I’m sitting in the near-dark so that our fairy lights twinkle more brightly. My living room is covered in elves, ornaments, Christmas teddies and Christmas blankets (we have three. Why do we have three? I didn’t buy a single one of them. Are they multiplying in my loft? Actually, that wouldn’t surprise me. Everything either multiplies or disappears in my loft. There is no in-between.) Our Christmas tree is in the bay window, dropping pine needles as I write (my husband is a fervent fan of real trees and refuses to even hear of my buying a false one). My children are high on a combination of excitement, copious amounts of Christmas snack sugar, advent chocolates, and general good cheer. And, to help everything, my three-year-old’s pre-school has shut up shop for the holidays early. Everyday it’s just me and her, filling our days with yet more Christmas shopping and gingerbread baking, counting down the hours until my six-year-old finishes school.
I haven’t written a word in… oh, too long. And if I don’t write for long stretches, I tend to get waspish, antsy, frustrated and snappy. For me, writing is a way of letting out emotion and feelings. And if I can’t write, I get bottled up, which eventually ends in an explosion of bitterness, tears, and resentment, usually directed at my husband (who I love, and who puts up with it because he knows exactly what’s going on in my head).
I have all these ideas in my mind swirling around, and zero time to spend writing them down. Without that morning work session when my daughter is at pre-school, my entire routine is thrown. I don’t get to go for my morning swim or run or yoga session, so that I feel sluggish all day. I don’t get my writing done. I don’t get that time to go over paperwork, or my admin, or anything really. And by the time 9pm rolls around, when I would normally turn on my laptop and work again, I’m too exhausted from having cared for a toddler all day. That, and the fact that this time of year is jam-packed with activities for my family.
Actually, I don’t mind the activities so much. In the last three weeks I’ve been to the theatre with friends (to see ‘A very very very very very dark matter’, which I don’t recommend on account of it being a very WTF? kind of play), a night which ended, as my nights out seem to do, with me cuddling one friend in the back of an Uber at 2am completely inebriated, before getting into bed and waking my husband up to discuss light fittings (I know, I know… but what can I say? He’s a patient man and he indulges me). I’ve been to see my son’s Christmas play not once but THREE times, because as Chairperson of my PTA I need to be there to sell raffle tickets and muster up support (and my son had a solo part this year, and he sang beautifully, a talent he emphatically did not inherit from me). My mother has been to visit and we’ve been into London to look at the Christmas lights, as well as into my local town to finish up shopping for Christmas day. I’ve been to Canterbury to see my nephew sing and play violin in his school orchestra, which was amazing, on account of the orchestra being ultra-talented and also because it was my nephew, who I adore. I’ve been to the RNA London chapter’s Christmas lunch, which was lovely, and I got to sit next to Maggie Sullivan (who has my dream job as resident author for Coronation Street) and hear all about the next book in her series. I also got to speak with Lucinda Lee about the Avengers (harassing poor Fi Harper in the process into seeing the entire MCU series of films) and generally fangirl with her for half-an-hour. I’ve been into London Bridge (my favourite part of the city) to meet with my Best Friend Forever and have noodles and Christmas coffee with her (she’s going back to our hometown in Australia for Christmas so I won’t see her to the New Year now sadly). I’ve also had an impromptu wine and cheese night with my neighbours where I possibly drank a little too much red wine and ate more mince pies than can be good for me.
Rather amazingly, my husband also took me out in this period. He surprised me by texting me in the morning with instructions to ‘glam up’ and meet him in London that afternoon from a particular train. He then met me at Charing Cross, kissing me under the Christmas tree, before taking me out for Mexican food and Margaritas (he knows me too well) to see ‘The Book of Mormon’ (which was irreverent fun and I loved every minute of it).
I still have, unbelievably, a North Pole Tea Party to attend tomorrow, as well as the Year Six Church concert, and then another Christmas party on Friday evening. This weekend I have a visit to Santa booked in, as well as our annual visit to the Pantomime. And then… finally, after what feels like weeks of preparations and parties and visits and decorating and Christmas baking, we have Christmas itself.
I love Christmas Day, but I’ll be glad when January rolls around and we can get back to routine. I’ve outlined my Christmas 2019 and Christmas 2020 novels, and I need- and I mean need- to start writing the 2019 one ASAP.
I know how terribly lucky I am. I have a husband who loves me, two children, a publishing contract, fabulous neighbours and friends (two of whom are a delicious mix of both), and a wonderful family. This Christmas my children will wake to a house full of family and presents under the tree. I already know what my gift is this year: my husband asked me what I wanted, and I said ‘Something French’ (I am a not-so-secret Francophile). So he’s taking me to Paris, for a purpose other than Disneyland, so I can finally see Versailles and the Mona Lisa (I skipped it on my first Paris trip, spending all my allocated time in the Louvre looking at the Etruscan artifacts in the basement (I’m also a not-so-secret Ancient History fan). I’m so, so lucky. I read somewhere once that the cup of gratitude provides the sweetest drink, and I never really understood that. But now, I can definitely say that yes, to be grateful in happiness is definitely sweet.
And I wish the same for everyone else.
Have a holly, jolly Christmas.
With love and gratitude, Sharon.x
P.S And if any of you see me mucking around on Twitter in the New Year instead of writing, set me straight, will you? Please?