Deborah Ross: Our Woman in Crouch End

People who get stressed by Christmas can turn quite nasty. Or so I have heard...
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The Independent Online

Christmas. Christmas, Christmas, Christmas, Christmas. It's all you see and all you hear about. It's Christmas this, Christmas that, and stressed-out people saying how stressed they are by the whole business that is Christmas, Christmas, Christmas and it's all so boring and predictable and why don't they just get a grip because hello? hello?, it happens every year, love, same time, same place, nothing new in it, and we all know about the shopping, shopping, shopping and the greedy, capitalist children who shouldn't be given yet more stuff when they could be given goats or honey-bees, even though no-one tells you how to wrap them, and then it's more shopping, shopping, shopping, and what is this? A race to see which gives out first: your money or your feet? Oh, it's all very well when they expire together, then you're in clover, but it can turn ugly when, say, your feet have gone but you're credit card is still naughtily and often criminally up for it and says: "Come on, feet, you can do it" and the feet say: "Look, just fuck off, why don't you?" and this can be very embarrassing, especially when it happens on the bus. Luckily, though, I am not one of those people who get stressed at Christmas. Getting stressed at Christmas is for losers.

Christmas blast

Christmas. Christmas, Christmas, Christmas, Christmas. When it comes down to it, it's only a roast dinner and some presents, and nothing to get in a tizzy about or so worked up you are waking at 4am with your heart pounding and your mind racing with all sorts of last-minute considerations like: "Bread sauce? What's that all that about then?" And "the turkey, I'm sure it's too small" and 'the turkey, it'll be too big for the oven" and have you, reader, ordered your turkey yet, have you, have, you, have you, have you? And is it a Kelly free-range organic one because that's what Nigella says you must have and if Nigella says you must then you must but what Nigella doesn't say is that it'll set you back £82 - eighty-two-bloody-quid - and it's not even a big one and this can start you thinking that while you are all for free-range and organic, did these ones also have ensuite, DVD, private plunge pool and personal trainer supplied by the Matt Roberts corporation? I mean, if I'd wanted to spend that much on a Kelly bird, couldn't I have got Lorraine, who could probably feed 97 and is likely to be juicy and just look at the breast on it, for heaven's sake! Enough for everybody - tuck in! - and she seems so pleasant, too. All I am saying is that these are the sorts of things some people can get quite worked up about.

Christmas present

Christmas. Christmas, Christmas, Christmas, Christmas. It's about the kids, really, isn't it? Such a magical time for kids. Nothing's too much for the kids. I know: I'll work my arse off for the kids! So it's stocking fillers from here, stocking fillers from there, and what the hell, I'll wrap the goat if you hold it down, and let's fret some more over the Scalextric that doesn't work until you've spent an hour fiddling with the tiny brushes under the cars and then it still doesn't work and then it's creeping into their rooms in the middle of the night, as if you don't have better things to do, like worry about bread sauce, when you've yet to get your head round brandy butter, and then it's the department store Santa who costs a bomb but is only really just another unemployed hoody and then all you get for your trouble is a: "Mummy, why do you and Father Christmas always use the same wrapping paper?" Of course, you want to keep the magic going for as long as you can but, frankly, who gives a toss, so you just say: "Oh, piss off. Can't you see how tired I am?" People who get het up in this way sometimes, I'm led to understand, just don't give a stuff about the magic anymore.

Christmas futile

Christmas. Christmas, Christmas, Christmas, Christmas. And then it's the nieces and nephews and there are hundreds of them and then it's Freddie on the phone - Hello Fred! - who is four and better on the phone than he used to be when you sister would say: "Oh, just talk to Fred a moment, he won't talk back but he will listen" and Fred says he is going to leave out a mince pie for Santa and so you say: "Oh no, Freddie, Santa is very fed up of mince-pies but do you know what he'd really like? He'd like a home-made triple-layer meringue cake and a barrel of hand-peeled shallots, that's what he'd really like...", and an hour later your sister phones back and shouts "bitch!" and then hangs up, as anyone who has taken the morning off work to peel the one shallot will understand but then she shouldn't have put her littlest one on the phone before he could speak, should she? But the trouble with people who get stressed by Christmas is that they can turn quite nasty. Or so I have heard.

Bah, humbug!

And then there's all the wrapping and who's got the scissors? Who's got the Sellotape? And the things from Amazon that haven't yet arrived and, oh God, I'd better get something for her because she might get something for me and maybe I should allow for more than one cracker per person and sod the cake, I'll just customise a shop-bought one by bashing it about a bit, who is to know? And wouldn't it be nice if my feet and my credit card stopped fighting, fighting, fighting, if only for a minute - stop it, guys! - and at what point is it acceptable to buy people any old rubbish just for the sheer relief of crossing them off your list and is it around now and what seven-year-old doesn't want a new mop anyway and I'm not crying, it's just that I've been up since dawn peeling the one shallot and the goat keeps trying to kick itself out of it's wrapping paper, as if that isn't going to give the game away... Christmas. Christmas, Christmas, Christmas, Christmas. Nothing to it, really. A cinch.

d.ross@independent.co.uk

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