At this stage in the game, you are so tired that even caffeine isn’t working any more.
You need a bailiff to come to the door. Then again, a quick glance at the diary is enough to produce the adrenaline spike your spent brain requires. You appear to have made arrangements to go out three nights in a row, as if you’re Lottie Moss. Why? Are you nuts? You haven’t even finished season two of Succession. But you can’t cancel. Cancelling is so 2015. Who knows which of the strung-out mums attending the Year 3 Mum’s Drinks (sic) at the most basic pub in your postcode might be counting on your presence? If everybody cancels, she’ll be sitting there alone. No. You will not be a canceller. You will merely reschedule.
As we come to the grim realisation that there are now only three weeks until Christmas — an event that perennially leaves us as blindsided as Prince Andrew despite it happening on the same day every year — the last week in November is a time of peak postponement. Ping-ping-ping goes the phone as a volley of hastily bashed-out WhatsApps saying, ‘Eeek can we do Tuesday instead?’ and ‘Sorry can we reschedule an hour earlier/a month later/how about never’ arrive. Some friends have ‘flu’. Some have ‘work parties they forgot about’. Others are ‘mentally overloaded’, ‘f***ing exhausted’ or ‘skint’. Try not to take it personally. It isn’t you: it’s them. But also you. It’s all of us. It’s everyone.
It sucks that you work really hard all year and then, just when you get to the fun bit, you collapse in a wailing, knackered, overdrawn, hormonal, mentally challenged, relationship-troubled heap. It shouldn’t be like this. And maybe it doesn’t have to be. If we all stop rearranging our arrangements, our worlds and our heads would be less fraught, guilt-ridden places. I’ll go first. Friends (any that I have left), I promise not to reschedule. Not even for the Succession finale. If I’m putting you before the Roys, believe me you mean a lot to me.
Is your child so obsessed with TikTok/Minecraft that it can’t be arsed to write a Christmas list for Santa because a) it would mean tearing itself away from its screen and b) it doesn’t want anything else anyway, other than a bigger, better screen? In a rare instance of utilising the cultural metropolis in which I live, I’m thinking of buying my kids experiences, not gifts, this year.
You can’t wrap ’em, thus saving on paper, but a season pass to Winter Wonderland, a trapeze lesson at Flying Fantastic or a ticket to see Strictly! Live will prove more memorable than a Christmas jumper, with the added benefit of prying them away from their screens.
I don’t know who needs to hear this but I’ve come up with an innovative way to get drunk for free. Simply find out which chi-chi area of London is having a Christmas lights ceremony, put on your best clothes and head down there, for I guarantee there will be free mulled wine.
No matter that you haven’t banked any money since October, so long as you make an effort to blend in with the locals, they’ll never rumble you for the freeloading desperado you are. As a certified Christmas light whore, I can vouch for the Marylebone lights, the Savile Row lights and Coal Drops Yard lights. Okay, so not all of them were swilling in free booze, but they were very jolly.