Wow - does that mean I'm actually a 'grown up'? It's only taken 31 years, several homes (one with a mortgage),1 marriage, 2 kids, 2 nervous breakdowns, a multitude of dead pets, 1 near death experience and a brief spell in a psychiatric unit and WOOO HOOOO - I've finally reached the level where you stuff your own turkey..... Only I won't be because the whole roast thing seems like a lot of work and we are going to my parent's on Boxing Day anyway. But I digress...
So this is it - we are doing it for ourselves and this makes me realise that we need to establish our very own Christmas time traditions. You know the kind of thing - carrots for old for Rudolf, mince pies for the Elves and a stiff sherry for mum, sorry Santa.
I'm not sure what traditions our family is going to build but I can, perhaps, provide an insight into the ones that it will not.
My (long suffering) OH has now done 13 (yes THIRTEEN) consecutive Christmas's with my family and, if he hadn't witnessed it himself, he probably wouldn't have believed it but he can vouch that what I am about to tell you is, unfortunatley, true.
So here are some of the scenes which I am sure are indelibly engraved on his mind and which, I am sure, he will not want me to recreate for our family Christmases (although it can always be arranged):
1. My brother getting pinned to the sofa and nearly strangled by my dad for (and this is a direct quote) 'putting a log on the fire like some kind of a f***ing dick'.
Confused? We were. One minute we were all watching Christmas Day TV on the sofa and then my dad asked my brother to put a log on the fire. In any other family surely this would have resulted in, well - a log being put on the fire? But in ours it all ended with my brother underneath my dad, hands round throats and accusations of penis like log loading. Marvellous!
2. My mum being ordered to take everyone's coats to Oxfam on Christmas Eve.
Yup - one Christmas, actually I think it might have been my OH's first ever time spent with my family, my dad opened the door to the cupboard under the stairs and flipped. There were TOO MANY COATS.
To be fair there were a lot of coats but was it really necessary to rip them all from their pegs, throw them across the lounge and insist that they were all taken to Oxfam RIGHT NOW. And when she refused, did she really need dragging from the room for a 'quiet word'? Probably not but it was certainly memorable (and, for the record, the coats are all still there....).
3. The Mysterious Case of the Used Chutney Knife
You can imagine all of our surprise, when, one frosty Yuletide morning we (including my adult husband) were all lined up in front of the fireplace and grilled (at some length) about a serious incident that had taken place during the previous evening.
It would appear that someone had come in from the pub and made themselves a cheese and chutney sandwich and (here is the criminal bit so brace yourself)...... left the dirt chutney knife on the side and not put it in the dishwasher.
I told you it was shocking.
Anyway there was a grand inquisition complete with threats of Christmas being cancelled if the perpetrator wasn't found. The problem was that the perpetrator was clearly my husband and because he's a) not 12 and b) not my father's son, very little could be done about him not owning up and falling to the floor weeping and begging forgiveness for his terrible sin. An uncomfortable stalemate was drawn, with neither side backing down, and the day moved on but the scars have been left...
4. My mum shrieking 'I can't cope with all this death' and running out into the garden
OK, there must have been drink involved, but all the same I was slightly surprised by my mum's reaction to James Bond one year. During a scene where there were a lot of explosions she knocked back her drink in one, claimed she couldn't take any more death and ran into the garden to weep.
Whoooooahhhhh - uncomfortable moment all round I seem to remember.
5. The Gin and the Sick and my Poor Mum's Hen
OK, I can not complete this list completely absolved of all blame. One year it was my Granny and Grandad's Diamond Wedding the day after Boxing Day. This would involve a 400 mile round trip, a lot of time cooped up in a Volvo Estate with my entire family and a lot of sitting around making polite, yet entertaining, conversation.
The night before the Diamond Wedding my dad left us in the pub (me, my OH and my brother) for a 'quick drink' and made us promise we would only have a couple. We were like 'yeah, whatever, of course!' (we were barely past teenagerdom at the time). Of course the pub had sold out of cider so I drank gin by the pint instead (why!?) and we all got terribly, hideously, regrettably drunk.
Roll forward to 7am and my mum shrieking 'who has been sick on my chicken!?!'.
She'd gone to feed one of her hens (who, ironically enough, was sick and in its own pen in the garden) and found it splattered in vomit.
Now luckily for me it was my brother who did it. He'd got ill in the night and leant out of his bedroom window to do what needed to be done........ and did it right onto my mum's hen. She wasn't best pleased (my mum or the hen).
Unluckily, for me I have never, ever, ever, ever, ever been so hungover. I counted every mile click past on the dial as my dad drove all the way there and all the way back. 198 miles EACH WAY. While we were there I never even made it out of the car (other than to be sick). I lay, semi-conscious, spread across the back seats, as worried looking relatives tapped on the windows and mouthed 'are you OK?' at me. Are you OK?? Erm, clearly not or I wouldn't be spending my day running between a toilet bowl and the back seat of a car.
So there we are. The following will be STRICTLY PROHIBITED from our new family Christmases:
- Log fires
- Enforced trips to Oxfam
- Chutney and associated knives
- James Bond and associated explosive killings
- Chickens covered in vomit and...
- Absolutely, definitely GIN!
p.s. for all the madness there is one thing that I hope my family Christmas will be filled with, which my parent's Christmas has always had for me - and that is a deep and absolute love for your children. Even if they do drive you to drink and throw up on family pets.....