Me? Ready for Christmas? You must be kidding.
If there's a phrase specifically designed to get many of us breaking into a cold sweat, it's that one. This is the time of year when hairdressers throughout the land switch from "been anywhere nice for your holidays?" to "all ready for Christmas, then?" and it's the one question which can engender feelings of woeful inadequacy in some people, sheer terror in others and put most women into a bit of a spin. I go in for all three, obviously.
In our house things follow a well-trodden path. Around now I start asking my grown-up family what delightful little prezzie they would like from Mummy and Daddy. The answer these days is usually, "dunno". They will let me know. At this point I often reminisce about how lovely it used to be back in the good old days when they sent letters to Santa (or Father Christmas as we used to call him), written in wobbly crayon and entrusted to me to dispatch to FC by means of lighting the note and letting it float up the chimney (a dangerous practice I know, and one the Fire Brigade used to condemn on a regular basis when they turned up to deal with our chimney fires, although I must admit they always used to enjoy the sherry and mincepies. I really miss those boys). But those innocent days are long gone, and now gifts get to be ordered direct, from source, i.e., John Lewis, Amazon or Argos, bypassing Santa and his little elves completely. How sad.
Husband is similarly "not bovvered". He is a man with everything, he says, and has the receipts to prove it. He tells me he honestly can't think of anything he really wants, which is nice in one way and sad in another. Of course, this feigned apathy will last right up until the day before Christmas Eve, when having given it a coat of thought he will decide, at the very last moment, that what he'd really, really like would be some obscure, out of print book, written by an obscure out of print author forty years ago, which gives me no chance at all of finding it before the big day. There won't, of course, ever be an ISBN number, just a vague description of the plot and what the front cover looks like. Really useful.
But me, well, I've always got a list. A long one. It's usually random, varied but never boring, and doesn't contain anything remotely useful or domestic. I'll ask for a bottle of Chanel No 5, but never an egg poacher. I like orchids in pots, or hyacinths in baskets, but definitely not gardening gloves. Slippers are a no-no especially if they look like they've escaped from a tart's bedroom, anything thermal will get the giver a thick ear rather than a thank-you note, and I absolutely hate gift sets. Apart from that, I am easy to buy for. It's everyone else who's the problem.
But when it comes to festive food, for me that's where the real potential for panic lies. Questions such as "made your puddings yet?" are enough to make me want to lock myself in the pantry until February. No, of course I haven't made my pudding yet, or ever will as long as I can buy a fantastically delicious one from our local deli at less than it would cost me to make it. Ditto quiche, paté and ham. And have I done my stuffings? Are they nestling in cling-filmed smugness alongside the home-made bread sauce in my giant size freezer? Bugger off, this is me you're talking to. Don't forget who reminded you that "life's too short to stuff a mushroom". In my case, that extends to peeling chestnuts or arsing about with breadcrumbs too. There is one thing I've ticked off the list, however, and that is I've orderd "the bird" - or more accurately I should say "several birds" because this year (if you're vegetarian, please look away now) we're having a turkey, stuffed with duck, stuffed with chicken and I think there's a partidge in their somewhere. Gross really. A sort of festive, poultry pile-up, as if the whole lot of them had been travelling in convoy across an icy farmyard and then suddenly, oops, the lead bird (the turkey in this case) had slammed on the brakes, not giving the following traffic time to slow down. A rear-end shunt of gourmet proportions. Come to think of it, that's not very nice really. Especially for the birds.
Actually, on reflection, I might change my mind about the turkey et al, now I've described it in terms of road-kill. It's put me off a bit. But now that means I've done nothing, absolutely nothing, to get ready for Christmas.
Apart from buying a sparkly frock, booking my hair appointments and getting my nails sorted, obviously.
Doing anything special for New Year?