If my list and I left the house together, we’d be unstoppable. My levels of organisation would know no parallel. My life would lilt along on the gentle, but inexorable, current of Preparedness. Yet this state of being shall never be mine. My brain and I are long divorced. I recently made a birthday cake for one of the children, and had to go out three separate times, with three children, in one day, to get butter, eggs and icing sugar (that was the easy part, see here for the story of the actual baking debacle).
A Lust for Lists
Yet, I love lists. I love long lists, I love short lists. I love lists of lists. I love shortlists of lists. I love sub-lists – you know, when you’re jotting down ‘nappies, wine’, and then start a list in the corner of stuff you have to do for school, and then another, for light relief, of things you’ve been wanting for ages. Lists somehow justify lust. If your material desires are presented in an orderly, possibly even typed, fashion, who is to question their necessity?
With my 100% record for leaving lists behind, I recently started to make notes on bigger and bigger formats, in order to imprint them on my mind before leaving the house. I could walk from the bottom of the stairs to the kettle on my stepping stones of A4 paper, each scrawled with a reminder. Perhaps one of them should have said, ‘Take list’. Finally, I hit upon a mini-blackboard to stand on the kitchen worktop. It was right in my face, could only fit a few, key things on it, and was both reusable and unlosable. However, with no time to transcribe its contents one day, I had to bung it in the back of the car, and by the time I got to the shops, the chalk had all rubbed off on the buggy.
Thwarted again, I decided to go cold turkey. When I would sooner have gone knicker-less than list-less, I realised I had to stop relying on lists and re-engage my brain. So now, I give myself three things per day that I absolutely have to do that day, and I try very hard to remember them. Three is quite a high target, mind you. As a guide, I think you should aim for the number corresponding to the age of the smallest child you look after. So, with a baby, you can happily be expected to achieve zero things every day. Things other than the great and monumental achievement of bringing your child or children up through another glorious day, of course. I have to admit, sometimes I do write them down, though. I guess I’m more Minima-List than List-less.
Tis the Season To Be List-y
However, I cannot be listless at Christmas. I just CAN’T! It’s six weeks away today, and it’s about time I started making some of the lists I’ve been dreaming of. Christmas cards, Christmas presents, Christmas guests, Christmas dresses, Christmas food, Christmas booze…the list is end-list. But I will start with, of course, the most important list of all. The Queen of Lists – nay, the Empress! The Christmas Wish-List. Harbour of all dreams, nexus of all desires, revealer of all idiocies. No ‘take crap to the tip’ here, no ‘buy ant powder’. It is your chance to be frivolous, decadent, aspirational, ridiculous. Yourself.
This is the first item on my Santa’s list:* a bright pink leather notebook from Smythson. To write my lists in. What’s yours?
*Apart from a world free of hunger, war, disease and sadness, of course. Starting with this UNICEF appeal for the children in the Philippines.