This is the time of year when I try to con visitors into believing this is what my house is like all-year round: a cosy nest of cleanliness infused with a blend of mulled wine and home-made sausage rolls. Isn’t that what we all do at Christmas – strive for a better life, one where we have the time and energy to live in peace, harmony and betwinklement? When actually, like many other modern family homes, mine lives in a sort of evergreen chaos.
If my Mum is reading this, she’ll be horrified. Her house is always beautifully sanitary and her ‘stuff’ has been tamed into knowing its place. Not so the errant belongings round ours. And why? Not because she has more time and energy but because she has higher standards. Women of her generation do. Women of our generation have the feminist thing to cling to: I will not be made to feel that cleaning is my duty! Excuses, excuses. Not that I’m not a feminist…the height of my piles demonstrates my view quite clearly in that area.
At this time of year, I really would like to be Kirsty Allsop, leisurely marauding through the festive season crafting Christmas Spirit out of a bit of twine and a vintage teacup. And doing it all from the perfect home; looking impossibly upmarket-country into the bargain. Her life should be sponsored by Boden. If her success is anything to go by, I’m not the only one coveting her perfect Christmas and idyllic rural lifestyle. This year I even made stockings for our first Christmas as a family of three. It was my best Kirsty-esque effort but I have to admit in the end that I’m more of a Nigella really (lazy domestic Goddess, not court-appearing heroine. #Team Nigella by the way.)
I’m just as bad.When I was a teacher, my desk piles were the stuff of legend. And our house is no different. For around 360 days a year there are clusters of paper and unruly ‘stuff’ without a permanent home littered around our little stone terrace. We really should move but I fear a larger house might just result in larger piles.
Most of these things are redundant relics: the barely-used weights and exercise ball; a drawer full of VHS copies of Star Wars and other 80s classics and, of course, the unopened and now defunct Orange bills mingled in with a cornucopia of junk mail. Occasionally, I’ll rustle a pile into the recycle bin or into the filing cupboard (read even bigger unsorted mish-mash of important documents) but, at Christmas, it all just gets hidden.
Why is this practice justifiable? Because at least it’s not in land-fill. Because I’m so starved of time I’m even writing this post in the car on the way to deliver Christmas presents. Because, instead of filing, I’m usually doing important things like entertaining an 8 month old – catching her every time she lunges face-forward off the sofa in her over-zealous (and premature) attempts to walk. I’m thinking Big Thoughts like this. And because Christmas is about putting aside the little things in favour of cherishing the important stuff. Time. Family. Friends. A Christmas episode of Downton.
In the New Year (perhaps) I’ll unearth (some) of the stowaways, de-clutter, refine and purify but, just for now, the appearance of perfection is almost as good as the real thing.