Thursday, 24 December 2009
I mentioned Christmas traditions in a previous post and while I relish the fun parts of the festive season, I also have some less enjoyable traditions that happen each year, including the packing of the Christmas suitcase...
This is because as I tend to visit Belfast for Christmas and since I go for at least a week, it's not possible just to bring a plastic bag with a toothbrush in it and some spare knickers. Instead it requires the kind of organisation that might cause military planners to have a minor fit. By the time I've negotiated a wardrobe warm enough to cope with the fact Belfast is bollock bloody freezing compared to London, made sure the presents I'm giving won't break mid transit, hope that the presents I'm getting will fit in on the return journey and that the budget airline I'm flying with can't destroy this year's suitcase, you'd think the stress would be over and I could relax with a nice glass of gluhwein instead?
No, because while I love visiting my family at Christmas, I also loathe living out of a suitcase even for a few days. After the guts of a year living out of a suitcase and a large laundry bag on my bag like a gaudy tartan snail in a variety of homeless hostels, living out of a suitcase makes me anxious in ways it is hard to quite explain. I think it's mainly because agoraphobics aren't well known for their love of travel and partly because I have strange notions that not packing the right items for a week away will be the end of the world as we know it. Combine that with the everchanging regulations on suitcase sizes and hand baggage allowances and I need something much stronger than festive booze.
This year's panic is being compounded by the threat of snow over the next few days. Do I have enough warm clothes to suffice? Will they make me look like a bag lady if I layer too drastically? How do I create the maximum number of outfits with the minimum number of pairs of shoes? Will my flight even be able to take off or will I be snowed in and spending Christmas alone in London? Is my tiger print suitcase amazing or the tackiest thing on the carousel?
Normally I'd be sitting the corner rocking back and forth quietly if anyone needed me over the weekend...but this time I decided to drink cheap mulled wine in the afternoon and meet friends for an impromptu meal on Sunday evening, before just taking a deep breath and heading to Gatwick with sharpened elbows and a charming smile to make my way through the crowds no matter what was happening on Monday morning. It seemed to work; I made it back to Belfast with barely any delay just before the airport closed for de-icing. I have been sitting in front of a real fire with a glass of cava in hand since then, pretending to recover from my stress-less travels.
I hope everyone else made it to their respective Christmas destinations with as little panic and are now also enjoying a warm welcome and a cold drink wherever they are...have a wonderful day!