Thursday, December 12, 2013

Social conventions are stupid

I find December a hard month to get through. Primarily, this is because I am quite introverted and December involves a level of socialisation that I find difficult to cope with. It’s like there’s this unwritten rule that it is absolutely vital to see every single person in you know Before Christmas, as if 25 December is some magical date that, if you haven’t renewed your friendship vows by, they will be declared null and void and your personal relationship will be irrevocably harmed. (As a side note, I feel exactly the same way about hen’s dos. After the wedding, the bride will still live in the same house with the same partner working in the same job as she did before the wedding. The only difference is that after the wedding they will have dropped the equivalent cost of a three-month trip in Europe on a really big party. Ironically, it’s childbirth that really changes the rules of friendships and with pregnancy there’s sadly not the chance for one big last messy night out.)

To be able deal with everything that is required of me in December, in the past I have approached it like a military exercise. I write a list of people I need to see and book them early with dates, places and times. I write a list of people I need to write cards for and have the cards written ready to be posted on 1 December. I write a list of people I need to buy presents for and have the presents ready and wrapped as soon as I can. I do everything in my power to make everything run as smoothly as possible. I am like a well-oiled well-run Christmas machine, making Christmas happen with a precision rarely seen outside a Swiss watch factory or the German railway system. There’s no room for flexibility but I get shit done. 

This leads me to the secondary reason I have trouble with December: it makes people go crazy. I start being involved in hour-long discussions of how to deal with the fact that Auntie Doris doesn’t like turkey but Uncle Mike thinks it’s not Christmas unless there’s a full turkey dinner. A reasonable answer would be to ask each person to bring a dish that they’re happy with eating (and, maybe if Uncle Mike realised what an effort it is to make a moist delicious turkey he wouldn’t be quite so fussy about wanting one every single year) but instead there’s drama that usually involves the person hosting cooking two or three different meals to appease each of the four people attending dinner. People spend too much money on presents and then get upset about the presents they do or don’t receive. They drink too much and have fights with their partner about who agreed to be the designated driver and who just can’t control themselves around an open bottle of sparkling wine. It’s exhausting.

Part of the Christmas preparation for me is the making of Christmas gifts. I’ve embarked on different projects over the years: knitting everyone in my family a pair of socks; knitting just some a pair of socks and, this year, knitting two pairs of socks. But I don’t know if it’s because of the unseasonally cold weather or just general end-of-year tiredness, this year I have less tolerance for the Christmas drama (I don’t care if there’s chicken instead of turkey. I don’t care if you order pizzas! It’s about the company, not the food. And, if you insist on cooking the whole meal yourself and not accepting any offers of help and not allowing anyone else to bring any food, I do not want to hear one single word about being a martyr to the family. Not one.).  In a first since I have started knitting as an adult, this year I have absolutely no desire to knit gifts for anyone else. So, instead of working on the socks I was planning to give away, I have worked on nothing other than this:

Isn't it gorgeous? It's an Op Art knitted in Luxury 8ply in Sunflower and Purple Storm. 

The pattern is super simple - one knitted row followed by one purl row, changing colours as required. Rinse and repeat until the blanket is the desired size or the wool has run out. Stress free, cheerful and soft to the touch, this is exactly the project the doctor ordered. With the aid of this blanket, I might just be able to make it through the month...


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