and "Do" Christmas...leaving Christmas Day to be celebrated individually as and how we see fit. A good thing because we all have VERY different ideas about just how Christmas should be celebrated.

I haven't even thought about putting up our Christmas tree! You made cake? You get 100 karma points. I didn't even contemplate it. This year has careened past me and December finds me kicking my heels and protesting too much methinketh. There isn't enough time to do much and even though I am on top of the gift giving thing (not hard when you have adult children), the rest of it is "meh". No idea why this year feels so much more rushed and out of control than the others but it does and I am being stubborn.

We in the south have Christmas plonked down in the middle of our most busy and productive time. In the north they have wound down, they are at the "sit by the fire and read a book while it snows and is VERY cold outside" and they just don't get that we have gardens and weeds and sunshine and beaches and hammocks all awaiting and beckoning us from lofty heights and Christmas is just so much bother.

I found a wall tree out of driftwood on Pinterest the other day...I might make a wall tree this year and I might deck the hall with something...but then again I might not. It's good to know that I am not the only one with things half done...more heels being dug in as the Christmas tidal surge tries to overtake me and drag me along in its wake.

I fear the Grinch was just a much maligned non-consumerist hell bent on stopping that tide...seems he only became "good" when he gave in and wheeled out the presents ;).
Jo said…
Oh, the garden Fran, it makes me weep! I must get out there today between social engagements and the school carol service..
I think the Grinch story could have usefully stopped right at the point where those Whos down in Whoville are singing their hearts out because the Grinch didn't manage to steal Christmas after all, only the trappings..
Jen's Busy Days said…
We got the pressies done easily this year. One large electronic present for all, one Lego from last year, small item each greatly reduced at Officeworks and done!

I have spread out the food treats over the whole month so baking and making isn't hard. A few dozen biscuits to make for school, friends and neighbours but that is fun! With Christmas Day not overloaded I am feeling fairly relaxed. O:-)

Will the menfolk be back for the big day?

Best wishes
Jen in NSW
grateful for boys therefore no ballet or theatre
Linda said…
I'm having a Catch up day today. Not going to Church so I can free up the day. Struck down with the horrid Norovirus last Sunday evening so half the week in bed and feeling tired out for the next couple of days. Result is I am behind with everything. Today I have to wrap the rest of presents I have already bought and make a list of ones still to be bought. Write all the cards and make a list of people we send ecards to then that job can be delegated to my DH. Tidy the messy corner in my bedroom where magazines and books and newspaper cuttings are festering! Make a list for packing for 3 months in NZ. Leaving 1st January. Help!
i love lucindasans' "low expectations' :-)
by the time december rolls around, i am exhausted by the working year and just want it all to be over. we don't do xmas in a big way chez dig in, which is just as well. we're all adults now, no small children, so xmas is just a quiet family get together. with good food and plenty of champagne :-) i'm making tiramisu this year, for the first time ever (i have convinced myself it will be easy)! i shall get excited about that, but otherwise, even though i have no children and therefore no school exams and ballet performances, i understand - share - your lethargy, Jo.
Jo said…
Jen, well done on the presents front! Yes, all men of the family back the week before Christmas. Looking forward to that.
Linda, your Christmas is sounding more frazzled than mine. Hope you are feeling better. Packing for three months away - that sounds terrifying! Good luck!
e, your Christmas sounds lovely - actually, ours is too, and very relaxing, it is just end of year trauma.. tiramisu is actually very easy. The Girl makes it every year for The Man's birthday. It's excellent for Christmas, as it needs to be made the day before. Have fun!
Anonymous said…
Bah Meh. That's a combination of Bah Humbug and Meh. I am a total grinch and I can't be bothered about it. Not a good combination. I've made no Xmas cake as this is our first gluten free Xmas. The deco's are inside the house but not up. I have sorted most of the gifts. There's still a duck to be culled and frozen for Xmas eve dinner, veggies to source as the cold weather and slack planting has ensured they won't be grown in time. Bah Meh indeed. ;)
Judy said…
When they start selling mince pies in the local supermarket on August 31st, then I know it is time to put my blinkers on. I have been ignoring Christmas until last week, when I spent an hour ordering presents online and an hour trying to come up with a better present for my youngest daughter. I just couldn't bring myself to buy her a Furby - useless gizmo that she will only play with for a few weeks. Wish she needed a new bike instead, but I gave in to my morals and got the Furby. Oh joy :(

A Christmas tree arrived yesterday, thanks to a friend, and my daughters decorated it. I might even find some bluetack tomorrow and put up the pile of Christmas cards. I will sit down tomorrow and make some lists - presents still to get, meal plans for days when family are round, shopping lists. Then I fancy baking some shortbread stars dipped in chocolate and making some bark toffee (from NWedible blog)and its more or less job done :)

Throw the fish sauce in the bin! Having unfinished jobs hanging over you will sap your energy. Gardens are remarkably resilient to neglect too. A friend told me to stop worrying about what I feel I 'should' do and just focus on what I want to do. Its less pressure.

I hope you all get to enjoy Christmas and have a nice family break xxx

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