Well, this year I have taken a bit of time, before everything gets hectic, to have a think about what I really do and really do not want. It has been a completely selfish (and almost certainly pointless) exercise – but it has made me feel oh so much better.
This Christmas, I do NOT want...
Nothing... when I said: "Don't WASTE your money on me!" I meant don't buy scented candles that refuse to light properly, or a weird Christmas 'ornament'. I did not mean don't SPEND any money on me at all.
Kitchen equipment of any description... if you buy me a potato masher, do not expect me to mash potatoes with it. A toaster isn't really a present, not even if you have it inscribed. And if you manage to fit an iron into a Christmas stocking, you have basically just armed me with a weapon.
Any item of clothing... unless you have expressly been told where to get it and what size to get it in – and have been given a picture of it for reference. This body has borne children, it's a funny shape and, as such, buying any item of clothing without following those rules means you run the risk of sending me spiralling into a state of depression on Christmas Day.
A spa day with no extras... I do want a spa day, but a spa day without the additional offer of childcare and housework for the entire weekend essentially renders an expensive and potentially wonderful gift completely useless.
A Cliff Richard CD... I only say this because a friend told me she was given one once, by her dad, and it made me think, if anyone even considered buying one for me, I might actually cry.
Now for the wish list. The health of my family is a given – other than that I definitely DO want:
Help... yes, I know sometimes when I am asked if I would like some help I very sweetly ("No. I am fiiiiine, THANK YOU") decline as I slam the washing machine door. But actually I do want help. I just want the sort of help that happens without bringing it to my attention that I need help. This will be particularly true on Christmas Day. (If the turkey doesn't fit in the oven, just help, please don't say something like "didn't you measure it?") Thinking about it, perhaps what I actually need is permanent staff.
Peace and goodwill... all over the world would be excellent, but I'll settle for within these four walls. No screaming or arguing, and no tantrums. Could everyone just say please and thank you without being prompted? Please? Thank you.
A blinking machine... which would transport us all (to save a hellish flight) to a five-star resort in the Maldives, or somewhere similar, where I can remain horizontal for a large proportion of the day and have the children clamber over me (laughing). They will not need to wear clothes, someone else will make all the food, and I will read a whole novel.
A week of uninterrupted sleep... I'm not certain, but I think this would go a long way towards repairing what has happened to my face since becoming a mother. If it does not, maybe surgery.
Jewellery... sparkly, expensive, tasteful. Check with me first.
What do you really want for Christmas?
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