I’m going to document all this while it is still fresh in my mind and will reread next December so I can at last keep my Christmas expectations low or failing that… book a hotel!
I woke up at 5am on Xmas morning in a sweat (not due to my new duck feather quilt which I fear to be a big mistake.. too noisy and warm) but because I remembered I’d to steep the bloody ham. I tried to be as quiet as possible while maneuvering a slippery piece of meat bigger than a human head into a pot that just about fit it.
I had just dozed off when I heard the five year old shout ‘there’s stuff in my stocking…. MAMMMM!!!’
This bit I like… the kids marvelled at how well Santa knew them as they opened Stranger Things blind bags, Beano prank kits and Trash Packs. They begged to go downstairs but I told them they couldn’t till I made tea. ‘And drink it?’ queried Conall hopping from one foot to the other. I did my usual speech about how we had to go to mass before we could open our presents and weren’t they lucky to be little heathens. ‘’I believe in God’ said the 5 year old in a bid to be controversial; We all froze until he smiled and said ‘just kidding’.. and we all laughed glad that the true meaning of Christmas and all it’s overindulgence could be restored.
Tea in hand, hair wild and boobs swinging (beneath a Game of Thrones T-shirt… shame, shame) I opened the door to the sitting room like Gene Wilder in our favourite Xmas movie (Silver Streak). The older boys got a computer between them so their stack of presents looked small; The five year old had a mountain of cheap shite to open. He wanted slither-io snakes from santa which are from a game very similar to Snake on the old Nokias so the bar was low. Middle child noted amount of gifts and so I guided him to the copious notes from Santa explaining his logic. My husband sat there bleary eyed (he’d had to drink many cans in the name of Santa the night before) and saw all these gifts for the first time.
He then asked could he go for a nap.. I let him as he’d been working all hours taxiing over Xmas and I was feeling benevolent.
Two hours later and I was on the verge of putting his head to steep in a pot. I was having my Mam, Dad, sister and her two girls (one of whom is vegan) for dinner at one and I was still peeling carrots at 12.30 in my pjs. There had been multiple stops to mediate fights and find missing bits of lego.
I somehow managed to be showered, dressed and dinner ready by 1.30. I forgot to baste stuff or do all the fiddly, fancy cooking bits I’d been googling for a few months and I handed up Turkey, ham and boiled veg. I apologised to Ossie as he made appropriate yum sounds as I know those kind of dinners are his idea of bland hell. The vegan had tofu and spuds cooked in coconut oil rather than the delicious goose fat we had.
After dinner my Mam and sister sat smoking at the back door and half-heartedly muttered ‘d’ya need a hand?’ and ‘god she never gets a break’ as I sweated buckets into the steaming dishwasher.
The gifts were then handed out and my sister and I continued on a tradition of ‘being ungrateful little brats.’ In fairness my Mam did gift Fiona with a Jo Malone candle set that she had given my Mam four years previously but my Mam deemed it too good to ever light.
I was given Marian Keyes latest book and while I admire Marian greatly, anyone who knows me knows that I am more of a fantasy/ thriller/ dystopian gal. There were other gorgeous gifts from my parents though such as a bracelet and yankee candles in clean cotton. (ungrateful little bitch!)
I gave my Dad and my Mam slipper crocs from Lidl which my Dad took a shine to and I did the whole speech of very handy for going out to the bins. My sister was disgusted as she watched four of us extol the virtues of this exemplary footwear. I overheard her ask Conall if he knew his Mam was hickey and saw him nod agreement.
The big hit was a book I made my sister by the Book of Everyone.. It’s the second time I’ve given one of these as a present and they produce the right amount of tears and gratitude for a smug gift giver.
Giving my Mam a present is not something any of us look forward to and she’s usually left to last. In the weeks leading up to Christmas we receive numerous calls telling us not to be wasting our money on her. I’ve bought her sentimental necklaces and personalised pottery pieces but her reaction is always one of confused amusement and she’ll ordinarily give it away right in front of you. This year was no exception, I decided to be practical and got her face creams… I mistakenly got a day one and a neck/decollate one instead of night. ‘Ah what’s this?’ she exclaimed. I pitched her the idea of looking after her neck and my sister fair play got stuck in as we pointed out her flapping turkey neck in great detail. ‘It’s too late for me.. Aisling you take it’… this was the closest I got to a compliment all night.
I got giddy and showed my Mam Christmas knickers I’d gotten to which she said ‘they’ll never fit a big girl like you’ and slapped my arse for effect.
I spent two hours setting up my nieces iphone because I’m somehow the tech person but having never owned an iphone it proved tricky. My Dad kept tutting saying he didn’t know how they’d survived in his day.
My sister and kids left and I spent a further few hours putting together lego while the folks and my husband got royally pissed. I let him get the kids to bed and at last opened some wine at ten o’clock!
We stayed up till almost two emptying and refilling the dishwasher and remembering Christmases gone when my Dad got just a football and an empty sock (not a patch on the slipper crocs of 2017) and the one where I got a tape recorder and spent years recording people’s conversations. My Dad mentioned he’d a load of tapes in the house… I just need to find something to play them on and let the blackmail commence..
Did I mention that two of the kids had a tummy bug over Christmas?.. one was puking, the other scuttering. The oldest saved his projectile for two nights ago while lying on my freshly changed sheets… the duck feathers will never be the same.
Happy Christmas from me! Let’s survive till the 8th of January when I hope there is something left on the sales rack for a big girl like me. Roll on Nollaig Na mBan and a 2018 filled with lotto wins and a sudden and unexpected gym addiction.