Posted by / Category Cultural Differences, London /

In France, Christmas is a mainly a family affair. In London, Christmas is nothing less than a winter social season. I am already exhausted and it has barely started. I keep hearing things like “Can you believe it? It’s already Christmas. Oh, I love Christmas!”.  Am I allowed to say that I can’t wait for it to be over?

First of all, I am all over the place. There are Christmas fairs, Christmas balls, Christmas plays, Christmas drinks and Christmas dinners. It never stops and I have to organise everything of course. “But Christmas is all about magic! It is the spirit that matters!”. Right, the thing is, I have to organise all the tricks, and drive everybody all over London to various parties. I don’ t see the magic of it at all. I just see that it is expensive and incredibly time-consuming. And I am already exhausted.


I will do most of my shopping on the Internet. We might spend a few days in France. Things will not be any easier over there as my parents are divorced and will want me to spend the exact same amount of time with each of them. No family dinner for us –they still don’t talk to each other. It will be tricky. They divorced 15 years ago, but some things never change. Maybe I should stay in London and take it easy. I am tired of trying to be a dutiful daughter of parents who behave like playground bullies.

To make matters even worse, I feel like an old fart. Everybody but me is happy about the Christmas season.  I went to see my daughter’s school play yesterday. I was looking forward to an evening with my teenage daughter. Silly old me. The play was great, but my daughter dropped me like an old sock as soon as she saw her friends. I had saved a seat next to me for her. She came, she sat, and off she went to sit with her friends (without me of course). My only role was, in fact, to pay for the show, drive her there and take her back. Lovely.

So here is my question today. As I am French, do you think that I should go on Christmas strike? Should I stop the parties, relax, and skip Christmas altogether? That would be a treat!
Muriel – A French Yummy Mummy In London
  • MultiLayerMummy

    I don’t get the blues about Christmas but I don’t enjoy it at all for a lot of personal reason not unlike yours, love new year though! If I didn’t have the 3 year old I probably would sleep thru Christmas 🙂 Lovely to meet you yesterday.

  • Carol

    I always thought that the French celebrated on Epiphany? No?

  • AnnMullen

    I have always felt tense around Christmas. All I ever wanted was a chance to celebrate the day set aside as the day Jesus was born. Instead there was all the stuff you mentioned. I was also the only adult doing the gift thing in our family. I even had to pick out things for my ex-husbands co-horts. I didn’t knew these guys. I only relaxed Christmas Day after the kids got their gifts and dinner was over. I also began leaving myself something in my stocking since Santa didn’t stop at mine if I did not. After all the food, stuff etc as over, I took a long winter’s nap to reboot.

    Things are different now that it is just me and my sister although she always wants to bury us both in gifts. In fact it is just a little bit lonely, but I really don’t miss the other except for the family aspect.

  • CARO NESS

    Why don’t you tell everyone that you are going to France for a week and then just stay at home and chill? (After stocking up well with essentials so you avoid being seen in the local supermarket!)

  • Rohit Trilokekar

    I concur with SuraeStein Muriel.. do what makes you happy.. if that means sitting cooped up all alone with a mug of hot chocolate, then by all means, just do it! Cos ‘LIFE”s a festival, really, all of it. For me, EVERYDAY is Christmas. AND Diwali.. etcetera 🙂

  • SarahHague

    Fix your priorities and stick to them. You don’t have to go to France for Christmas. Tell you parents you want to stay in London and you’ll see them another time. They could always come to you… That would test their motivation to see their daughter!

  • If only I could…I would curl up in bed and do nothing!

  • I know for a fact that they won’t come. They always find themselves lots of excuses (they can’t travel, we are supposed to come to them for Xmas, etc…). I can’t take it any more and I don’t see any easy way out!

  • Well, I wish I could, Rohit, I really do. I try to do things I like but, sometimes, we all have to do stuff we like a bit less, right?

  • I am thinking of having a last minute diplomatic illness and skip the whole thing.

  • I know. It is a lose-lose situation, right?

  • You are ahead of me. I didn’t like being ditched but I suppose that I have to get used to it. As for the organisation, I will take it easy. easier said than done…

  • It is nice of you to give Xmas presents. Personally, I think that religions should enhance life and help us to be more tolerant. It looks like that’s exactly what you are doing!

  • Are you sure that you are not French?

  • Same here. I am looking for a nice Xmas service and to me, even if i am not very religious, that’s what Xmas is about, not all the rest.

  • Well, they certainly should…

  • Lovely to meet you too! I can’t believe that the Christmas season is already in full swing! As for sleep, well, we never get enough of it, right? That’s what being a mum is about!

  • I can relate to your exhaustion Muriel. I have been doing my online shopping for days now and I still feel overwhelmed and stressed out. That said, Christmas is my favorite holiday and I spend the whole year looking forward to it! I hope you will find enough energy and joyful things to liven you up and help you make it through the end of the year! Hang in there 🙂