It's Christmas - I'm doomed

So I'm lugging the Christmas tree out of the basement and groaning at the thought of happily placing the baubles on all those lovely branches - thank god we moved to a fake one a couple of years ago so I don't have to sweep up all those bloody needles. The chore of faking my love of Christmas is probably one of my hardest tasks all year.

I admit that when Lexi, my daughter, was young, I felt a frisson of excitement. it was actually possible to search out a present that I might provide her with several minutes of smiles. It wasn't as good as it should have been because as an only child she was used to snapping her fingers and having my husband and I scurrying around the shops buying things on demand. However, we managed to rustle up a bit of joy and good tidings. I did occasionally think wistfully about the carol services that we used to go to as children before Christmas, which were a welcome break from regular Sunday church, but I didn't seem to be able to make my daughter see any sense to standing around in a cold church singing songs she had never heard of. When I finally did convince her to try it out, we were already living in Portugal and I forgot that the whole thing would be in Portuguese, so no Little Town of Bethlehem or Good King Wenceslas. Just an hour of Portuguese chanting.

Now, it's nothing short of a nightmare. I imagine myself 50 years ago contentedly making doilies for a maiden aunt (never actually had one), while my husband carves a wooden doll for my daughter. The joy of handmade gifts. That of course has never happened and instead Christmas requires several agonisingly exhausting trips to the mall where we all stand around looking like deers caught in the headlights. None of us have a clue what to buy each other that we haven't already bought ourselves several times over.

The pressure of not resorting to arguments on the actual day itself can be a challenge as well. My husband gave me a walking stick with a sword inside it a few years ago when we were living in Colorado. It's purpose was to help me ward of coyotes when I was out walking on the planes with my dogs. I admit to not being the most girly of girls, but who wants to get a sword for Christmas so that they can stab a few coyotes that wander into my vicinity? Smiling gratefully about that gift lasted about a nanosecond past midnight before I launched into my 'what are you crazy?' speech.

This year, my daughter messaged me on Facebook and sent me a picture of a suede jacket she had just found for me in a charity shop as a possible Christmas present. I loved her for taking the time to think about what I might like, but I also knew that my current lifestyle that consists of endless hikes, bike rides and constantly brushing off mud from my jeans didn't really allow for too many suede jacket occasions. I hated having to tell her - I felt so guilty.

Anyway, as anyone will tell you, the best part of Christmas is having an excuse to see members of the family you haven't seen for a while. I love that part. The trick is to keep it short and sweet so that no one has the time to start racking up past grievances and reverting to the nursery. It's possible, I know it's possible.

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