Well, the presents have all been exchanged, the family visits are over, most of the food has been eaten and maybe, like me, you’ve been the one who has orchestrated most of it in your family. The buying of the presents and the food. Putting up the decorations, the wrapping of the gifts and the cooking of the meals.
Now in that no man’s land between Christmas and New year you just need an afternoon all to yourself. If you work from home too and your kids are school age, or older, you will be used to having the place mostly to yourself for hours on end during the day. But for the last 10 days you have been the linchpin of festive fun and frolics. There’s only so much one can do before you need to hide away for an afternoon. Don’t you find?
The house becomes slovenly during Christmas and New Year. At least my house does. To be honest, my house is rarely far from slovenly, but this morning I woke up with a mission for cleanliness and order. The beds needed changing. I do this every year whether they need it or not – as the old joke goes!
We all have our own bedrooms in our house – read my blog on sleeping separately to be introduced to the joys of this – so this morning I delivered clean bedlinen to my son and my husband’s rooms with necessary instructions! They looked surprised and a bit scared. What did this mean for the rest of their day? But they shouldn’t have worried, once I had vacuumed everywhere – even under the cushions of the sofa monopolised by the dog, where I found enough soil to repot my Christmas hyacinths – I was planning on having time to myself and that means allowing them time to themselves too! Lucky them. But the trick is not telling them.
You can’t admit that you are going to find a couple of hours to yourself because apparently that amounts to husband and child neglect. It has to be done surreptitiously so no-one notices. This means allowing my son to play with his new games on his X-box without interruption. It’s a bit like when your children are very small and they finally settle to some game of the imagination in the sitting room. The trick is to do nothing that draws attention to yourself. Once they notice you they will find something for you to do for them. Never disturb a child when they are fully engaged. Unless they are fully engaged with eating the contents of your make up bag – even then I’d think twice, especially if your make-up is hypoallergenic.
I find myself skulking around my house trying not to make any noise. I tip-toe from my study to the kitchen and quietly place 2 dirty mugs on the work surface – not daring to open the dishwasher in case the noise alerts anyone to my presence. Knowing that hunger will eventually rouse them from their activities I have taken the precaution of giving them a big breakfast – scrambled eggs on sourdough with mushrooms and tomatoes – to buy myself more time.
Almost as though I had preplanned it (ha ha) I find my study is home to the huge pile of Christmas novels, my new colouring book and pens, an old Sudoku book I’ve just found in the huge desk tidy my son made for me at school this year. I have numerous knitting projects tucked away in the corners – some of which I had intended finishing before Christmas – but which Christmas I find myself asking? I even have a hitherto unopened box of chocolates, if I get desperate. My new iPhone speakers have been installed on my desk and I’m listening to Adele. Isn’t everyone?
I’m just not sure if I can get away with shutting my study door. That’s just asking for trouble isn’t it? If anyone notices my door is shut they will feel compelled to open it and ask, ‘what are our plans?’ As my plan is to hide in here for as long as I can get away with, I don’t have a civil response to this.
Now I’m aware what an ingrate I am. There are many people who would love to have a family around them needing love and attention – I do know that, and I try to remind myself that one day things will be different and then maybe I will be desperate for a family that needs to have regular contact with me to feel secure in their worlds – but for now, I’d like to venture out of my study to the downstairs loo next door and not have to have a conversation with anyone or even explain why I might want to close the loo door.
I promise when I’m a lonely old lady I’ll look back on this blog post, if my old arthritic fingers can still manage to work my iPad or computer, and feel suitably chastened. But for now, I’d just like to close the door of my study, get comfortable on my sofa and start a new book, without drawing attention to myself. Might even open those chocolates – quietly. Shhh!