It’s a special time of year and so, to celebrate it, I wanted to do something special on I’m NOT Disordered for Christmas. I have decided to bring back the Christmassy Q&A I put together last year with the questions being from a YouTube video and have posed them to many different people from all of the country and doing all sorts of jobs, in all sorts of roles, living all kinds of lives!
So let’s kick off Day Three of 12 Days of Christmas with I'm NOT Disordered with the answers of Martin Baker, Author of High Tide Low Tide.
1. When do you start getting excited for Christmas Day?About now! Most presents are bought and wrapped. Those which needed to be posted have been sent off. Others will be delivered this weekend. The tree is up and looking rather lovely. Twelve days to go, as I write this. Bring it on!
2. Do you still have an advent calendar? If yes, which do you have and if no, when did you stop having them?
Haven’t had one since I was little. (Yes they had Advent calendars in prehistoric times!)
3. What are your favourite Christmas movies?
Die Hard 2 (the airport one, with all the snow!) and the Grinch. I tend to associate Christmas with tv more than movies: I was raised on the Morecambe & Wise Christmas Specials.
4. Do you have any funny Christmas stories/memories?
When I was young the wider family (aunts, uncles, cousins etc.) would descend on one of the houses for a family gathering on Boxing Day. One year – I was maybe eight or nine – it was our turn, which coincided with the worst Christmas weather in years, with heavy snow, ice and fog. None of the family had cars, and everyone ended up spending the night at our place. As kids, it was lots of fun, but I don’t think my Mum and Dad were very impressed!
5. What's your typical Christmas Day?
I pop downstairs first and turn the Christmas tree lights on, then we (me, my wife and son) go down together. We open our main presents and a selection of other gifts from friends and family, leaving some for later in the day (well that’s the theory!) Breakfast is tea/coffee and toast. I start cooking the dinner about ten o’clock. My stepdaughter arrives around midday. Dinner is from around 1:30. Christmas pudding an hour or so after the main meal, once our tummies have settled! Rest of the day is for chilling out. Tv, music, conversation. Throughout the day I will have connected with friends online.
6. What do you eat for you Christmas dinner? And what is your favourite part of it?
Roast chicken and pigs-in-blankets for the carnivores. Veggie sausages for me! Roast potatoes, roast parsnips, baked onions, baked sweet potato, new potatoes, Brussels sprouts, carrots, stuffing, gravy, cranberry sauce, apple sauce. Christmas pudding and custard to follow. I love the roast veggies and Christmas pud best. Not on the same plate.
7. Do you have any Christmas traditions?
A number of years ago, my wife and I introduced the “Christmas Rules” in our house – a printed list of (half-joking!) rules to be followed on Christmas Eve and Christmas morning: what time to go up to bed; what time to settle down to sleep; what time the kids could open their stockings (quietly!); what time they could visit each other’s rooms; what time they could visit us!. We’ve kept the tradition going, adjusting the timings from year to year, though it’s just for a laugh now.
8. What are your favourite Christmas songs?
“Fairytale of New York” (The Pogues and Kirsty MacColl); “I Believe In Father Christmas” (Greg Lake); “Baby, it’s Cold Out There!” (Tom Jones and Cerys Matthews); “Sweet Bells” (album) (Kate Rusby)
9. What has been your favourite Christmas present?
My best Christmas present when I was a child was a wooden fort my Dad made for me. To continue the tradition many years later, I made my son a wooden pirate ship, and my stepdaughter a wooden dolls house. When my son was little, he gave me a one-eyed cuddly gorilla he’d bought at his school fete. He bought all our presents that year at the fete for a total of 30 pence. It’s the thought that counts, after all!
10. Do you prefer a real or fake Christmas tree?
We have a lovely fake one we got about ten years ago. Still going strong! When the kids were little we had real trees. One year they sold out in the local shops so I had to go further afield. Apparently you are not allowed to take a 6 foot Christmas tree on the Metro, so I had to carry it home. Took about an hour and a half trudging through the snow. Never again!
11. This year, do you think you'd be on the naughty or nice list?
I think that’s for other folk to say, not me! (What do you think, Aimee?)
12. Do you prefer giving or receiving presents?
Great question! I used to focus much more on giving than on receiving. I didn’t necessarily give expensive gifts, but plenty of them. I would be grateful (or believed I was being grateful) for what I received but didn’t really mind too much if someone got me a gift or not, or what it was. (Very few people have ever managed to get me things which really resonate with me, so that may be part of it.) It is only in the past few years that I have realised how unbalanced and – like anything unbalanced – unhealthy my attitude has been. I see now that over-gifting can be unwelcome to the recipient, especially if they feel unable to reciprocate (the fact I never expected or needed anything in return is beside the point). I have been pushy – at times borderline aggressive – with my gifting, which is not a good place to be or to put others in. I have also reassessed my attitude to receiving. Not caring about what others choose to offer me is being neither generous nor truly grateful. It is disrespectful to the other person, and to myself.
13. Where would be your dream place to spend Christmas?
14. Are you good at wrapping presents?
I am a gift wrapping Ninja.
15. What time do you usually get up on Christmas morning? Is this different from when you were little?
As per the Christmas Rules (see #7)!! This year it will probably be around 9 a.m. I don’t remember Christmas mornings when I was little, but I imagine they started early!
16. How old were you when you found out that Santa wasn't real? And how did you find out?
AIMEE, WHAT ARE YOU SAYING??????!!!!!!! I don’t remember when I found out – likely at junior school. We “did the Father Christmas thing” for our kids when they were little. We left out a mince pie and glass of mulled wine for him, and a carrot for Rudolph, on Christmas Eve, and Santa presents were always wrapped in different paper than the ones from us. Christmas stockings were placed at the foot of the kids’ beds once they had (hopefully!) fallen asleep. But at the same time I have always felt odd about it. The “Magic of Christmas” vs lying to your kids. I hate the whole “he’s checking his list” thing: the implicit threat parents hold over their kids’ heads to behave or Santy won’t come. And, somehow, no matter how good the kids from poor families are, they never get the reward that kids from rich families get, naughty or nice. Hardly a great lesson in social justice (although, sadly, an accurate one).
17. What is your dream Christmas present?
I find this hard to answer (see my answer to #13 re gifting), not least because I have pretty much all the material things I could want. Seeing our book (“High Tide, Low Tide: The Caring Friend’s Guide to Bipolar Disorder”) on the NYT best sellers list would be pretty cool, if you can arrange it!
18. Have you asked for anything this year? If yes, what?
I put a list together at my son’s request. It includes ground coffee, plain chocolate, a sealing wax set for sealing letters, and a Midori brass pencil to complement my Midori Travellers Notebooks. I’ll let you know how I get on! (Hugs are also welcome.)
19. If you could spend Christmas with anyone – living or dead, celebrity or someone you know – who would it be?
My bestie Fran, in Maine.