Readers will recall that I recently poo-pooed some friends of mine who were super-proudly ready for Christmas when November was barely underway. I chortled at their emerging OCD, mocked their lack of festive spontaneity and made light of the amount of work they imagined was necessary to produce one big meal and a couple of sparkly pressies.
I should have known that the Ghost of Christmas Smugness was listening, for within 24 hours he struck me down with a proper dose of seasonal cold-and-flu. Finally, some fortnight later, I am dragging my barely-animated corpse from its sick bed to discover that Christmas is happening, it’s this week and I’m hardly ready at all.
Remember storm Desmond? I wasn’t expecting much from him, sounding (as he does) far more likely to come round and tickle your pigeons than wreak havoc with your hard landscaping, but I was wrong. He blew my fences down. The builder I employed, who promised me a shiny new garden within a week, is, alas, still in-situ. Whilst I’ve been shivering beneath my duvet, he’s been hurting his knee at football, firing unreliable labourers and juggling too many jobs, meaning that we are far from finished. Had I been well enough to chivvy him along things may have been a little speedier but I wasn’t so they weren’t. The trampoline I’ve bought for the kids is now stuck in the hallway, waiting for the garden to be finished, and the house-cleaners booked to blitz the place, post-garden-maintenance, are now scrubbing floors to the sound of me yelling “Take OFF your BOOTS” at said grubby workmen every two minutes. I say yelling. Croaking like a crone would be more accurate.
Meantime I’ve queued at the butchers long enough to write a first novel, only to find that he is, predictably, out of almost everything. I ended up with a very small duck, and lots of sausages (although to be fair the kids have always refused to eat any meat other than sausages on Christmas day so…) I’ll just have to hide the measly meat portions with tons of veggies. To acquire said veggies I sat in the car park queue for my local supermarket for half an hour before deciding that I could bear it no longer, whereupon I returned home and joined a well-known box delivery service. Mercifully they were still taking orders (my best beloved is vegan, no veggies = no food). As I was checking out online I realised they also sell mince pies, booze and chocolates, so when the kids want to leave Saint Nick a glass of sherry and a snack, I will at least be able to do that.
This leaves just the presents. A well-known on-line retailer has gained my grudging custom so that I can take advantage of their overnight delivery service (ker-ching!) but at least my nieces and nephews will not feel neglected.
All that remains is to decorate the tree and the house (more croaking of “do NOT put your tools THERE!”) put up the wreath, find some crackers, and head to the shops for some last minute under the tree gifts…