A number of my French friends have enquired whether my beloved and I are returning to the UK to spend Xmas with our families. The answer is unequivocally – NO!
I recall reading somewhere that the most stressful events are, in no particular order, death of a spouse or immediate family member, divorce, moving house, a family holiday and spending Xmas with your relatives. Inviting more people than you can happily seat or cater for to a blow-out Xmas Day luncheon challenges even the most gifted hostesses.
When we were growing up, we regularly spent Xmas with (childless) friends of my parents. You might be thinking my parents did this to avoid alternating Xmas’s with the grandparents. But this wasn’t an issue for us. My Dad’s an orphan and I saw my grandmother, who lived with my aunt and uncle, every week.
When we married, we spent our first Xmas with my beloved’s recently widowed mother (aka the outlaw) and Boxing Day with my parents. I believe I may have mentioned that my mother-in-law’s cooking carries a government health warning. Her modus operandi is to nuke everything. So, no weight gain that Xmas.
The following Xmas we were aiming for a similar arrangement but in reverse order: Xmas Day with my parents and Boxing Day with the outlaw. On Xmas morning, my beloved cracked his head open on the door lintel prompting a quick trip to A&E where they patched him up, gave him a tetanus injection but forgot (or so he claimed) to tell him to steer clear of alcohol. Cue Boxing Day morning and my beloved was feeling too unwell to travel to the outlaw’s.
Xmas number three and, fearing we were heading for a precedent, which might be difficult to break, we decided to visit friends in Hamburg. Indeed, most years, work schedules permitting, our preferred option has been to take vacation over Xmas, and spend it skiing. Hence, fairly early on, we established that our custom and practice was doing our own thing.
Of course, we have spent a couple of Xmas’s with my family, largely at my husband’s behest. In general, it’s once every 8-10 years, where they come and stay with us and I do all the catering, clearing up etc etc etc.
This year, we’ll once again be having a quiet Xmas at home. Treating ourselves to a little of our favourite foods while burning off any excess calories on the bike. I will endeavour to restrict my beloved’s access to our home office to an hour or so a day, leaving us plenty of time to tackle outstanding jobs, such as hanging our new artwork.