I’ll preface this by saying that i am extremely, but extremely grateful for how well the business has done this year, that i know exactly how lucky we are to have a thriving business, customers who come back, friends and family who support us, buy from us, help us and on top of that, in these troubled financial times we are (at least currently) reasonably financially secure and with a wage coming in. All these are good things. So, without doubt, is the thing i am about to complain about (only slightly and in a thoughtful way) – the seasonal outpouring of money on “stuff” that goes on. We are fortunate, grateful etc and i also wholly acknowledge that we both feed off (and feed only because of) and feed the monster that is gift giving. It would be churlish to be anything other than relieved it exists.
It has given me pause for thought this year though; last year there was no time for pausing, thinking or anything else. This year, despite being twicec as busy, it hasn’t been so awful and has mostly all felt fairly business like, organised and bearable. There has even been time for musing about it – and i confess myself turned off more and more by the idea of presents as love. Perhaps this is because the number of parcels (roughly 600 a day) we’ve packed has quite simply turned me off retail therapy but more than anything it is because for the last 4 weeks i have worked from 8am-8 or 9pm on a Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday (when Max has been home to have the girls) and also for portions of Mondays (when Sue has them or they are at clubs) and portions of Thursdays when they have come with me. When i get home, i take my dinner out of the oven, kiss Max at the door as he goes off to do a night shift and watch films with the girls as a chance to both relax and be with them. Otherwise i have stopped work only to shuttle them to clubs, or prepare stuff for them to do, or tidy up, or occasionally sleep. Most days i’ve got home at 9pm only to work for another 3 or 4 hours placing stock orders or emailing customers.
I have literally barely seen my children or my husband; i’ve worked the hours that some men at Max’s work choose to do and i can see how quickly it is possible to lose touch totally. These haven’t been normal working hours, they’ve not even been long working hours, they’ve been hours where there simply aren’t enough hours; i go to bed with a list of things i have not achieved, or things i have forgotten and i get up every day knowing that only by running for the door without even waiting for them to wake up can i hope to achieve even half of what needs doing. It has been quite insane; even withÂ various part timers, all we could get and supervise (that being the problem, temps wouldn’t really work) i’ve not been able to nearly cover the bases; i’ve had to accept i can only give a skeleton service to most things and i do hate not doing things well.
Although all the big girls know this has been better than last year and really they’ve had a nice 2 months with a parent nearly all the time, a normal home life and stuff going on as it normally does, i can see it has affected them, particularly Josie, who has been very clingy and needy when i have been home. She has needed a lot of cuddling and love; it makes me realise how very little she still is. Yes she is managing, yes she can cope and isn’t upset or hurt by it but it has underlined how very little 4 still is and how very much it would be wrong for her to be away from me much yet. I’m very glad she isn’t going to school any time soon.
The other day i happened to have a conversation with a customer on the continent and i mentioned that we had done St Nicholas’s Night; she was surprised and asked if the UK routinely did this now as it was a ‘European’ custom ( 🙄 ). I said that no it wasn’t but that as we were not particularly religious family, it seemed to me a worthy thing to have a creed about our celebrations and that a story that feted giving, thoughtfulness, generosity, kindness, love and selflessness was a worthy thing and perhaps as meaningful as the Christmas Story is anyway. And that made me think that it is perhaps no co-incidence that this year none of my children have any particular wants for Christmas – what they want is for all the work to be over and for us to be at home together, with time, cuddles, leisure, love, games and happiness. I think we are all learning something remarkably simple – that “stuff” has a price beyond an RRP ticket. I might be incredibly grateful for the money (which we’ll have to live on for nearly a year), thrilled to be successful and awed by the £***K the Xmas weeks have turned over but…all *i* want for Christmas is some time with my children and my husband when it is all over.