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Mama Said: Can we just chill about Christmas?

Imagine if we all chilled out about Christmas? Emily Martin wonders what’s the worst that could happen?

Can we just chill out about Christmas this year? Please? (60925109)
Can we just chill out about Christmas this year? Please? (60925109)

Kids, especially the current batch, are the world’s most adaptable creatures, having cheerfully survived everything from a pandemic to the hottest ever recorded day. They are experts in swerving shovelfuls of daily doom and just carrying on being their wonderful little selves.

As Christmas looms and all the adults worry about how they’ll pay their bills, as well as stocking the cupboards with biscuits and Baileys and stuffing the stockings with chocolates and toys, I’m begging you, please, can we have two minutes to chat before it all starts?

I’m worried about money all the time. I think in pounds and pence. If I have to top up my big shop with an unforeseen £14 spend at Tesco Express to buy four stupid things, I truly hate myself. Spending £14 in Tesco Express feels as wasteful as taking a private jet to work. Although, I’ve been commuting to Cambridge Station lately and parking there costs the same as a jet, pretty much. Unacceptable.

According to YouGov last year, the average UK adult was predicted to have spent £1,108 over the Christmas period and that’s probably true, although I can’t believe it. I certainly don’t have £1,108 ready to go for this year.

I watched the Martin Lewis Money Show the other night and it was all about where might be the best place for us to keep our savings during these unprecedented times. Sorry, Martin, keep our what? Everyone I know just lives month to month and somehow can just about scrape together £500 for their car to pass its MOT. And that’s usually by borrowing from parents and overdrafts.

We might get a little summer holiday if we pay for it monthly across the whole entire year. Or if our parents pay for the accommodation (and come with us). And I know for an absolute fact that having a working car and going on holiday this year makes my family one of the very luckiest ones.

I can’t do a £1,108 Christmas. And loads of people can’t. So here I am, climbing atop this lamppost and yelling towards you, wherever you are reading this, please can we all just chill?

There is absolutely no reason why we can’t completely rebrand Christmas and save ourselves a lot of lovely money to spend on heating and our MOTs and a few nice food bits maybe for a treat. We just have to all chill. But chill one, chill all. And no cheating.

I blame the kids, but it’s not their fault, it’s ours. Absolutely everyone agrees that lots of kids get too much at Christmas, in stark contrast with some of the kids who get too little. But somehow, after we’ve had that chat, armed with £1,108, the average UK adult drives to the shops for a communal panic session, believing that the size of the pile on Christmas morning directly correlates to the magic of the memory it will create.

But it doesn’t. You KNOW it doesn’t if you think of your own favourite Christmas memory. It was never about getting the pile of stuff and it was always about seeing your aunty accidently squeeze Fairy Liquid over the sprouts as they steamed in the sink and swearing at all the tiny children, and your cousin laughing so hard he had to sit on the floor.

Or when your other cousin pushed over the brand new dollhouse and it smashed to a million pieces and everyone stood there in silence until our mums ran in and then one of us started screaming. I don’t remember what the dollhouse looked like before, but I’ll always remember what it looked like smashed.

Let’s agree right now then shall we? Santa can bring one toy and anything extra can be from mum and dad? And we can buy toys from eBay. Or we could do homemade presents. We could do Secret Santa with the family. We could just wrap up bananas for babies (they haven’t got a clue anyway) or buy a load of secondhand books for the toddlers.

Instead of an Amazon voucher we could write a letter to the teacher explaining what it means to us that they’ve taught our child to read this year. The house doesn’t need to be lit from the outside as well as the inside. We don’t need a 6ft tree. We don’t have to be the host of the Christmas drinks. We don’t need a £5 tub of Twiglets or for everyone to be wearing matching pyjamas. Let’s get £5 chickens instead of an £85 turkey.

No one minds. No one cares. We’re here, we’re together. It’s all in your head. May your Christmas Day be merry and bright and may you save £1,108. What a nice way to start 2023 that would be.


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