Priorities, obligations and guilt

I really am persona non grata with my family at the moment. Why? Because I’m not joining them all for Christmas in the cold, dark, wet UK – I’ve booked myself a trip to Egypt and Dubai for three weeks.Pyramids, camels, sphinxes – here I come. Continue reading

Merry Christmas!

I’ve finally finished my Christmas shopping and have even wrapped everything already (*smug smile*). My clients have all received hand-written Christmas cards from me thanking them for their business this year. And today I’ll spend some time replying to holiday letters from family and friends around the world.

As a copywriter, I’m always trying to come up with creative ways to wish people well over the holidays.

First, do you stick to the neutral ‘happy holidays’ version, or make it about Christmas? For me, it IS a religious holiday and I celebrate its true meaning. I’m pretty sure my non-Christian friends don’t mind me wishing them a happy Christmas, because after all, the celebration is one of joy and love. And I reckon my non-Christian friends wouldn’t mind being wished a happy Christmas – firstly because it’s usually said with a good intention (as opposed to an evangelical one) and secondly, because those who are non-practicing celebrate Christmas in a secular way anyway.

Second, I love the old-fashioned terminology around Christmas. Words like tidings, joy, merry and greetings. It conjures up a time where family and friends really were the focus, rather than the materialistic side of Christmas.

So here’s my wish to all the readers of this blog: May your Christmas be filled with love, laughter, joy and merriment as you spend time with your loved ones. And may you escape the mayhem of the malls and instead find a place where the peace and magic of the season fill your heart and remain there in the year to come.

Merry Christmas. xx

Christmas gift protocol

When you’re single, Christmas can pose a couple of problems when it comes to buying gifts. It can also get pretty expensive.

A good friend from school got married a few months ago. Usually I’d just buy her a gift, but now I feel I should get her husband one too. Or something between them for their home? But wouldn’t that undermine my relationship with her a little? It’s easy for them – they buy me one gift (on their dual incomes…) as per usual.

What to do? I’ve ended up getting them a joint present, plus baked some of my ‘oh wow, these are amazing’ chocolate brownies which I know they love too, and got her a tiny little gift of her own.

My main group of friends solves the gift problem with a ‘Secret Santa’ party. DV organises this – usually a picnic – every year and it’s always a really fun day. We get told what the gift budget is (usually pretty small) and then have to get creative about finding an interesting gift. Some years we are allocated a person to buy for; this year the brief was generic and we played a game where you could either ‘steal’ the gift the people before you picked or choose a new one from the pile.

The next question is what to do about gifts for couples with children. I can’t afford to buy for both parents plus two or more kids. I know I won’t be getting four gifts from them 🙂 It’s not about tit for tat, but in this situation I think it’s a little easier: I buy just for the kids.

I am also hosting Christmas lunch this year and there will be 10 adults, two kids and my baby nephew. Three of the adults and the two kids are from my sister-in-law’s family and I don’t know them very well. Am I expected to get them all a gift? Brownies to the rescue yet again! I spent yesterday baking, dusting them in edible gold dust and packaging them beautifully in waxed paper with lovely striped grosgrain ribbons, tied with a sea shell.

I just love Christmas and if – no, when! – I am a gazillionaire, I would love to shower everyone I know with goregous presents. But for now, it’s immediate family and close friends only; everyone else gets brownies 🙂