Tuesday, 16 December 2014

Holding my nerve













When it comes to big events, I like to hold my nerve as long as I can before I start panicking.  It's a strange thing, but almost everyone who knows me seems to think I'm calm and laid back. But inside I feel I'm exactly the opposite.  It's a strange dichotomy.  I'm not sure how I come across in this space.  Calm?  Frantic?  Nervy with a light edge of hysteria?  I find myself saying, "YOU HAVE GOT TO BE KIDDING" quite frequently.  But on the whole I can usually see the bigger picture enough to keep a tenuous grip on things.  Right now I'm in the nerve holding phase of Christmas.  Any minute now I'll break into the panic phase, I can feel it coming on.  

I made mince pies this week, but they've almost all been eaten now.  That's the trouble with festive baking isn't it.  The tree is up and decorated.  I've had Christmas cards from Christina and Sara, and Christina sent a sweet little crochet star that I've put on the mantelpiece.  I've got those nice oranges that come with leaves on at this time of year.  It fools me into thinking that they're nice and fresh from the tree.

Christmas reading includes Nigella's "Feast" for the seasonal recipes and Joanne Harris's "Lollipop Shoes", the sequel to "Chocolat".  It's made me a bit obsessed about chocolate, she writes so beguilingly about it.  I've written down a truffle recipe in my notebook as well as Sue's recipe for florentines.  The biggest boy has requested a Bruce Bogtrotter's cake.  It's from our Roald Dahl recipe book.  I'm an absolute sucker for this kind of cookery book.  I've bought the Winnie the Pooh one for the littlest boy for Christmas and I've had the Moomin one from the library too, it's excellent.  I think it helps me live in a fantasy world of rabbit holes and Scandinavian adventures.  I've perfected the art of avoiding reality when required.

I'm also reading Jostein Gaarder's "The Christmas Mystery" to the little people, one chapter a day during advent.  It's lovely to have a book that stretches out nicely over December.  Are there any others like this?  I don't know, but I shall look out for one.

On the gift front I've managed to avoid the shops, and we had another lovely walk on Saturday, miles from the busy places.  Father Christmas has been ordering online, but there's been a little snafu with the skates that you will recall the littlest boy requested.  FC, in a moment of festive absent-mindedness, ordered the wrong size - the size that would fit the middle boy.  I made discreet enquiries of the middle boy.  Did he fancy skates for Christmas?  He couldn't think of anything before, so he'd decided to have money so that when something catches his eye he could have that.  He's a lot like me, he agonises over every choice.  I'm the one who stands in the toothpaste aisle at the supermarket for twenty minutes paralysed by indecision.  Anyway, he gave it some thought and decided that he didn't know if he wanted skates or not, so he wouldn't have any, but if he did want some later he could buy some.  So FC returned the skates and crossed his fingers that the replacements would turn up in time to avoid disappointment.  Two days later I had a conversation that went something like this.  "Mummy?"  "Yes sweetie?"  "You know you asked if I wanted skates for Christmas?"  "Yes..."  "I've decided I would like some please."  FC has spent some time on the phone today trying to sort it all out.  There is a distinct possibility we'll end up with three pairs, not all from the same place.  It's too complicated to go into, but no doubt you've had these exact moments yourself, you know how it goes.

The next time I write I'll have moved into the panic phase.  You have been warned.  CJ xx

39 comments:

  1. I recommend a quick nip from the cooking sherry bottle. It works for me. :)

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  2. Breathe, CJ. It will be okay. Father Christmas is being extraordinarily patient over there, I have to give him credit. :) I love your photos, they're very festive and I am jealous of your orange with a leaf still attached, I don't think I've ever seen that happen in a store-bought piece of citrus fruit.

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  3. You have my sympathy CJ, I'm rubbish at buying great gifts and it's so hard to balance things out with three.
    My getting to all out in the morning to re-evaluate to situation....then racking by brains and dashing to the shops....I LOVE Christmas ;0)
    Jacquie x

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  4. Well you don't sound panicked, but that doesn't mean that you aren't! Or that you are!! I can imagine that throwing children into the mix and the difficult father Christmas requests does make life a lot harder at this time of year. I am pretty well organised - in my head! - and then I remember things like have all the right bins gone out and do I have duck fat - as if the normal olive oil is somehow not going to be acceptable come the big day! I bought a big tin of sweets for work tomorrow, and I forgot that I already have one... At least they will be eaten. I am doing an impression of organised and of happy, but on the inside - well! I imagine that you are feeling much the same. Sorry if I made you feel worse, I didn't mean to - just sharing that I understand somewhat! Rusty Duck is right - the sherry is always a good option!!! I am sure that it will all be perfect and wonderful come the big day whatever you do or don't do and whatever father Christmas does or doesn't bring - he can always leave a note explaining. He left my brother in law a note when he was child about the fact that it is hard to deliver goldfish when you travel by flying sleigh! xx

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  5. Gotta love these holidays!! It all works out in the end, easy for me to say my kids are grown up! It is such a dreadful panic and moms try to hold it together as best we can and try to
    Make it close to perfect as we can. It's an onerous job! Sheesh! I remember one Xmas eve I went to pull all the baking in the freezer out where I carefully hid it and it was all gone. Some big mice and their school friends had cleaned it all out! And then your family wonders why you are looking a tad crazy! I love the pictures of your beautiful wAlks. Much better way to spend the day. Hang in there!!

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  6. I've reached denial, Which I think may come before and after panic. I was supposed to write cards and wrap parcels today, so I cleared out a load of kitchen cupboards ... what was that all about? Normally contemplating sorting out the cupboards would drive me to do anything but, but it becomes a displacement activity when Christmas looms?

    I hope you can get the skates sorted.

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  7. How beautiful are your photos!

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  8. I think I closed the window before I sent my comment.. dang. But my message was just take a deep breath and slow your heart and mind down and it will all work out. I know it's not easy making the perfect xmas happen, but with as much love as you and FC show.. it's all good. ((hugs)), Teresa :-)

    ❉ ❉ ❉ ❉ ❉ ❉ ❉ ❉ ❉ ❉ ❉ ❉ ❉ ❉ ❉ ❉ ❉
    *M*E*R*R*Y* *C*H*R*I*S*T*M*A*S*!*
    ❉ ❉ ❉ ❉ ❉ ❉ ❉ ❉ ❉ ❉ ❉ ❉ ❉ ❉ ❉ ❉ ❉

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  9. Hope the skate problem works out in the end - I'm so glad that these things happen to other people too; it could have been me writing that! I love the snazzy guitar and your piano looks a bit like ours, except ours is missing the old candle sconces. I love Joanne Harris' books; I think Chocolat is my favourite but I enjoyed The Lollipop Shoes too - definitely books to put weight on with! Keep calm and carry on walking! x

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  10. It all gets a lot lot easier as the children get older, and that happens sooner than you think. But it's a good thing!

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  11. I am just the same, holding it all in. I placed a big Amazon order well over a week ago and it has not yet arrived so I'm beginning a mild internal panic about it's whereabouts. I've been stashing into the linen cupboard for weeks but cannot remember an nth of what I've actually stashed in there, it is probably woefully inadequate and despite starting shopping early for the first time EVER, I expect I will still end up doing the headless chicken thing very soon. I wish it were different, don't you? xxxxx

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  12. PS really laughed at the word SNAFU, my dad used to say that a lot when I was a kid and once after much pestering he told us what it stood for and we sniggered for days after that at him telling us the "F" word!!!

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  13. You certainly do come across as a calm sort of person but I understand how you might be in reality since people have often said the same about me and I look behind me to see who it is that the are talking about for it surely can't be me who panics at the least thing! It must be good acting perhaps? Hope that the skate problem will get sorted and that you will all have a lovely Christmas and that not too many things will cause yu to get up-tight this season. I love yur posts as they depict real life and not some fairy tale utopia and yet as I said you seem to come across as dealing with all its many and various problems so calmly. Take a little quiet time for yourself along with all the other stuff!

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  14. As always a most enjoyable post and wonderful photos. With three, or rather four, boys to contend with you seem to cope admirably.
    It may not be totally suitable in this instance but...Keep Calm and Plot On! Flighty xx

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  15. Hey CJ,
    I have all three of those books, and love them all. Olly and me have been reading Christmas themed stories too. I admit to having an inner humbug at the moment. Maybe some festive baking would get me in the mood.
    I love your piano. I've always wanted to learn. Is it too late do you think?
    Leanne xx

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    1. Hi Leanne
      It is never too late to learn the piano. You will love to play an instrument! I started playing the cello when I was thirty (haven't played for three years and miss it). Cxx

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  16. I am feeling terribly ashamed now, I have not read a single Christmas story to my little people. I just usher them to bed and collapse on the sofa. Annie has been singing Christmas Carols and I am feeling even more ashamed. I am in denial mode, but panic will soon set in. It is bound to happen. I am glad you like my card and the little star. I'll send you one every year from now on and soon you'll have star bunting! Keep calm for now. Cxx

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  17. It doesn't get any easier when the kids grow up, believe me. Hope the skate situation works out, I remember lots of similar moments myself but it always seems to be ok in the end.

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  18. Oh CJ, don't panic. It is JUST a holiday! The boys will be happy with whatever they get no doubt - you seem to be doing a great job of raising them correctly. The things that you've stated in this post - staying away from the shops, getting out in nature, reading to them, sweets baked from scratch - you're doing awesome!

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  19. I saw a great poster the other day that said " Don't get your tinsel in a tangle ! "
    Stay calm, breathe and relax and most of all have lots of fun !
    Happy Christmas CJ, Kate xx

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  20. I would imagine shopping for three boys to be quite exhausting. We only had one boy. Not too hard when he was little, but now that he is an adult --- SO much harder. It's is impossible to decide what he would like to have!!!! This year he is getting a UK magazine subscription....something about medieval war implements. He wanted it. It's a bit pricey, but I'm glad he enjoys it AND I looked --- it is very well written so worth the money.

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  21. Hi CJ. I hit panic mode about three days ago. The stress and anxiety built up and then yesterday I had a good cry, got my thoughts in order and am now feeling calm again. Well, as calm as it gets for me.
    The skates thing sounds like a nightmare. I always let Jay deal with that sort of thing as phoning People (as opposed to people - relatives, friends) drives me slightly nuts. You often have to repeat the story several times to several different departments and... oh dear, I can feel the stress building at the mere thought of it!
    At least this time of year is synonymous with getting merry. Drinky merry, you know.
    Hope you manage to keep calm. I know you'll deal with it all in good humour :)
    S x

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  22. FC seems to be working overtime but I'm sure it will work out in the end. It does get easier when children become adults. I'm joining you in the fantasy world of rabbit holes and Scandinavian adventures - sounds great!

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  23. Thank you for this lovely post. I read it with a smile on my face all the way through. I so identify with what you've said and glad I'm not the only person 'quietly panicking'. With three married children and 10 grandchildren to buy for and feed I've made lists of lists to try to keep me sane although I know in the end that it's the time spent with everyone that holds the lasting memories.

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  24. Oh, I know exactly where you are coming from - people think I'm calm, relaxed, organised, laid back and I sort of am, but at the same time inside there is a bit of which is nervous and panicky - somehow I manage to keep it under control. But sometimes people take advantage of my laid back manner and think they can get away saying and doing almost anything, and all at once the iron lady in me unleashes and they don't know what has hit them!! (P.S this doesn't happen very often and I have to be provoked quite a lot!)
    FC does have a tricky time doesn't he? And all you want is for your children to be happy
    Enjoy xx

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  25. I feel for you. It reminds me of the Christmas when my youngest daughter asked for a skateboard. A few days before Christmas, at the school play raffle, she triumphantly, delightedly won a magnificent one with light-up wheels while her ashen mother in the crowd heaped a hundred thousand curses on raffles.

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  26. Ha ha ha ha, I love that skates story! That's like every conversation ever with my toddler, except that the end result isn't a calm and considered, "Yes, thank you, I decided I did want the thing you offered me after all" but a scream and tantrum and, "I WANT IT NOOOOOOW" (usually about the un-touched supper that I have, long since, scarfed myself...)

    I had a small panic a few days ago (largely about all the unbought presents and house painting needed) but have come out the other side now, which is pleasing. xxxx

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  27. I loved your story about the skates that's always the way. Hope you are feeling calmer now. Sarah x

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  28. Isn't that just typical :-) My son couldn't make his mind up either this year but just at the moment when panic sets in and you think 'I'm not going to get what he wants in time', he snuggled up to me and whispered what he wanted - my reaction -"YOU WANT WHAT!!!". Bless him, he will get it but it was a shock at how much a simple gadget can be (Father Christmas has a lot to answer for). I hope the skates arrive in time, panic will set in, it always does doesn't it? but isn't it lovely when you sit down on Christmas Eve and give that lasting sigh of relief! Well, let's hope for that moment :-)

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  29. I have stopped asking my children what they would like, because of the changing their minds at the last minute............ I am not sure how it will all for out, but for now I am happy about what I've chosen, who knows if they will be................

    meanwhile I'm also plotting to make Sue's florentines, and wondering why I haven't had a single mince pie yet.........

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  30. I know it's bad of me but the skates story made me laugh. Angus has changed his mind so many times about gifts that I'm beyond caring. Don't panic, its only Christmas. It's all going to be ok. Xx

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  31. You've described my feelings exactly. I'm just on the verge of freaking out about all that has to be done! The story about the skates seems to be a classic Christmas one and I feel for you. Hopefully everything gets sorted out and FC can sigh in relief!

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  32. I haven't done a single thing for Christmas yet and for some reason I don't even seem to be worried. Maybe I'm just in denial....At least your tree is up, that's a whole activity more than what I've done :-) x

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  33. I went to buy Christmas cards last night, and the only ones left were the really horrid ones or the really expensive ones! So if you had decided like me not to buy your cards in October (slight exaggeration), and leave it until it was Christmas week - bad luck! I'm surprised they haven't got the Easter eggs out already... Love your next post about the spices, I need ( want ) those stripy bags.

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  34. I used to be really tense about Christmas, but these days I only aim to create some relaxed family time together. Of course there will be some surprises for everyone (I love surprising the boys), but I've never promised what FC will be bringing, and they are always happy with what's there. I also usually include a new board game or (this year) a huge jigsaw for all to join in with. And we'll have some unusual food (not the weekday pasta), but no pressure.
    Recognising your book (The Lollipop Shoes) in my local library today, I'll be spending some time with that, too, hopefully.

    So, breathe, relax, it will be fine!

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  35. I hope you've managed to sort the skate thing out and you're feeling calm about everything now. I've nearly reached saturation point with the mince pies but they're helping me cope :-) x

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  36. Well can I just say you always come across as calm with a great sense of humor, no matter the situation. I on the other hand come across as a grouch with a big old attitude!
    Hugs to you,
    Meredith

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  37. I agree with Mere, you definitely come across as calm with a great sense of humor. You also seem to make me feel like things will always work out which I really appreciate since I can relate to a lot of your family logistic anxiousness. I think the scenery, the photos where I imagine you experiencing everything really is a great back drop of calmness. I mean, it aids to the idea that you keep things peaceful really well in such a peaceful place. Your middle son's careful consideration is much like my son's. Your story of standing in the aisle agonizing over toothpaste is exactly me. I'm better when not left alone. ha!

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  38. You'll always remember this as the year you had 3 skates (possibly haha). I hope you end up with just the two you want! I love that Christmas card with the sweaters. I'm like you and your son that I agonize over every single purchase! Then I always get buyers remorse afterwards, too

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