Too Charming By Kathryn Freeman

Monday, December 23, 2013

Christmas on pause

Most of December seems to fly by on fast forward. November is fine. Shops put out their decorations but I refuse to even think about Christmas. It’s far too early. But then December swoops in and suddenly everything is a mad rush. Where to start? With me it’s usually presents. Buying is easy if you do your shopping on-line, though you have to be careful not to miss those shipping dates. But thinking about what to buy – that’s the tricky part. I try to be clever and pick up things throughout the year. Being a sucker for a bargain I can often be found rummaging through the sale bins, plucking out huge reductions and squirreling them away in a big trunk so when Christmas comes, hey presto. Job done. Of course if doesn’t happen like that. Nieces I’ve bought for then announce actually they’d like something else. Worse, I forget what I’ve got in the trunk, panic, and buy more presents. I have supposed bargains that have been in that trunk for a very long time…

While the panic about presents is on, time is slipping by and those final posting dates are getting ever closer. Friends abroad aren’t going to get their seasonal greeting in time if I don’t pull my finger out and write those Christmas cards. It’s a job I hate with a passion, so I rope all the family in to help. We sit around a table and each sign our names as carols play in the background and Christmas cheer wafts through the house in a warm glow. No, of course that doesn’t happen. We do sit round the table, but I insist on writing a few lines on every card. This results in the others getting bored, cards piling up because the signer has sloped off to play on his game console/computer/phone, cards being put in the wrong envelopes, names missed off. Arguments, wails of frustration (we’re only up to N?), mutiny and threats to never do this ever, ever again. Until I make them next year.

I think I’ve done well. Cards are in the post, the trunk has been rifled through and there are some items that might be suitable. But I’ve forgotten to secure that slot for the on-line grocery order. Agghh. Now everything’s coming on the 19th. Far too early. I’m going to have to join the car park queues to buy the flipping turkey. Too complacent, not enough rush, that’s where I went wrong. Of course I’ve not fought through the loft to get down the decorations yet, or bought my non-drop, ha ha, Christmas tree. The days are all zipping by far too fast. There was a time the children enjoyed decorating the tree. Now they ask me do we have to have a tree? Of course we do.

Why? Because when it comes to now, teetering on the edge of Christmas eve, it’s a time to press pause. To sit with a glass of something mellow next to the twinkling lights of the tree and reflect on what’s important. Anything that’s not been bought by now we didn’t need. Family and friends won’t disown me if they don’t like their squashed, musty smelling present from the bottom of the trunk. Even if I overcook the far too large turkey (there’s not much choice by the time I’ve sat in the car park queue for hours) they’ll still eat it and have a laugh. To me, this time of year is about being grateful for what you have. Looking back and seeing what you’ve achieved. Looking forward and making plans for the next venture. It might be as simple as a holiday or as big as a career change or a house move.

When I paused at this time three years ago, I made a decision to leave my job in the pharmaceutical industry and pursue a long held wish to write romantic fiction. As you’re reading this, I will be proudly reflecting on my first and second book contracts with Choc Lit this year. It sounds so simple, but behind that one sentence is years of highs and lows, of daring to dream and being lucky enough to have the support to pursue it. My New Year resolution has always been (for as long as I can remember) to get a book published. With Too Charming out this year and Do Opposites Attract coming out next year, I’m going to have to find a new resolution!

I hope you have time to pause and look back on your year. And make plans for the next one. What might they be?

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