Christmas: the highs and lows

Christmas header

So in case you have been living in a cave for the past six weeks (or should that be three months), you may have noticed that the festive season is upon us. It’s a time of cheer. It’s a time of stress. It’s a time of magic. It’s a time of pressure.
Some people love it, some people hate it.

I think most of the magic went out of it for me the year my mum decided my sister and I were too old for Christmas stockings. I think it was the huge amount and variety of interesting little bits and bobs she sourced for us that made it exciting – and I fully appreciate now just how much effort went into that.

Then family get togethers began to fall by the wayside with my aunt & uncle and cousins – another tradition gone.

Nowadays I’m supposed to be doing what my Mum did before me – being at the heart of everything, baking and cooking up a storm, welcoming extended family into my cosy, beautifully decorated home and dishing out the magic.
But I’m not. I don’t feel like my home is good enough to invite people round. I’m not confident about entertaining or cooking a big meal. In short I feel like I have somehow never managed to make the transition from being the child to being the adult – the matriarch, the one who can be relied upon no matter what.

The one thing I can do is focus on the children – make sure that they have all the necessary ingredients for a magical, memorable day and, in that way, I don’t feel like so much of a failure. And who knows, in a few years time when the toddler factor is no longer an issue may be I’ll learn to be that hostess with the mostest.

In the meantime here is a round up of the highs so far this year:

  • Taking the boys to visit Santa at Osterley House.
  • Decorating the first real tree we’ve ever had as a family.
  • Sourcing and creating several different Mason’ jar gifts.
  • My annual solo Christmas shop including charity cards and stocking fillers.
  • Reading Christmas stories to the boys
  • Attending JJ’s first ‘big school’ nativity and school Christmas church service.
  • Enjoying the seasonal flavours at Costa.
  • Looking forward to celebrating with my family and seeing the children’s faces on Christmas morning.

Is there anyone else out there who has hit proper adulthood, got a family of their own, but still doesn’t feel ready to become the ‘matriarch’? When I talk to other people and read their blogs I feel like I am the only person out there to still have a phobia about taking on this role…



24 thoughts on “Christmas: the highs and lows

    • I think the festive highs all happened before the lurgy kicked in! I now feel very jaded about the whole thing, a bit sick and just want to sit or lie in a darkened room and not have any expectations on me at all!! Not going to happen though and at any rate over-ridden by the desire to keep the magic alive for the boys. Xxx

  1. I want to be the Matriarch if I’m honest, my house just isn’t big enough! I love the cooking and hosting and it would actually save me a hassle each year having to flit from house to house and feeling like Nomads! But at the same time, I have never really felt like a proper grown up, I often feel like I’m just playing at it!! xxx
    Potty Mouthed Mummy recently posted…Nearly | Word of the WeekMy Profile

    • I’d love to be an efficient matriarch too but its just not me! I can see that it is you because you love all your kitchen time and feeding everyone up with delicious food! Plus you have a very respectable, attractive home which helps! I quite like having places to go. If we’re just stuck around the house it feels like the boys start getting on each other’s nerves and it becomes one big refereeing session! We are fortunate to be going to my in-laws on Christmas Day (10-15 minute drive away), my Mum & Dad’s on Boxing Day (40 minute drive away) and then staying the weekend of 27/28 in Salisbury with my sister & brother in law and their boys (an hour’s drive away). It will keep us all distracted and I won’t have to do any cooking hopefully!! 🙂 I wonder if we all feel like we are playing at adulthood. Following the motions of our elders who have gone before us but maybe feeling a bit unsure of how we’re actually doing… Xx

  2. I’m not remotely a matriarch! In fact, in my family, my grandparents still host Christmas dinner and we drive for 100 miles to get there! They’re in their late 80’s and early 90’s so the whole family chips in to cook various dishes so they don’t have to do much more than beam happily at us all but even so, at 37, with three kids I have never, ever made a Christmas dinner. I rarely host parties either. I tend to do a bit of Christmas baking with my boys and do love putting up sparkly lights around my house and lighting Christmas candles but that’s it. I definitely haven’t transitioned to being ‘the hostess with the mostess’ – you are not alone! I hope you have a wonderful Christmas and don’t put pressure on yourself, it sounds like you’re doing everything right in terms of making happy Christmas memories for your boys. xx #Theprompt
    Maddy@writingbubble recently posted…festive limericksMy Profile

    • So glad to read this Maddy! I was starting to feel like the only one who still relies on ‘the olds’! And a 100-mile drive is pretty darned impressive! The idea of everyone chipping in is lovely. I actually wish that either my Mum or MIL would just assign me a task because I’m just really rubbish at disturbing the status quo! Strangely I did actually cook Christmas dinner for me the husband, his mum and dad and my step daughter about 6 years ago before having my boys. It was a tight squeeze getting us all into our kitchen and still be able to have room to open the oven! (Our ‘dining’ room was then and is still unusable simply because there is so much clutter in there and baby equipment that we need to get rid of, plus it is badly lit with our next door neighbour’s wall three feet away from the side window and a back porch making it very dark inside. We desperately need to sort that room out in 2015. Maybe I will do a little festive baking on Christmas Eve with the kids, after all we need a mince pie to leave out for Santa! Thanks for commenting hon and have a wonderful Christmas with your family Xxx

    • Ha ha John! You could do a total Mrs Doubtfire! Once again I’m glad to hear that I’m not the only one who doesn’t feel like a fully fledged adult despite my age and position in life!!

    • You’re probably right Tracey. I definitely agree that the only bit that really matters is how magical the children find it. EJ is a bit too young to properly understand the ‘magic’ side of it, but I’m really trying to build the excitement for JJ! Merry Christmas Xx

  3. I do like hosting events, but for me, Christmas Day is all about our little family (and my mum!) and that suits me. As a vegetarian, I have never roasted a chicken, much less a turkey and I used to cheat with M&S stick it the oven stuff when we were in the UK 🙂 It’s a bit trickier here… I think we put far too much pressure on ourselves to be a ‘perfect’ hostess at Christmas, but the important thing is the kids and making sure they enjoy the day, everything else is just nice-to-have. I’m trying very hard this year to just step back from it all, and I fully expect my husband to make Christmas dinner this year 🙂 I hope you have a wonderful Christmas Sam, and thank you so much for sharing with #ThePrompt xx
    PS. I still feel like I am playing at being an adult… I wonder if that ever changes?!
    Sara (@mumturnedmom) recently posted…Word of the Week: ReliefMy Profile

    • Thanks Sara – I think that you have a huge amount on your hands with one extra child and being in another country and then Thanksgiving taking up so much of the time that we in the UK are already using to get a jump on Christmas! But yes, as long as the kids get their magic experience and everyone is together that’s the main thing for sure. Xx PS I’m surprised to read that you feel like you’re playing at being an adult – you have a proper profession, you’ve done some incredibly grown up things like moving your family to America! I guess we’re all the same when it comes to the self-doubt!

  4. I’ve not got a phobia about it, but equally, I’m not doing it! We still go to my mum’s or the Husband’s mums each year, and there’s no sign of that changing for a while, so we can continue to revel in our youth! So no, no cooking for me or hosting, I can concentrate on the kids enjoying every second of it, and I do think that’s the best way with the toddler years!! x
    The Reading Residence recently posted…Word of the Week – 19/12/14My Profile

    • I’m happy to hear that we’re not the only ones who have this arrangement where we get our parents to cater for us at Christmas 🙂 I think you definitely deserve to let someone else do the planning and fulfillment of Christmas Day after the amazing amount of planning and organisation you put into the rest of you year! X

  5. I’m not matriachal either. Can’t organise my way out of a paper bag and still have nothing for the Other half (he’s so awkward.) Free dinners with parents and grandparents are the way forward. Christmas is about making memories and magic and you’re doing that brilliantly xx
    Chrissie (@rantybeast) recently posted…The Prompt – NativityMy Profile

  6. I’m jealous of you lot, as I have been hostess for years. I used to take the role very seriously, going to loads of trouble to plan menus, table settings etc. then as the family grew, I did less and less, turning eventually to m and s for pre prepared everything. I can’t do that anymore as everything has to be dairy and wheat free, but it’s not too bad. There will be ten of us and I know how much it means to the kids to spend Christmas day at home, so it’s worth it for their sakes.
    Nicola Young recently posted…It’s ChriiisstmaaasMy Profile

    • Wow. Yeah I guess we are lucky to have mums who are still prepared to do all the hard work for us, bless ’em! I love a great big family gathering. There will be seven of us on Christmas Day and ten of us on Boxing Day. Have a fab Christmas Xx

  7. I completely see your point of view about doubting your own hosting skills. It stresses me out no end too! Some people are just born to cook and host, not me. The planning and organising stresses me out. I am with you about making it a magical time for the kids. That is most important as far as I am concerned. Hope you and yours have lovely Christmas and a wonderful New Year. xx #theprompt
    VaiChin @RamblingThroughParenthood recently posted…School Run Colours #5My Profile

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