Thursday, 1 December 2011

Christmas rant/Shopping rant (yes, misery rules)

It would take so long to comment on all the posts I have either missed this week, or have only briefly glanced at on a tiny screen. This makes me feel like I'm not playing by the rules.. Sorry folks. Will try to remedy this very soon.

Where have I been? Everywhere and nowhere.  Trying to be a good PTA* member, failing to be a good PTA member. Trying to be more of a disciplinarian with the boys, failing to be anything but 'soft as shite'. Trying to be more domesticated, less of a lazy dreamer...failing.
Trying, trying, trying to be the type of person who talks about Christmas with enthusiasm FAILING.

I like seeing children smile, who doesn't? That doesn't mean I have to like Christmas. Remember that line as I won't be dwelling on the happy kids side of it again. i hope it goes without saying that my boys like Christmas.

I don't dislike Christmas, I even end up getting into the spirit by about the 22nd.
I like the school concert, but it doesn't make me cry. I'm a bit hard in the 'kids making me cry' department after looking after a girl until her death, who was smashed against a wall by her step father as a baby. She died blind, deaf, epileptic and happy 5 years later. I was 20 and one of my favourite pictures is of me holding her.

I like the Salvation Army band playing in town. I like watching people try to carry  something bigger than them home from town in the heavy rain, face like thunder, full of White Lightening. I like getting  a card addressed To no 17, from no 26. I am having great difficulty adding to this list.

I've been doing a bit of amateur psychology, trying to work out why I can't work up much enthusiasm for special occasions. I conclude; it's spontaneity I thrive on.

I've never liked wearing a watch. I have a reliable body clock, and am punctual. If I'm going out for the day, finding out the train times doesn't come into it. I'll turn up, and a train will arrive on the platform soon after.

Nights out, impromptu - great. Meticulously planned, deposit-paid, "I'm wearing this dress and these shoes" - boring.

Dinner - thrown together by instinct and with little thought - delicious. Military precision dining - no thanks.

Shopping for gifts - awful. Seeing something and thinking "she'd LOVE that" when it's nowhere near her birthday or Christmas - memorable (no, not 'priceless).

My pet hates; plastic toys, gift sets, waste wrapping paper, sickly cheap processed food, warm wines and spirits, grudges, general 'waste', insincerity, ungratefulness, token/thoughtless gifts, vile greetings cards, terrible music, hidden pain, debt, overly wound-up kids (Santa won't come), harassed staff, angry shoppers, grumpy postal staff...

I went to Cardiff with my 12 year old on Wednesday, he's itching to boost his social status with some over-priced leisure wear.

Hollister has arrived in Cardiff, everything about this had escaped my attention. On the train, talk of the queues to get into Hollister was to be heard from every angle. I didn't know what the fuss was about (still don't).

FORTY-FIVE minutes of queuing to get into a shop? No, I didn't do it. Great marketing, but why are adults sucked in? Fair enough the teens, but why would anyone find a shop reeking of artificial flowers, and staffed by underweight pre-pubescent looking androgynous types, an experience worth buying into?

The queue for the shop snaked all around this balustrade:

On to 'Cult' a shop stocking endless racks of overpriced hoodies and t-shirts emblazoned with 'Super-Dry'. I remember the Super-Dry collection about 10 years ago seeming like butch wear for ladies, and camp wear for gents (sorry to generalise).

Now, the Super-Dry jacket and hoodie are a sure way to prove you're a valid member of society. Huge queues in the store, identikit staff, stressed parents and grandparents.
I'm so out of touch with shopping. I think £10 is a fortune to spend on an a garment. Fifty quid for a zip-up hoodie? No  joke.

I did succumb though, I remember a brief period of wanting to fit in. Followed closely by a period of wanting to look totally unique, all second-hand or customised clothes from the age of 14 to the present day. I looked a total idiot most of the time, but the courage I had then, I miss. If my son wants to be a clone, he can be one. That's what he wants for Christmas.

On the way back, I stopped at just one charity shop, it was painful walking past the next 3. "Mum, you are the only one out of all my friends' mothers who dresses like an old lady". I bought a naff jumper, I will model it soon. It IS an old lady jumper - shame on me. My poor, embarrassed boy.

The guy who served me was pleasant, natural and funny, unlike the other shops. I spent £6 on a  jumper and trousers. Spontaneity ruled. For me.

Tell me what I'm missing.

Merry Bloody Christmas!

* PTA = parent/teacher association


  1. I hate crowds too. I did some Christmas shopping online for my youngest son yesterday. He wants cool FreeGun boxers, a subscription to a BMX magazine (ANYTHING to get him reading, I say!!) and handles for his kickback scooter.

    I will brave the Xmas market in town tomorrow to get glacé fruit for my mother, and have some mulled wine (better go near lunch time... or tea time), but I will avoid toy shops like the plague.

    I don't 'hate' Christmas either, but I loathe the hype, the expectations, the cost and the crowds. It also comes at a time of year when everyone is knackered, suffering from vitamin D deficiency so every effort needs three times the energy it would normally take.

  2. I am with you all the way! I actually nodded off during one school play when both my sons were getting fed up in the back row of the choir! Many other mothers never forgave me. I loathe all the months of planning leading up to 'the big day' it totally does my head in.
    I also think it is our duty to embarrass our sons. I do it all the

  3. Oh Lucy. I can identify with every single point you have raised.

    Christmas is tedious and a joyless occasion for me. Something I do because it pleases the family and I like to make them happy. So I put my happy face on. I do like Christmas lunch though - love the grub, yes I do. :)

    I also dressed like a bit of a weirdo as a teenager - anything, ANYTHING to be different and not part of the Great Teen Clone programme. I raided my Grandad's old working wardrobe -wore his faded and stained workshirts over long, ground-sweeping tight skirts and witch boots. This in the early 1980's when leg warmers and frilly short skirts reigned supreme. :)

    So it annoys me that my 14 year old is into labels. The only difference in France is which labels - the kids in his part of the world are dressing like freaking NY rappers/gangsters - Adidas, DC, UnKut etc. Sickening, how much money he spends on branded clothing and shoes. All my words about his individuality and embracing his uniqueness have not penetrated. Oh well.

  4. I hate vile Christmas cards too. Really. I won't display them if they're ugly. And they nearly always are. There I've said it. I probably wont get any this year!

    We put our tree up 12 days before Christmas...I tell my girls that's when you're supposed to put up a Christmas tree, it's tradition etc, their friends have got it all wrong, blah blah blah...they don't believe me, and they're right, I really can't be bothered.

    I'm trying to show some excitement this year, I've got the fruit for our Christmas cake soaking in brandy, that's a step in the right direction, don't you think?

  5. Lucy, you are not alone. I hate Xmas with a passion! I throw a tantrum every year when it's time to put up the Xmas decs (yes, I really do). My partner and daughter decorate the tree (the tiniest tree in the land made of silver tinsel) and I footle around with the decs - only last year I only put a few up (and nobody noticed) and this year I may just put up my plassy bag wreath and that'll be an end to it, I hope.

    As for Xmas shopping, I do it all on Amazon or in charity shops/jumbles. Although I have been buying loads of sweets and chocs for my friends' kids - ooh I am going to be popular...

    Martin Lewis from the has written an excellent article here: on why we should ban Xmas pressies. You should read it. xx

    I can't wait for the 26th when we go away on holiday - yahoo!

  6. I can totally agree on the many points here - I'm not keen on the over commercialised aspects of Christmas like the 'must have' toy or the endless parade of lukewarm sentiment.

    But that aside I do love Christmas. I think for me it started early in life as our Christmases were an excuse to get the entire family (who got on very well) together. So the anticipation of cousins coming to stay, helping Mum with the Christmas baking and wrapping the presents was just immense for me. I think I'm still that way now - I love baking my Christmas staples, choosing gifts (HATE crowds though - online or just local shops/markets for me, no shopping centres!) for everyone (nary a gift set in sight - aside from for the little sis who always gets her favourite perfume from me). I suppose I associate Christmas most of all with food/friends/family and the silly traditions we've built up over the years.

    Christmas tree won't be going up for a while yet though! Too early!!

    Jem xXx

  7. Well, I’m glad you’re OK for a start. I thought you’d run off with Steerforth! I say ‘OK’ but you’re obviously not, although a good rant does help I find. Fortunately I’d never heard of Hollisters and after clicking on your link, I’m as bemused as you. Your son is too young yet to appreciate the value of thrift so charity shops do not appeal to him. This is no reason for you not to indulge this harmless pursuit and it’s good for him to learn that the pennies have to be counted.

  8. I'm glad to see you back in blogland, Lucy, I've missed you.
    Xmas is crap. I can't be doing with it. I go out and have fun all the time, I don't need it forced down my throat.
    I used to joke that if we ever (accidentally) had a kid it would be sod's law that it would turn out to be a label-loving, fashion slave with a passion for manufactured pop music and Steven Seagal films. Hopefully your boy will see the light in a few years time. x

  9. How do you really feel Lucy :) I always love your brutal honesty, so refreshing in a world consumed with bullshit! I'd love to see that favorite picture of you holding that lil angel, what a story that must be and I'd love to hear it over an impromptu happy hour get together, dam the big vast ocean.

    I used to hate Christmas, but I guess I have found a way not too. I love the time off, the lights, getting all bundled up in my favorite winter garb. Buying and giving presents that truly say, I get who you are! I also like reflecting on the year, what I accomplished, what I need to try and do better next year. I just leave out all the stuff I can't stand.

    As far as your son goes, I do think kids just wanna fit in, whatever that might mean, so I do think this will pass over time and no way are you a frumpy dresser compared to other Mom's you sound like the only one with any imagination! I remember being that kid who's Mom could not buy me Vans, Izod or dolphin shorts I had to wear the knock offs, so I think most of us go through that phase. I do think it's getting harder and harder to be an individual in a society that spoon feeds us our every desire. It feels great to finally be grown, confident and care free enough to just be me.

    I think you have a beautiful soul Lucy!

  10. Rant away, love, we're listening! I think there's something about this ridiculously overblown time of year that stirs the ranter in many of us.
    I just popped over to the Hollister website and am still reeling/laughing - soooo expensive! I clicked on dresses - have you seen that little white petticoat-type frock for £130?! My teenage nieces like all that stuff, also Jack Wills (is that right?) which I just find so generic and dull. But not being bothered about trends/labels/fitting in is perhaps a skill which takes time to develop. I'm only just getting the hang of it now, at my advanced age! At 12, I wanted to fit in too.
    If it's any consolation, my daughter said to me "No offence, Mum" (and I admired her attempt to be kind) "but your clothes are really old fashioned". I offered a few choice thoughts on the difference between old and old fashioned, at which her face morphed into a scarey glimpse of her future teenage self...
    Look, if you can't embarrass your kids, what was the point of having them? I consider it compensation for all the hard bloody work!
    Hope the PTA stuff is going OK - just done a coffee morning with ours, I'm QUITE the Moral Mother these days!
    Have a good weekend. Don't go shopping. xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

  11. Aah yes, I know this is true, but...I dunno. I've got myself a reputation as a cynic so I guess my love of Christmas doesn't fit with that, maybe I'll write a rebuttal post ;-)

    It's a genetic tween/teen thing I think - feeling alienated but at the same time wanting to fit in with the herd. Nothing *wrong* with fancying a £50 hoody when you're a kid, but equally nowt wrong with learning that you get nothing else as a result!

  12. i really do think someone ought to open a wet t-shirt charity shop in ponty

  13. I belong to the 'followers that cry' category after reading that paragraph about the little girl you lovingly nursed. Christmas is a weird time, I feel like there is a lack of integrity which comes from working in a christmas shop full of goodies, all being churned out of China for pittance. It somehow takes the shine of in when you imagine the poor people in the factories who don't even celebrate the festival but then we want to be able to 'over do' it, don't we? Good luck with the next few weeks Kat xx

  14. Cann't help saying that most of ur version is too native for me. Of course i understand PTA very much because i am subjected to meeting with parents and face music of those students who have not been doing well on the last Saturday of every month.By the way i thought that the crowd y scenes are the common phenomena of India and China only.

  15. A rather useful website suggested by someone I follow on Twitter for all those trying to persuade you that you should already be decced up and in full swing....

  16. You've just cheered me up :) I haven't been able to read much for the past few days (vertigo) and I'm so glad I got to this, though I don't think I will dare send you a Christmas card any time soon...

  17. I can't believe how much I agreed with every single point you made in this post!

    I know some people who work in Hollister and had the displeasure of meeting some of their vacuous colleagues at a house party last year. One of the girls, in her own words, 'vommed all over the kitchen floor!!!!!!' during the night. It took all of my willpower not to tell her that if she'd eaten something before she came out (or ever) then she most likely wouldn't have 'vommed' anywhere.

  18. Tell your son shopping in charity shops is all the rage and that you are getting his Christmas presents there this year. I do like Christmas but I wish sometimes it was less about presents and more about just kicking back.

  19. Lol Lucy - great post - i did chuckle over Super Dry - we had a store open here about a year ago and it was packed on opening day but now its lost its appeal...primark however is still going strong! I tend to avoid the town centre during december (i am still have flash backs of the chrimbo shopping mania from previous retail employment!) - Im an online shopper and of course the charity shops, which lucky for me are out of the town!
    I must also admit that i do love christmas now ive got my boy...just waiting for him to be old enough to get the whole santa thing. Mwah Scarlett x

  20. I don't think you miss much.

    I refuse to go Christmas shopping - long live the internet

  21. Missing? You're the only sane one (that is, apart from me) in a world gone bananas.
    I love Christmas, because mine is quiet, full of books and lovely food and drink, some decent music (not jingles),
    and it smells good. I have no idea what Christmas shopping is like, I don't do any.

    But I like raving and ranting. I you're looking for a present for me, I'll have some of that.

  22. december the eighth ... must be time for her next rant

  23. she hasn't ranted for weeks ... its like living near a beautiful volcano !

  24. If it's a rant you're after - a rant you will get. Watch this space...

  25. Just popping in to say Hi - haven't seen you out and about much on blogs - and there you are just above this. :) Hope everything is OK.

  26. Amor I love your honesty!
    I totally agree with you, lucky for me no kids yet and your a good Mamacita for joining your son. I would love to see the sweet photo of that little angel. We did most of our Xmas shopping online. I hate the crowds of people too. Well just people,lol
    would love to see a pic of your granny outfit.


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