Christmas is over- which means it’s a great time to remember it. (Obviously- because that’s how memory works. Otherwise we just call it ‘noticing things’). Here are my Christmas memories:
Christmas this year was at my Mothers. My Mother, despite her penchant for throwing parties and lunches, is not a natural hostess. She has an off-putting habit of hoovering the kitchen floor whilst you are still at the table, eating; or plumping sofa cushions up whilst you are sitting against them. Unwilling to serve anyone younger than herself, she encourages her children to ‘grab a drink from the fridge’, and is later apoplectically angry that we have drunk the ‘very expensive’ red wine. (Why the red wine is in the fridge to start with is a whole other issue).
We were 5 for Christmas- my Mother, her paramour, my little brother, my little sister and myself. Originally, my little sister wasn’t meant to be there at all- as a junior doctor, she had to go into work. As a junior doctor, however, she was about as helpful as an iPhone charger for a Blackberry, and got sent home early. ‘Don’t tell Mum,’ I encouraged her. ‘And I’ll go in first, then you follow as a surprise.’
Which, like most of my ideas, initially worked wonderfully. Until my Mother made an enormous fuss over my little sister, plying her with champagne and attention, whilst asking me to ‘find that big bowl’.
To her credit, my Mother’s Christmas lunch was faultless- mounds of impeccable food and really excellent wine. In fact, there was so much food that my little brother begged post mains, ‘Can we not just have some intercourse?’
As we stared at him in bewilderment we realized he meant ‘a small pause in-between courses’. It was funny enough to almost forgive him for beating me at charades.
‘We have movies!’ My Mother announced excitedly after lunch.
My sister and I nodded politely, wondering when it would be appropriate to tell my aged Mother that DVDs are pretty universally available these days. ‘It’s a Wonderful Life,’ She announced, pressing play. ‘Why is this such bad quality?’ She asked crossly, rounding on us. ‘Look- it’s in black and white. This was a very expensive DVD player.’
Worn out with explaining how time and technology work, my little sister fell asleep on the sofa next to me. My little brother had slunk off upstairs, presumably to investigate the differences between a ‘goose’ and a ‘duck’ (this was another excellent conversational addition from him), so I was the only offspring still present to witness my Mother’s outstanding critical commentary of ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’ – which, according to her, ‘should have been called ‘this life is terrible, please get me out of my small town’. I left before she saw the next movie, but am eager to hear her wise and insightful thoughts on ‘Ted’.
‘That was fun,’ My little sister said cheerfully on the way home. I turned to glare at her. ‘You spent most of the day asleep,’ I pointed out. ‘Yes,’ She said happily. ‘Well I was a bit worn out from all the love and attention I had been receiving. Did you ever find that big bowl, by the way?’ I glared at my little sister, who, completely unaffected, told our cab driver, ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’.