It’s that time of year when most people are faced with the dreaded question: “What are we going to do this Christmas?”.
Most couples find themselves torn over whether to spend it with parents orin laws, or on their own in a stress free environment.
For the last three years I have entertained my in-laws Ken and Jan. I have no parents and my 84-year-old Nana Jean is no fan of the festive day. She prefers my brother Adam to take her to McDonalds for a Mcflurry!
Last year we were renting a property in the wilds of Hebden Bridge and my husband Chris and I were totally stressed out with work and trying to sell our home.
Having a house full for Christmas was a welcome distraction, however the same cannot be said for the year before that. The in-laws were at each other’s throats from the moment they arrived.
My father-in-law was especially upset because my mother-in-law hadn’t bought him a Christmas gift. In the end hubby had to step in and tell them to stop arguing. Cue lots of awkward silences and lots of ‘never again Chris’ conversations.
This year we were looking forward to a quiet one – just us three. Surely Chris’s sister will entertain Ken and Jan this year...No. His parents just took it for granted that they would be spending Christmas with us for the fourth time in a row.
It is such a difficult situation because I love them like they were my own parents. They come and stay with us a lot and if it wasn’t for them I would never have been able to take some of the jobs I have done in the past.
They love my daughter Ava-Lilly so much and they are great with her. Chris’s dad always does my housework and Jan does my washing and ironing. I’m incredibly lucky; although I do have to point out that because they live in the West Midlands they do live with us when they come to stay, which can sometimes be for a fortnight.
Our thinking behind spending Christmas Day alone is as follows: It’s nice to think we won’t have to cook a lot of food, it’s nice to think we can all stay in our pj’s all day if we want to.
Chris’s parents aren’t getting any younger, they are in their 70s and a big part of me feels that I should put my selfish feelings to one side and just have them with us.
Chris is a typical man, he just grumbles and leaves the final decision to me. He quite fancies Christmas being just us three but then he also feels we have a duty of care to them.
I know when the time comes and they are no longer with us I will miss them more than anything. Ken especially is like the father I never had; he cleans out my car for me, de-ices my windows and is always on the other end of the phone when I need cheering up.
Jan always has wise words for difficult situations and I will never forget how she helped me when my daughter was born. I went through a hellish time trying to breast feed her and she was there for me throughout it all.
I owe them an awful lot.
Christmas can be such a lonely time for so many people. I think the majority of us take it for granted, me included, that we have our loved ones to spend it with.
It’s hard to imagine what it’s like for so many who don’t have anyone to open presents, eat turkey and watch terrible TV with.
If you have parents that love you and would do anything for you then you’re extremely lucky. I think about when Ava-Lilly is grown up and how I would be devastated if she didn’t want to spend Christmas day with me.
I read something the other day that said if there is a lot of noise in your home, feel lucky because that means there are people in your life.
Perhaps I need to remember that when making this decision.
A GLIMPSE OF RETIRED LIFE
After a week off work with my husband, I’m petrified about what life will be like when we both retire.
I spent the majority of the week picking up after him. You could never lose Chris, there would always be a trail to follow. He planned to sand the floorboards in the living room and varnish it ‘It’ll take a day Kel, no worries’…Three days later he is still at it.
Over the course of the week I’ve heard a lot of ‘I just need a quick break’, ‘I’m not actually feeling so well, you couldn’t make me a coffee could you?’ If he were a hired workman he’d be fired.
The only way I know how to jolt him back on the job is to go along with him. ‘Aww you’re not feeling well, take a rest, have a nap.
You’re nearly 50 now love, you’re not going to be able to do the same as a younger bloke’. That gets him moving!
Don’t get me wrong, I do love spending time with Chris. I just don’t love being in the house with him when he’s supposed to be doing jobs!
PLEASE HELP TO MAKE A CHILD’S CHRISTMAS SPECIAL
I’m a big believer in charity especially ones that help children or animals. I always try to do my bit and one charity I’m very proud to be part of is Radio Aire’s Cash For Kids, which every year launches Mission Christmas, aiming to make sure every child across Leeds and West Yorkshire wakes up to a gift on Christmas Day.
It’s hard to imagine that there are thousands of children on our doorstep who wake up to nothing from Santa. As a mum I feel devastated that poverty of this extent exists in modern day Britain and I feel very strongly that we have to join forces and change this.
We recently had the pleasure of Yorkshire actress Natalie Anderson coming on board as a patron. Bless her, she came into Radio Aire with a big bag of gifts to donate. As a mother herself she told us she was heartbroken to think that there are kids in Leeds who don’t get to enjoy Christmas.
So far this year Cash For Kids has already received applications to help more than 15,000 families and we can’t do it without you. If you could donate just one gift to our campaign you will be making such a difference to a child’s life in Leeds and West Yorkshire. We are currently struggling on gifts for babies and teenagers.
You can drop the gifts off at Radio Aire – our lovely Cash For Kids team will greet you at reception - or any of the shops at Crown Point in Leeds.
Please visit www.radaire.co.uk/mission to get involved or text AIRE to 70808 to donate.