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Wassail’s a girl to do?

In answer to my own question – HOUSEWORK!

I need a sit down, but my conscience doesn’t allow me to read a book or take a nap when the cleaning is only half done and none of the Christmas veg has actually yet been prepped, so a blog-post is essentially now being used as a justifiable excuse to rest my aching limbs awhile before the pandemonium of Yule truly begins.

I enjoy Christmas Day when we get to it, but it’s hard work in the preparation.  I stupidly set high standards for myself and the last few days usually pass in a haze of cake decoration, mince pies, washing, ironing, bed-changing, vacuuming, scrubbing and bleach.  These activities are often jumbled together, as I have limited staying power and the attention span of a gnat. I lurch from one thing to another in a haphazard fashion – although by some housewifery miracle this method does usually result in being able to tick off most of the necessary items by the end of the day.

Now, it is fair enough to expend all this energy when preparing for the arrival of one’s mother-in-law, or even one’s own parents perhaps. But Mr J and I are now the “top” generation (a term preferred to ‘oldest’), my own offspring don’t expect a great deal from me – after all, they lived with me for many many non-Christmas days and I’m unlikely to have reformed in my old age – and our other visitor, my brother-in-law, will likely not notice if some surfaces are less shiny than others. Nevertheless, I am programmed to make an effort regardless, and this year is no different. Except, now that I am retired there is more time to plan and spread the tasks out. And having Christmas Day on a Saturday somehow makes the ‘last-minute’ days greater in number, so I have definitely felt ahead of myself some of the time. I fear that will be my undoing at some point in the next 24 hours, but so far so good.

  • The Christmas tree is decorated – I think we were quite good lasting until 21st December before lugging it in from the garden. It would have looked a lot better if my daughter had been here to do it (my preferred option) but I took a leaf from her book and played a Christmas album whilst decorating
  • The Christmas cake has marzipan and icing on it. I will not boast that it is ‘iced’, as it is in fact possible to see through some of the icing this year. 
  • The spare beds are all made up and only one of them has since been used by the cat. Most of the bedding has even been ironed (at some point)
  • The fridge is full – although worryingly not as full as in previous years. This hopefully just means there will be less waste, but as we don’t usually have much waste, it is possible there has been a huge oversight I have yet to discover
  • I have gathered together in the kitchen all the various special Christmas food items I have been secreting around the house for the past month (at least, I think I have). I have to hide it, or it gets eaten early. 
  • The presents are wrapped and under the Christmas tree – apart from one still to be wrapped and one about which I made an executive decision to open this afternoon when particularly peckish at tea-time, having just received it from a friend who had explained it was home-made Parkin (and I am very partial to that)
  • I have definitively decided not to put any Christmas lights outside this year, so can tick that off the list 
  • Two of our bathrooms are now sparkling, including the shower which received unaccustomed deep-clean treatment yesterday for which I dressed myself in a peculiar outfit of ancient T-shirt and rolled up holey jeans (and of course continued to wear for the rest of the day – no wonder there is little romance in this house) thus avoiding Viakal damage to my regular stylish togs. There is a third bathroom (yes, I know, the middle-class shame of it) into which I do not normally venture, it being the preserve of Mr J. He keeps it clean, but as it will temporarily be used by our daughter and her house-cat (again, I know!) I may pop in before their arrival and spruce up those bits I know he will have overlooked (mirror, tiles, towel-rail etc)
  • Half the house has been vacuumed (I refuse to say Hoovered because I once had Electrolux as a client and they told me it annoyed them. I am a loyal person – also, of course, a literary pedant). There’s no point doing the rest until just before people arrive (and then not again until New Year??? – can I get away with it?)
  • Mr J has removed several crates and boxes to the shed. This outside-of-the house task may have been hastened by his having to listen to me as I caterwauled along to the Eagles Live album on my headphones whilst tackling the top floor. Apparently this is completely fine when the vacuum cleaner is on and drowning me out, but less so when I’m dusting and polishing. Surely better than my usual endless repetition of whichever Wassail has decided to be my ear-worm of the day? Well, maybe not. It’s likely something to do with incoherent lyrics, general mumbling, and random switching from the tune, to the Backing Vocal, to an ‘interesting’ harmony, to the guitar solo etc.  I wonder if it was even possible to tell what I was listening to? I am sure it improved my productivity though!

Now I have deemed it too late in the day to stomp around doing more cleaning, I will go and wrap the last present and hopefully by the time that is done, it will be a suitable o’clock for the final ‘you’re not allowed to eat any of the Christmas food’ supper decision* of the year. 

*From Christmas Eve, everything except the turkey, the figgy pudding and the Christmas cake (however amateurishly iced) is fair game! And expected, along with no cleaning, to last into the New Year. 


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