Saturday, 26 December 2009

A timeline

7:30am - TS stirs. After much deliberation she decides that she has to go to the loo. As she steps out of her room she trips over a Christmas stocking immediately outside her door. The spare room door is open. The parents are sitting in bed, each with a cup of tea, and are surrounded by crumpled wrapping paper and presents. TS goes back to bed.

9:00am - TS wakes again. As she steps out of her room she trips over a Christmas stocking immediately outside her door. Still. The parents are up, showered and dressed, and hopping from one foot to the other. "Is it time to open presents yet?" Father asks. "Coffee," TS states.

9:15 am - TS has convinced the parents to have breakfast first and presents after. She has prioritised a jug of coffee. It has helped. Bread, croissants, toasted muffins, and the obligatory range of six jars of preserve are served.

9:45 am - "Is it time to open presents yet?" Father asks. TS convinces the parents to clear the table first. The brother calls having already opened all presents. The Parents talk to the Brother. TS clears the table.

10:00 am - Present opening commences. All is calm. All is bright. Highlights include a slug trap and some smellies still bearing the "3 for 2" label. Classy.

11:00 am - "If that pudding doesn't go on soon we'll never be having it," Mother announces. TS puts pudding on to boil.

11:15 am - Present opening concludes. Father has put all his chocolates next to the radiator. The phone rings. "It'll be Great Aunt," mother concludes on the second ring. It is not. It is a friend calling with best wishes and thanks for presents. Great Aunt is pointedly called from a mobile phone in the kitchen.

11:45 am - Pudding is boiling, kitchen is clear of breakfast, oven is heating, phone conversations are concluded. TS decides to slope off for her shower.

12noon - TS comes out of the shower to be faced with a table cloth crisis. Her management training does not go to waste. Disaster averted. She can get dressed in peace.

12:05 pm - Father discovers he has left his chocolates next to the radiator. Mother is finding things in the kitchen. TS abandons hair and make up. Mother departs to do hair and make up. The bird goes in the oven.

1:45 pm - new potatoes cleaned, old potatoes and parsnips peeled and cut up to be roasted, baby carrots topped and tailed, sprouts peeled and crossed, stuffing made, red cabbage prepared, cranberry sauce located and tipped into a bowl, crudites chopped, dips and olives located, crisps, drinks poured, table laid, crockery located, crackers found, lost again, found again. Mother walks into kitchen and enquires whether I was going to put any make up on today. TS goes to put make up on and reassemble now rampant hair.

2:00 pm - TS glides downstairs, the picture of domestic goddishness, fully made up, hair rearranged, in jewellery which co-ordinates with her outfit. Father hands her a stiff G&T. She reclines by the fire. "Isn't it nice to sit down!" Mother declares.

2:01 pm - TS bastes the bird. Returns to gin.

2:03 pm - TS goes to heat oil for roast veg. Returns to gin.

2:05 pm - TS puts roast veg in oven. Returns to gin.

2:07 pm - TS remembers the sausages in the fridge and goes to put them in the oven. Returns to gin.

(Repeat for half an hour)

2:37 pm - Mother looks at watch and points out that it's nearly 3pm. TS deciphers code, drains gin and goes to throw starters together. Mother butters bread.

3:15 pm - Starters prepared and on table. Bird out of oven to rest (lucky bugger). All veg roasting / boiling accordingly. Mother is asked to make gravy. She frowns and shakes her head. She does not like the new roasting tin. Or the quality of what's come out of the bird. Or the shape of my table spoon ("It's different to mine. But I'm manage.") TS offers to make gravy. Mother says no. She'll do her best.

3:30 pm - Starters started.

3:35 pm - Starters finished. Return to kitchen. Father carves the bird. TS drains all veg / removes from oven accordingly, and transfers to serving dishes and to table. Mother is there too.

3:45 pm - All food on the table. TS surveys what she's achieved and is proud. Father says that the gravy looks like the best bit. TS bites her tongue.

4:15 pm - Everyone has had dinner and seconds. There is almost as much food left on the table as when we started. Mother says she told me there would be. TS racks brains to recall such a conversation. Plates are cleared.

4:16 pm - Father is asked to get cheese out and put on the table.

4:17 pm - Cheese is found spread liberally, still in it's wrappers, around the kitchen. TS decides to make up the cheese board herself.

4:30 pm - the Christmas pudding and white sauce are served. Disaster strikes when Mother realises she's forgotten the plastic sprig of holly for the top of the pudding. Life goes on.

4:45 pm - The thought of any more food makes TS feel a bit panicky, but there are standards to be met. Father and TS have token sliver of cheese each. Mother does not.

5:00 pm - TS says that the only thing she really wants to watch today is The Gruffalo at 5:30 so clears the table. She finishes clearing the kitchen. Loads the dishwasher. Washes the things that won't fit. finds things that have been "put away" and puts them away. She makes up a tray with coffee (two sorts), milk, cream, sugar, chocolates.

5:31 pm - TS enters living room. Gruffalo is not on. Father begrudgingly changes channels, then mutters throughout.

6:00 pm - Parents settle in for Dr Who. TS takes coffee things back to kitchen, puts ham on to boil for tomorrow, fixes broken candle holder thing, makes tea, finds cheese biscuits under dining table and transfers to tin. Finds more things that have been "put away". Puts them away.

7:00 pm - Father leaves lounge declaring Strictly Come Dancing "a load of old rubbish". TS re-enters lounge to watch said rubbish. Mother says, "Isn't it nice to sit down?"

7:01 pm - Mother falls asleep.

8:50 pm - Father re-enters lounge to peer at final scenes of Eastenders, play with candles, mutter about "a load of old rubbish" and prod Mother until she wakes up. TS misses seeing Archie Mitchell die.

9:05 pm - Father says he's had enough and is going to bed. Mother and TS watch a series of Christmas specials, before she decides to retire too.

Midnight - TS heads to bed for fear that she will soon turn back into a pumpkin. She is thankful to have had so much help preparing the feast. Really. She's not sure she could have done it alone ...


  1. You are a superstar! Delia and Nigella have nothing on you. I bet you were chic, sophisticated, glamourous and totlly organised in the face of great adversity. Reading this has reminded me about the Gruffalo which I was going to record. Damn damn and double damn. Was it good?
    P.S. Christmas at yours sounds lovely. Well done. xx

  2. It was a lot more relaxing to read than it was to experience. Thank goodness you could rely on some acceptably salted gravy to help make the day perfect.

  3. God, your xmas sounds exactly like mine, reading your post makes me kinda glad the day is over with for another year. Why do we do it to ourselves every year!?
    On a lighter won one of my giveaway's, stop by to have a peep and email me your address so i can get your prize sent over asap to help you recover from a xmas with parents, he he. Congratulations honey, hope you enjoy it!


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