2011 will be the first year I'll spend Christmas Day with someone else's family.
I know, I know, my in-laws ARE my family now and all that (not just pleasant aliens who look eerily like my husband) and with such a large and raucous bunch it's going to be a lot of fun. In fact I have been very much looking forward to it. But as the day draws closer, I'm feeling a bit sad about not being with my Mum and step-dad on the 25th.
I'm not even religious, so it really is just A DAY, I have no idea why I'm being sentimental about it. I'm of the age now where everything is in flux, things can't possibly be the same year in, year out. Families grow and drift like tectonic plates, making new continents and islands. This year Christmas will be on a my largest landmass yet (probably China - that's a big one) and I need to go and visit Japan, New Zealand and the Fiji Islands because they're my landmasses too.
In fact I feel compelled to race up and down the motorways every year trying to squish in as much quality time with everyone I like as possible, otherwise I feel I've failed. When Catie and I thought I was going to have to work too much to be able to see her at all over the holidays, we hyperventilated and ended up driving halfway to each other to a pub in the Pennines for dinner, just to check we both still existed. We've been friends since we were 10. It's not Christmas if I haven't seen Catie.
Last year was crazy and I got my come-uppance. I managed 5 Christmases in 4 days (sorry carbon footprint) and ended up wrapped up on the sofa, knackered and ill by the time New Years Eve came round. Now I am married and I have DOUBLED my obligations. Didn't think that one through, did I. WHAT A KNOB.
I don't know what the answer is, I don't know anyone who's got it cracked. You really do need either A. a small and compact immediate family B. Everyone willing to travel to one place, and then have that one poor sod willing to accommodate everyone spilling wine on their carpet and treading on the dog, C. Be rhino-skinned and shut the door to some people or (better yet) everybody or D. Get a job with better holidays.
Does anyone else have this problem? Is it just my sprawling family and annoying work schedule that makes the festive period a logistical brain-melt, or does everyone else get equally stressed?