That’s the thing about kids isn’t it? They assume that even when they’ve reached adulthood we parents will still want to cling to the parental nurturing bond and provide for them – a belief never more apparent than when they return home for Christmas.
In our house, true to the Christmas story, if we’re still allowed to refer to it thus in these obsessively politically correct times – our gang each brought a gift. Nothing in the gold, frankincense or myrrh line – modern Magi tend to lean more towards Oddbins for their shopping. Which is all very well, but I find it irritating when, having crossed my palm with a bottle of lukewarm Californian white, the assembled offspring proceed to inflict serious damage on my reserves of Chablis and Sancerre. Where’s the equity in that?
And when I move to protest I’m made to feel guilty and my wife tells that I’m turning into my father. Well, I’ve always found curmudgeonliness to be an endearing eccentricity. This view is not endorsed by my family. In fact, it’s about the only thing in our house over Christmas that they apparently don’t wish to share in.
And eat? How they can eat. With partners, we are a family of 12 so we tend to go large with the turkey to the tune of 25lbs or so. Obviously, being pensioners we take out a second mortgage to fund it although this normally covers the ham, beef and salmon. We provide enough meat to give vegetarians nightmares for a month. If only it lasted our family that long.
But it’s not just the eating and drinking that wind me up. It’s the inertia. It’s as if all 10 visitors apply superglue to their backsides prior to arrival because they’re all incapable of leaving a chair once they’ve sat in it.
My family can drink, sleep, eat, play games or watch TV completely oblivious of the fact that my wife and I are exhausted and on our knees. The 12 days of Christmas? All it means in our house is 12 days of planning menus, buying ingredients, preparing and cooking a cornucopia of culinary creativity, assembling and conveying it to the table and then, post-demolition, removing the detritus as a prelude to washing up and starting again.
And just don’t get me started on paying for it, because I’m expected to do that as well. Offer a sodding contribution, why don’t you?
“Cheerio Dad, thanks, great Christmas.” Family joy? Charlie Hollocks to all that. Bring on a mis-selling scandal and let me get back to something I enjoy. Zzz…