I started out feeling moderately organised for this Christmas. I'd even bought my first Christmas present in October, which is unheard of for me. We made a plan to spend Christmas at the family cottage in the Lake District, and thus also be able to visit the Northern BearFamily on the way there. Or back. Or both.
This all seems remarkably splendid and well-planned.
Except... reality is now beginning to bite. For one thing there's the reality that I intend to spend five days at Christmas in a cottage with no heating. And in winter it's not uncommon for the electricity to get cut off by falling trees or other natural disasters. And the nature of the pump that brings water into the area is that if the electricity fails, approximately 24 hours later the tank on the hillside is finally empty and there's no water either. Admittedly it probably won't happen like that, but there's still that whole heating thing.
And then there's the food. By a quirk of incompetence, I failed to get a grocery order booked in time, and there are no slots available. So I'm left with two options: take the food with us, or try and buy it on the way. On the 23rd December. You can stop laughing now. We're taking the food with us. And the bedding, towels, thermals, waterproofs, walking boots, Christmas tree, decorations, advent calendars, presents, toys, games, books, computers and all other forms of entertainment, heat and happiness. In a small hatchback. No, really, I said you could stop laughing.
I've been offered the loan of a roof box for my car, which sort of seems like a good idea, but also feels like an admission of failure, as there are only two and half of us, and it's only five days. And I'd need to buy and fit roof bars to my car to be able to use the roof box. I made an appointment to have roof bars fitted at the local motoring emporium tomorrow morning.
But then... we hummed and hah-ed about the point of spending £145 just in case we couldn't fit everything in, and decided to cancel the order. We can deposit presents and some clothes at Grandma and GrandadBear's house on the way north, replace the space they were occupying with food, and continue, with potatoes in our laps if necessary, for the last 84 miles. And then, cold, weary, and possibly unwashed, we can return to Grandma and GrandadBear's house for a second wave of Christmas and be reunited with normal clothes and the remaining presents.
There was a moment in the previous paragraph that I skipped lightly over... "decided to cancel the order". Cancelling the order involved phoning the shop. I don't like phoning. I'd already had to speak to them when they phoned me to confirm details and book a fitting time. They'd been so nice, so friendly, so helpful. Wait! What? Surely that would make it easier to phone? You'd think so wouldn't you? But not in my twisted little mind. In my mind, the fact that Nice Man Mike had been so nice meant I would be personally affronting him by cancelling the order. In fact, I was essentially duty-bound to spend £145 I didn't want to spend, just to avoid upsetting Nice Man Mike. And he might turn into Mean Mike if I told him I didn't want his roof bars.
Those of you who have not experienced my battles with phone calls might find it hard to believe that I was on the verge of tears this morning while contemplating making this phone call. And it only got worse, since by the time I'd psyched myself up to do it, I had to leave work, collect LittleBear, deposit cakes at the cake stall, spend an hour and a half at the school Christmas fair (while carrying 37 precious objects for LittleBear) and then get us, and our 37 precious objects home. And then phone the motoring emporium. While LittleBear asked me to watch a battle between a cheetah, a wild dog and a hammerhead shark.
My heart sank.
I explained I needed to cancel an order, as our plans had changed and I no longer needed to carry the heavy load I thought I would need.
"Your husband doesn't have to go on the roof then?" quipped Mike.
"No problem love, I'll cancel that for you."
Just like that. He was still Nice Man Mike. In fact, he could probably do without faffing around fitting roof bars to someone's car on one of the busiest shopping days of the year.
Now I just have to try and plan whether I can buy only foods with nice square edges that will pack into boxes really efficiently. Weetabix, potato waffles and cheese for five days I think.