What I Learned About Christmas Last Year

Why Christmas doesn't have to be about excess and expense.

The lights are on. Trees are glowing in windows. The chain coffee shops have rolled out their festive syrups, the shops are filled with red and white tat and Slade is blaring down the aisles.

Christmas season is well and truly upon us.

And this year I'm feeling it.

This year I'm feeling impatient for my baby's first Christmas. Even though she's too young to care about reindeer or to sit through the panto or to covet expensive plastic toys and believe that Santa might bring them for her.

Christmas isn't about any of that. Not really.

Last year, my Christmas was extremely restrained. Not by choice but by circumstance. Pregnancy prevented me drinking, a broken aerial cancelled the TV specials and - most of all - pelvic girdle pain kept me from festive activities.

I was in pain. I was in so much pain I could barely walk across the flat, never mind hop a bus into town and prance around the craft fairs, skate around the ice rink or jostle around the shops. Sitting through the panto, a carol concert or any of the classic festive films (Die Hard, Gremlins, A Muppet Christmas Carol) at the cinema was out. I couldn't climb a ladder to hang decorations.

But, still, I felt the Christmas spirit.

Why I prefer a low key Christmas.

I made a Christmas tree out of cardboard; we invited a friend round and put thought into his stocking; we cleared all the crap off the dining table in preparation for Steve cooking us all a feast.

Our low key Christmas was as nice as could be.

We watched Father Ted, as per our friend's family tradition. We watched a video of a fireplace and howled every time the subtitles flashed up: CRACKLING. We played music and games and talked and talked and talked.

We talked a lot about creating traditions for the baby.

Not traditions centred around spending hundreds of pounds on fancy gifts; traditions which centre around spending time together, breathing in the crisp winter air, cosying up indoors, watching silly films and reading books and eating something special.

We want room in our Christmas for friends and family to spend time with us, on those years they want to.

Because if last year taught me anything it's that Christmas doesn't have to be about the spectacle or the build up or the drinks or the expense. It's about spending time in the company of people you care about, eating well and talking about the things which matter most.

Novelty jumpers optional.