Katie Byrne: 'Why do we make the same mistakes every Christmas?'
Why do we make the same mistakes every Christmas?
If I had to choose a phrase that sums up my Christmas experience, it would be this: Never again.
Never again, I mutter while rushing around Tesco on Christmas Eve like a contestant in Supermarket Sweep.
Never again, I huff after being told by yet another hairdresser that there's no room at the inn.
Never, ever again, I vow when the ATM tells me that my funds have become 'insufficient'.
Despite having celebrated 31 Christmases, I have yet to grasp the simple idea that we need to optimise our time and budget our money during the festive season.
I blame seasonal amnesia - which is the tendency to forget aspects of the festive season that aren't sprinkled with glitter or wrapped in a neat little bow. To refresh your selective memory, here's the other pitfalls that we often overlook:
YOU WILL SEE your boss dance at your work party and it will feel a little like the first time you heard your parents having sex. Later in the evening, someone will start talking to you as though you are already acquainted. You will have no idea who they are or what their name is. Even later in the evening, a very drunk colleague will try to get you to wear a pair of flashing reindeer ears. Work parties are like childbirth - we forget how much they hurt.
THE BAD WEATHER will lead you to sack off Pilates (again) and put the fire on instead. Before you know it you've opened the selection box that you bought for your nephew and decapitated the chocolate Santa you bought for your neighbour.
YOU WILL CONSIDER asking for a divorce as you and your better half try to push the Christmas tree through the front door. Watch mammy's good lamp! Left! Right! Push! Oh, and it'll probably be too tall for a star topper...
YOU WILL HAVE a meltdown in the fruit and veg section. The Nigella Lawson recipe requires two star anise; the Jamie Oliver recipe requires half a celeriac. The shelf stacker points you towards the hardware aisle.
DESPITE YOUR VERY best intentions, you will buy at least one gift voucher in an 11th-hour dash on Christmas Eve. As for your plan to present your nearest and dearest with beautifully wrapped homemade cookies... maybe next year.
YOU WILL HAVE absolutely no idea what to buy your work Kris Kindle, your mother-in-law and your son's teacher.
YOU WILL FORGET to Google "how to open champagne without making a mess" and once again spray it all over the salmon canapés, your mother-in-law's handbag and Ruadhri's lovely jumper.
YOU WILL ONCE again discover that you don't have enough chairs to go around the dining table. Instead, you'll improvise with the piano bench and a folding garden chair.
Is there a god? What is consciousness? How long does it take to cook a Christmas turkey? Eternal questions to which we may never know the answer.
YOU WILL BUY another sparkly 'party dress' despite only wearing the one you bought last year once. (Contrary to popular belief, women are not required by law to purchase an item of clothing embellished with sequins, rhinestones or seed beads every December.)
…AND YOU WILL conveniently forget that January is a five-week month when you pass over your Visa card to pay for it.
NO MATTER WHAT direction you give the hairdresser, you will leave the salon with a curly blowdry.
THE LEFTOVER WRAPPING paper and ribbon that you prudently stored away last year never gets reused.
THERE ARE THREE simple rules regarding alcohol consumption during the festive season: Don't drink before the office Christmas party; give yourself a few alcohol-free nights and go easy on Christmas Eve. You will disregard every single one of them.
DON WE NOW our days of peril? Don we now our day old herald? The correct lyrics are in fact 'Don we now our gay apparel', but why break with tradition at this point?
YOU WILL TELL everyone that you're going to escape the madness and go away for Christmas next year. Nobody tells you that you've been saying the same thing for almost a decade.
THERE IS never enough gravy.
THERE ARE never enough batteries.