Christmas isn’t an easy time for any woman. You see us, battling around the shops, shoulders hunched, faces grim, as we do our best to grab the stuff that will, like magic pixie dust, transform our grumpy family (and isn’t every family grumpy in this cold, dark, wet, grey December?) into a Norman Rockwell festival of beaming smiles, jaunty bows in well-brushed hair and, of course, a huge TOWIE-hued turkey glistening centre stage.
As my friend Lucy at familyaffairsandothermatters points out, things suck even more if you are divorced. Do you, as Mr X and I have agreed, take it in turns to have the children on Christmas morning, then swap them over during the day in a tense hand-over like a Cold War thriller? If you do, you’ll know that the present-opening/lunch preparing/eating and making merry then have to be conducted to a strict timetable, in case one parent gets more than their due allocation of precious time. And, of course, the parent doing the long drive to the drop-off point on the windswept bridge between East and West Germany (ok, so I am getting carried away with this spy analogy) can’t drink until the handover is complete. By which time they will need to neck a vat of booze pretty quickly to blot out the whole spectacle of children wrenched from their new playthings/erstwhile spouse being all hurt/vituperative.
As I was driving back from the school this morning, I heard Woman’s Hour’s round-up of the worst possible things divorced parents could do to their children over Christmas. ‘Don’t make the children choose who they will be with. The parents should sort this out.’ ‘Show them that you can co-operate – probably all they want for Christmas is for both parents to get on.’ Keep to your old, pre-split traditions.’
Well, I may not have finished my cards, got all the presents or even started to think about what I’m going to cook. But at least I’ve got one list all ticked off. Great.