I really used to enjoy our family Christmases when I was young, but they were fairly low key too. Because of football (which neither of my parents were interested in) we could only ever have one side of the family gathered together at any one time. My mum only had one sister, who only had one child, so we all did our own Christmas dinner and then met with Gran and Grandad (fanatical Manchester United supporters) and auntie, uncle and cousin for a small gathering, taking it in turns to host. Then on Boxing Day we would go to the paternal grandmother's house to spend time with the aunts and uncles and cousins (fanatical Manchester City supporters) on Dad's side of the family. I also enjoyed singing in the choir and playing in the recorder group at the school carol service, always held in Manchester Cathedral.
So far so good.
It was my mother-in-law who ruined Christmas for me because she always expected so much, and we were always such a disappointment. That, plus a period when money was extremely tight while the children were quite small, has made Christmas very stressful for me even though these days we do our own thing. I suppose the stress is like a mild PTSD from the early years of our marriage while my mother-in-law was still alive. Basically at Christmas I just want to spend it quietly with G eating nice food and touching base with the grown up kids and their children via phone calls, or these days a short video call. I just wish local friends wouldn't always ask, "Are you seeing the family/going to visit family at Christmas?" because I always feel that they must think I'm odd when I say no.
I wouldn't want to ignore Christmas totally. It is nice to have something to celebrate in the darkest time of the year. I put up a tiny tree and a few decorations and we have a roast dinner and buy a more expensive than normal bottle of wine, which is lovely. I just don't want to make a big fuss or have a big family gathering. The fact that no one was supposed to be visiting anyone has made this Christmas less stressful.