There are times when one has to ask oneself, is it really worth it? to suffer the stress and strain and outrageous turns of events all in the name of that single day, which all too often goes all to hell in a hand cart.
But serious folks it’s not been the easiest of Christmas’s. Not that it started too bad. A reasonable lie-in without a hangover (driving again!) up by 9.30, of course, had not yet wrapped any presents or written the 15 odd cards that need to be written, all with some degree of originality.
By 11.30 I was ready all ready, I’d had a breakfast, a first probably on Christmas day for me as I’m usually ferrying people around as soon as I wake, on that particular morning every year. There had been talk of surfing the night before, for around for that time. So at 11.30 when my brother rang and I’d just finished the last card, asking
“Did I fancy Bantham there was supposed to be a ten foot clean swell running and the sun was supposed to be out?”
I was serious tempted but decided to forgo the offer. I was feeling much better than I had the day before, the Noora virus, that most of us had suffered from, hadn’t sent me running to the toilet yet that morning. But the thought of having to go, very quickly, as I had the previous day on numerous occasions, doing so in my wetsuit and half a mile of shore really was not worth contemplating.
A side bar here. My brothers face the day before whilst the Rogan Yosh I’d spent all that day cooking was being served and as my sister explained the symptoms of the virus to him graphically, and that I’d got it, was absolutely priceless. His bunch having just arrived and all starving, he looked at me them the curry, gulped, steeled himself probably deciding they were going to get it anyway and later came back for more.
Back to Christmas morning or lunch time by then, I decided the better course of action would be to go down to my Ex’s place with the kids presents, assemble Shakira’s new bike (God don’t you hate having to do that on Christmas day, surly that’s what the bike shop is for) give them their presents, whilst doing so in a leisurely manner and maybe get a bacon sandwich to keep me going until diner.
Mistake number one of the day, I should’ve gone surfing.
Arrived there, got the presents in, spent half an hour deflecting Shakira’s incessant “Fix my bike Daddy” whilst I got her to unwrap the books I’d got her from me and the boys, she has enough dolls we jointly reckon. It was about then the words “should have gone surfing” echoed through my head.
Adam, my eldest son was not looking at all best pleased with the presents I’d bought him. I’d been left messages on my wall, yes FB, on what he wanted (clothes) but a few days before Christmas, his mother in the most emphatic and most irrefutable terms confirmed she had all the clothes that he wanted for Christmas. Leaving me at a bit of a quandary in what to buy him, perhaps I should have thought about it earlier. She did suggest a tall free standing mirror, which I of course questioned, to be told, that he is always borrowing hers and said he wanted one.
So I dutifully I got him that plus some framed pictures for his bedroom, which I had promised to do some work on after Christmas and thought they might work well in the room. In retrospect, I would why I listened to her? I don’t think (or want to) that I was set up; she wouldn’t do that to me.
I had of course compounded my problems,
There is an expression I use about myself and this is a classic example of why I do so. “I usually open my mouth and stick both feet in it” and that is exactly what I had done the night before.
My sister, somewhat drunk already, who’s place we all were at Christmas Eve and again Christmas Day, asked me about what I’d bought the kids and told her blah, blah, blah and mirror for Adam. It didn’t occur to me that she would go straight down stairs, walk up to Adam sitting with four other teenage boys (brother and cousins) and asked him if he liked the mirror. It still being Christmas Eve and all, the tradition in our family is Christmas presents on Christmas Day, otherwise what’s it there for?
You can imagine the scene. They are aged between 15 and 18, had been well into the beer already, as had everyone but muggings here on driving duty. One of the few dislikes of mine at Christmas, is the ferrying duty. Much amusement was had by all 10 in the room at Adam’s expense; he of course denied all knowledge of said mirror.
I went and hid in the kitchen.
So, as I pulled all the pieces of Shakira’s bike from the box and spread the seemingly countless bits around me in a resemblance of order, I was also trying to decide upon the look on Adam’s face. Whether those look of disgust were due to the fact that he got the piss taken out of him the night before or if he didn’t like the pictures. It still hadn’t occurred to me that, he was correct in his prostrations last night, he hadn’t asked his mother for a mirror.
I’m well beyond my second mistake but I indeed made another here, should have kept quiet and built the bike. For several minutes I tried to get something other than “its fine”, out of him as I screwed and bolted, until he finally cracked with “I don’t like the pictures and I never asked for a mirror I can’t believe you bought me a mirror” storming out.
It seemed best not to follow and after another fifteen, the bike was taking shape but it was now time to make sure that Sue (my Ex) Shakira and the boys where going to ready, relatively soon. My brother was down with his wife and their two teenage boys (all our boys are similar ages) for the first Christmas for several years, they also hadn’t seen my daughter Shakira since about 6 months old and wanted to spend some time with her before we ate.
It was time to get brave, to go up stairs and ask Sue how long?
The answer was not one that was going to bode well for the rest of the day. The “Not going” answer I did get, was eventually reinforced after the much repeated asking of Why? Was that Shakira was sick, I knew she was well over the thing that’s been inflicting everyone and was fine but it was just going to be one of those Days. This type of crap happens every year, Sue always last minute, doesn’t want to go. Some years it’s handled better than others.
My eldest Adam now enters what is becoming a verbal affray with “Right if she’s not going nor am I” Really not what was required. Now I’ve got a three way argument going, with the appearance of my youngest boy Dan (15) after about five minutes of this, out of the haze of his latest X Box game and his question
“What are you lot fighting about?”
Adam left the house, his mother slammed her bedroom room and I retreated downstairs and finished that bloody bike. Which over the next 30 minutes I managed to pull off amidst a great deal of swearing and throwing of things, as you can possibly imagine.
Dan, bless him spent those intervening minutes reaching a comprise with each party; where I would leave with the boys as soon as I was done, his mother and Shakira would follow along later. It didn’t take him long to find Adam, he hadn’t gone far because guess what? It’s still raining.
The drive to my sister’s place had not calmed me down at all and few imbeciles on the road were left with choice words. At gaining my sisters place, I again took refuge in the kitchen, occupied by those doing the cooking that day, my sister, husband and daughter, with ample slamming of doors Again many choice words were spoken, until I was told to go out to the porch with a glass of wine and a smoke, not that I do that very often but there are times!
Fair to say I was much calmer when I returned, Adam everything now forgotten, five teenage boys and several cases of beer, what would one expect.
I decided to keep to my no drinking policy, that glass of wine could replace the one I would have had with diner and the next few hours went well. And excellent diner was enjoyed by all of us not one bad belly yet among the group myself included.
I did have to concede that Sue may have been correct (I hate doing that) in that Shakira still wasn’t fully recovered. She wasn’t her normally bouncy self and kept hanging on to her mother, whinging, but some of that may be down to the fact that she is not the baby in the mix any more.
My sister’s teenage son had brought another one into the tribe and that one was only 3 months old, so was getting a lot of attention. The baby’s mother wasn’t there (don’t ask) and the baby would be spending the night there with her dad (mostly new granny, my sister). The pertinence of which didn’t get to me until later in that evening, literally two mouth full’s of port to late.
About half an hour earlier I had decided to ditch the drive home plan and take the contingency plan, the three sleeping bags in the back of the truck. The lounge had two large sofas; I’d have one, the boys could fight for the other with the loser sleeping on cushions. My sister would be cool with that; it’s been done before on numerous occasions.
But that decision was one of the worst I’d made recently.
The evening went well, the teenagers and cases of beer didn’t get messy as it could and now released from my no drinking policy, I could have a few as well. About 2.30 I lay down in a sleeping bag on the couch, the last of two to decide to get some sleep, thinking, the not to drive home decision had been a good one, it had been a very nice evening. The mention of baby waking times had been mentioned, where I had been told “That she was a good baby would wake up about 4.00 for a feed, then sleep for another 4 hours, mostly”.
It was with the thought of “6 hours sleep I shouldn’t feel too bad”, that I shut my eyes and drifted off to sleep. At 4 ish I heard a brief cry and then quiet, “Hopefully” I thought drifting back off to sleep. Then there was a very quiet, what only can be described as gagging sound, which was beginning to sink in to my consciousness as a far louder noise of the same came from Adam’s sleeping bag. Followed a second later by “dad get me a bucket” and two seconds later, an eruption from my sons mouth, as I turned my face toward his, no more than a foot away.
Over the next five seconds he proceeded to eject two huge turkey diners worth of food, copious quantities of beer all over himself, his sleeping bag, all the cushions he was lying on and continue to rapidly spread toward the two couches me and Dan lie on and our clothes. The details of the actual clean up are not worth going into but suffice to say it left me gagging so much that Dan cleaned up as much as I did. About an hour or so later after removing all the cushions, rugs, clothes etc that had been contaminated by my son, past my youngest brother crashed out in the hall, who never noticed a thing. And outside, where guess what, it was still raining. Did I finally lie down again this time on the couch with Adam, a single sleeping bag over us and little clothes left on.
I knew, whilst laying there clutching my eldest son, two six foot and plus guys, there wasn’t a lot of choice, that sleep was going to be hard if ever coming and I got to thinking. Did she deliberately set me up and why hadn’t I kept to the no drinking, had I done so I would be home in bed and all this would be happening at her house. I eventually came to the question I posed at the beginning, Is it really worth it?
I think it is, despite the cost and the nonsense, you have to love Christmas, and when it really does go tits up, this year’s mayhem invariably just becomes next year’s amusing stories. I decided I should write this one down as I thought it might make a few other people laugh.
Ironically enough, some of the time lying there, smelling my sons vomit wasn’t totally wasted. I’d seen something on a facebook, wall a day or so before that got me thinking and I patched that together with a story beginning I’d worked on recently, into a rough story outline which seems to work, well it does in my head.