As you may know from my previous posts, December is always a busy time for me and my family. It’s because we are involved with both a brass band and church, and this time of year represents about 90% of our activity for the year at both of those things.
I always have a bit of a downer around Remembrance time and I’ve sussed out this year it’s because I dread the upcoming rush of December. My body and my mind go into this kind of weird spasm where it shuts down and I just end up crying and moaning about how much I’ve got to get done in December and how I’m never going to do it – and that’s before I even start thinking about family stuff like decorating the house and buying presents!
This year was no different. Well, it was a tad bit different in that my “downer” was worse than usual. It was more profound and lasted longer than usual, which is annoying because for the first time ever I’d worked out what my annual problem was but was confounded by the depth and duration of this spell.
It was also a tad different because I managed to successfully work my way out of before the hectic run began. Sometimes, I only manage to shake off the depressive state as it’s getting towards the end of things and family time can take over, so it was a relief to find that I could start the December run with a more-or-less straightened head.
Let me give you a few examples of the things I’ve been juggling with these past two weeks – and please bear in mind that there is not even an Advent calendar up in this house yet let alone a sprig of holly or a sniff of a Christmas tree!
We had our first band concert on Friday night which as conductor I had to choose the programme, sort out the running order for the band, notify the church of the carols we intended to sing, organise a bass section, work out a bit of banter for the audience, print off a set of cards for the audience to hold up while we did the 12 days of Christmas song whilst controlling my nerves at talking to the audience (I don’t like doing that bit…they scare me!)
I’ve been invigilating for a week for Year 11 mock GCSE exams, which has meant many hours standing still supervising 15 and 16 year olds while they sit their exams. It’s easy money, but it wears me down when I think about all the other stuff I could be doing with all that time!
We had our Christmas Fair on Saturday (the day after the concert) and I was running the kitchen with my friend Steph. We cooked two batches of soup from scratch as well as served bacon butties and sausage butties to more than 100 people over the course of 3 hours. We started at about 9.30am and we finally cleared the kitchen and cleaned down by about 3pm on Saturday afternoon. Prior to that we had to do the shopping – I squeezed mine in between finishing work on Friday and dashing up to the church hall to help set up for the Fair before dashing up to Todmorden for the concert.
Ethan has had three concerts with the Music Centre over the past week, so that has been a masterpiece of logistical skills getting him to Bury and Radcliffe on time, and I had a Music Group session at church on Thursday which involved me arranging four new hymns, putting words on PowerPoint screens for others, breaking in my fingertips so I could play the guitar and re-recording the backing track I’d produced to Candlelight Carol down a tone because the “Gloria” was a bit too high for the sopranos.
In between all of those things I’ve been trying to study – I am a little behind with the schedule which doesn’t matter so much because I can catch up over Christmas, but I had an assignment to do based on material I hadn’t covered and which is due tomorrow at noon. I tell you, it has been a bit of a stretch, but I am so chuffed that I have met my assignment deadline, and I have actually submitted my assignment EARLY!
To be honest, I had no choice because the next round starts tomorrow and I’m in work in the morning and I wouldn’t have had chance to submit it and meet the noon deadline so I’ve got it done and sent it today. I even managed to cover all the material I needed for it too…don’t ask me how!
I am feeling rather pleased with myself that the only thing I accidentally dropped was some music Eddie needed in church this morning. It was easily covered (phew, thank you Eddie!) but I managed to do all the rest of the stuff needed with music and slides and apart from a small mishap on Saturday involving a pan of boiling milk and my hand, everything else has slotted into place beautifully.
I don’t do smug, it’s just not in my nature, so the best way I can describe this feeling is “chuffed to mint balls” (if you’re Northern you’d understand that phrase) and I have to say that I couldn’t have done it without the help of a few people. Top of the list is my husband Kevin who has been a trooper in supporting me whilst I study and write, and he has looked after the meals and laundry all week for me so I can either get my head in a book or have 10 minutes shut-eye before the next thing hit me. Also at the top of the list are my Dad and my friend Phil who between them have managed to run a rather efficient taxi-service for me getting me home from work so I didn’t have to get the bus and waste valuable studying time this week. The Christmas Fair would have been impossible without Steph’s help and companionship. She has got her own hands full with a young family, but she was brilliant in keeping me on track with the preparations and on the day she never stopped working all day. Last but not least is my daughter who has helped me with my essay structure and arguments for this assignment. I did a rather poor job of an academic essay last time so I am extremely grateful to her for getting me back on track with this one. Thanks Em!
And so to end, this past week has been MANIC but the pressure will ease up a bit now and I can start to do the family side of Christmas preparation. And there are no deadlines in the pipeline, which helps!
Oh, hang on a minute…I’ve got phone calls for invitations to a memorial service next week to chase up, names on the screen, music to choose, another concert to plan on Friday night, an OU tutorial on Saturday afternoon, carolling also on Saturday afternoon, presents to make for people, orders to fulfill, work on 2 mornings this week, a funeral, a silver service luncheon to go to (and a quiz to prepare), another concert with Ethan on Tuesday night and my niece Jess is having her hair cut off on Friday for the Teenage Cancer Trust…
A quiet week ahead then!!