Saturday, 27 December 2008

That was the Christmas that was

Phew. I can breathe again for another year. I've even been incredibly smug and have bought two presents for next Christmas. And David tells me that watching QVC addles the brain! Hah! My Christmas went as well as it could have done I suppose, given the sheer crowd of people, mixed personalities, assorted foibles, miscellaneous traditions, the occasional cock-up and Amelia.

I cooked the turkeys on Christmas Eve purely because I had half a pig to cook on Christmas Day. When I texted Charlie at ten past eight in the morning to tell her that turkey number one was in the oven she replied with "It's Christmas Eve sweet?". It's her first actual Christmas Chez Moi - I don't think she was properly equipped to join our motley crew. Amelia didn't think so either and kept asking why she wasn't with her family. There was a slight cock-up in that Charlie arrived on Christmas Eve, just after Ginny when I wasn't expecting her until Christmas morning. There was loose talk about her going home again but once she was welded to the sofa with a vat of mulled wine I thought it would be too cruel to evict her. Amelia's stew was an experience and I only got through it because of the lure of the Ayres black forest gateau that Charlie brought with her as part of her contribution (the other part of her contribution was keeping me calm in the Face of Amelia - no mean feat and greatly appreciated).

Mac went up to bed at a reasonable hour for Christmas Eve - Ginny had thoughtfully brought along a set of bells from somewhere and went out into the garden for a "little tinkle". The look of wonderment on his face was magical and he couldn't get up the stairs quick enough - after leaving out the usual contribution by the utility room door of course. Ginny returned telling me that her tinkling had "attracted the attention of a mangy old moggy".

We then watched The Day After Tomorrow - I do love a good disaster movie - plundered the Quality Street tin, downed some more mulled wine and tried to convince Ginny that Charlie really didn't mind sleeping on the sofa and that she didn't have to but it was a nice offer. As Charlie said as we met outside the loo, "I couldn't have let a 60 year old woman sleep on the sofa, even if she does walk four miles a day"

Christmas Day. Ah, the tweets of little robin redbreasts, the excited woofs of the dogs as they rip their presents apart, Mac's yelling as he discovers yet another present that "I put on my list mummy" and Amelia asking me if the pork should have gone in by now. Of course, it's traditional that David should baste the pork but he was more interested in sorting out Mac's new toy. I've given in and he's now got a Wii. God help me, that's all I can say. When I say traditional, I meant of course it's traditional in Amelia's eyes. David doesn't see the point in basting - "It's just pouring the juices that have come out, back on. Isn't it?".

The dinner guests arrived in time, were perfectly complimentary about the food, provided more wine than you can shake a stick at, more laughs than you could cope with with a groaning stomach and all gathered round the television for Wallace and Gromit but pretended it was just "for the kids' sakes". Scarlett was more interested in the antics of Junior Dog, Freddie slept through it and Mac, Ian and Caitlin kept telling us the storyline before it happened. "Look, there's going to be a big bang in a minute!" Caitlin said which sent Bea into fits of giggles. Those that went home left by half eleven while the rest of us stayed up to pick over the bones of the day and the bones of the turkey. David and Jack Next Door were eating turkey sandwiches and pickled onions at gone one in the morning.

Boxing Day and the traditional Sending Amelia Out Of The House. Ginny bit the bullet and accompanied her mother, Mac and David on a "drive" whilst Charlie and I laughed over Amelia's behaviour of the previous day which, on the Day itself, drove me crackers. This included, in no particular order, complaining that the leg meat was too dry, the potatoes not fluffy enough, the sprouts under cooked, Mac was being spoilt, the mulled wine was too "strong and rancid", the dogs were out of control, I didn't have as much style as my sister, I had too many guests, I didn't have enough carrots for the Boxing Day Soup, David is putting on weight and the neighbours (Frank and Marjorie did all of the washing up) should remain "neighbours and not be dragged into this family".

This last complaint was her undoing - I pointed out, quite slickly for me, whilst waving my full glass of wine at her that Jack was a neighbour and, despite the fact that he had spent a vast fortune on her presents, had kept the dogs occupied and did all of the veg preparation, perhaps he should go home in case he's dragged into this family. Sadly, the only witness to this was Bea while we stirred the post-Christmas dinner mulled wine but it brought Amelia up short and she was blissfully silent for, oooh, at least forty minutes.

Talking of Bea, she did wonders at her Boxing Day Bash, despite the fact that the staff had had the previous two days off. "It's very much a buffet, a find us as you find us, type of thing" she cooed as we arrived. Flavia was tipping gherkins into a cut glass bowl of great antiquity but Bea bit her lip and hurried the children into the playroom for some more Wii-ing.

So, that's my festive season in a pretty big nutshell - how was it for you?

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Nunhead, London, United Kingdom
I'm a mum of one, wife of one and owner to several dogs, a variety of breeds and sizes. I live in the up and coming area (or so they say) of Nunhead and have mad neighbours, strange friends and certifiable relatives. I shop locally, although I do defect to Sainsburys once a week - shoot me now local shopkeepers.