Saturday, 17 November 2007

Christmas with the Mildews...

Have you ever felt as though the weeks pass by without you being able to catch up on yourself? I am sure at least one of our two dear readers does. This year has flown by with much event - my mother has sent me to Coventry at least five times; I have had three jobs; hexed my ex three times and got engaged once. I'm quite a busy bee, wouldn't you say?

I am 100% convinced that it will be Christmas Tree-putting-up-time soon. I always try to hold off until the very last, as I tend to put all the chocolate decorations on the tree and then worry about them melting, so I eat them within 24 hours. But this year, I am resolved to be a bit more stalwart.

The week before last, as I was driving home, listening, as is my wont, to Radio 2, Chris Evans was interviewing a chap from Fortnum and Mason, about their £20,000 hamper. The interview itself was just a load of blah, but I was rather disgusted that Mr Evans proceeded to play a Christmas song and banged on about what a 'marvellous time of the year' it was. No. It was bloody November. Just after Bonfire Night: nothing going on. IT IS NOT A MARVELLOUS TIME OF THE YEAR...

Everywhere I go, I am being bombarded with Christmas. As I am one of the most disorganised people you could ever have the misfortune to meet, I find it rather offensive that I am having reminders of Christmas stuffed down my neck.

Christmas in the Mouldsworth B.M. (Before Marriage) household, was a very sedate affair. I can't remember the tree ever going up (if at all) before 20th December, and there were never any presents or cards left under the tree. This lack of tradition engendered in me an impatience and inability to maintain a surprise which still lives with me today: for example, four weeks ago, I went out with the view to attempting to organise presents - I bought stacks...then I gave them all out the following weekend. Rubbish...

I have to be honest and say that, on the whole, my Christmas Days are a total wash-out. I have this ridiculous notion that they will be romantic, snowy, sparkly and wit-filled, and in reality, they are boring, damp, grey and twit-filled. Last year, I spent Christmas alone, excepting a bottle of Toilet Duck and the bog brush - and I was in my element! I had been to church; made a sarcastic comment to the priest about Church Service +1 (having attended Christmas Eve, too, and discovering a repeat), eaten a bit of smoked cod and brocolli, and girded my loins for the presence of an ex who was most unwanted, but had begged an audience to personally present me with a Christmas card on his own miserable Christmas Day. It was unutterably dull, and had I had the opportunity to work, I would have done.

My first Christmas with the ex was a very excitable affair as he liked real trees, whereas I was used to plastic naff ones. I smoked myself into oblivion, as the trend, in 1992, was for sparkly parcels dangling from the tree, which were exorbitantly priced. Each joyfully smoked packet of 10 or 20 B & H was wrapped in purple or gold spangly paper, tied with a bit of gold string, and suspended from the branches of the tree. I saved us a fortune in decorations, (but not in fags) which appealled greatly to the ex's frugal Yorkshire mentality.

In order to save even more money that Christmas, the ex went out shooting and bagged a couple of hares. I had frozen loads of blackberries from the autumn hedgerows and blanched plenty of organic (read, covered in caterpillars and grubs) vegetables and planned a Christmas lunch fit for a poor, young couple, living in sin.

Having marinaded the hare in left-over lager from the night before, and glazed it with honey and blackberries, the ex and I decided to cycle up to the local pub for a cup of cheer while the hare roasted. The weather was foul: sleeting, bitterly cold, icy wind, and the roaring fire in The Hare and Hounds was most welcoming...so much so, that we got stuck in to a fair number of pints of Old Scrotum before I realised, with a start, that I had a hare to care for.

We precariously cycled back, wobbling more than was quite safe on an extremely fast country lane, and fell into the house...to be met by a wall of black smoke.

The hare had shrunk to the size of a small guinea pig and was totally unsalvageable - apart from giving it to the cat. The ex and I looked at each other in dismay, and, ever one to make light of a situation, I rifled through our tiny freezer compartment and rustled up some chicken nuggets to go with the carrots and broccoli. It wasn't actually a bad meal, all things considered, and the cat thoroughly enjoyed his offerings. It took until New Year for the smell of smoke to vanish from the kitchen, even though I kept the back door open as much as was possible with the bitter cold - then again, the gap under the stable door was so enormous, allowing mice to walk through upright if they so wished, that it didn't make that much difference.

So this year, I vowed that the girls and I would be going out for Christmas Lunch and there would be little, if no, palava. However, all the best laid plans go to waste with me, I have left it way too late to book anywhere, and I now have another mouth to feed in the shape of Charles Parsnip. I am considering how to complain enough to get out of doing it - if it was just the girls and myself, no doubt there would be three different meals to cook: I would be on my fish or seafood, #1 would be on the chicken, and #2 would pick at bread and Nutella. However, Mr P appears to like his traditional meal with all the trimmings as has been evinced by mention of joints, roasts, Yorkshire pudding, sausages wrapped in bacon etc. and I am starting to get frown lines above my nose from thinking too hard.

It's a pity the chippy isn't open...

18 comments:

Mark Dykeman said...

Ahhhh, that's better. Cheers!

Keli said...

If it's any comfort, I have similar romantic Christmas visions - only in my part of the world, the weather is usually boring, hot, sunny and twit-filled. But then where would my blog be without the twits?
I was officially exhausted after reading your account of the ex and the hare. After lying down and feeling again refreshed, may I suggest Mr. P prepare the feast? After all, you hold the purse strings.

Charles Parsnip said...

Mr. P will most assuredly be preparing whatever Agnes lets him get his grubby hands on. After all, hexing doesn't stop for Christmas, and Ms. Mildew is a very Busy And Superior Person.

Agnes Mildew said...

Mark: Your prompt startled me into action - I'd had this burbling away on the back burner. Glad you got your fix!

Keli: Well, it might be worth a try. No doubt he will tear his hair out (that's singular, by the way) when he realises just how fussy the Mildew Household is where our grub is concerned.

Charles: Glad to see the message is starting to sink in.

Matt Chingduvé said...

I miss the old Chingduvé family Christmas blowout where everybody would get completely ripped on booze and very cantankerous, usually ending in assault and damage to property. Those were the days! This year I intend to recreate the old times by sitting in a chair, listening to the Mario Lanza Christmas Album, getting hammered on booze and arguing with the Budgies! This really WILL be as much fun as it sounds!

Stealth said...

You need to go watch the videos on my blog of us "helping" Karen put up her Christmas tree.

alcoment said...

I normally have to go to my parents' for Christmas each year (unless I'm working, which happens quite often!!) and the day never seems to match my mothers visions of the happy family sat round the table, all cheery with full stomachs. The reality is normally the family, quite mardy, full of alcohol and about to start a brussel sprout war!

fishwithoutbicycle said...

You would love Christmas in New York, you can order takeaway and have it delivered, go to the movies and even do your supermarket shopping if that is your want since some places stay open. It's very bizarre for a Brit used to everything coming to a halt for at least one day a year.

Hope said...

This year has gone by fast. Ethan just redoecarted the hallway with tongihts dinner so maybe we will get out of going to the inlaws for dinner or at the very least I'll make sure he licks the cutlery for a few of my favorite people.

Agnes Mildew said...

Matt: Your Christmas sounds fantastic. Where's Shoebox Manor again?

Stealth: I shall certainly take a peek into that video nasty!!

Alcoment: We could always send a petition to No. 10 banning Family Christmasses on the grounds of unsociability - they are much more antisocial than smoking in a pub...

Fish: That is a strange Christmas...ordering takeaway. Do they do Vindaloos?

Hope: Ah! A secret weapon in your hands. Excellent. I think you should send a bit of that my way for when I am dealing with idiots at work!

thewishfulwriter said...

so, you'd probably think less of me if I told you I'm the girl who got excited about seeing Christmas decorations at Halloween, huh?....

Agnes Mildew said...

Heather: So it's YOU and your ilk who force me to go a bit wild-eyed at the end of summer is it? No sooner is it Back to Skool, then it's Christmas...I swear I caught a glimpse of an Easter egg the other day...

Linda and her Surroundings said...

I have Christmas on the eve of the 24th and so the 25th is a weird day for me. Now that my father does not talk to me, my mother lives in another state, mother in law pegged it, father in law in loopy land nursing home, big sister hates me, little sister lives near mother, the season has certainly lost it's oomph factor. Still, 1st December out comes the big tree and gets decorated.

My son loves it though and that is what counts.

Personally I think that the Boxing Day sales make it ALL worth while.

Agnes Mildew said...

Linda: Were we separated at birth? I think you have the same family as me, actually. And the same mentality! Boxing Day sales and the days off from work are the best things about the 'Festive Season' for me, most definitely!

Barbara Doduk said...

Every time I come by I am highly amused. This post made me snort. HA

Agnes Mildew said...

Barbara: Hello there! Thanks for dropping by - don't stay so quiet in the future!

Girl Fren' said...

Alice, dear, your Christmases past and future have an absolutely Dickensian note to them. As I'm an American whose silly head fills with Visions of Sugarplums at the slightest provocation, and our Christmas season begins the last Friday of November, we run full-tilt until Christmas Day.

An old friend, referring to moi, said, "You get more mileage out of Christmas than anyone I've known." She was fatally injured in an after-season sale several seasons back (Christmas makes me alliterate. Sorry.) She therefore did not live to see me go from being Tiny Tim to Ebenezer Scrooge.

By the By, I missed the news about Mr. P (will you be taking his name?) One comment about his enthusiasm for the feast: "Of course he's dreaming of a Roast Stag with all the trimmings." He'd be the person sitting with his thumbs hooked in his trousers band waiting to be called to the heavily laden table.

Come to the States & drink dinner with me!

Agnes Mildew said...

Girl Fren': Your offer of supping Christmas Dinner with you sounds an offer almost too good to refuse - no world war 3 to contend with, no sweating over a hot stove, and no perpetual search for the right batteries. Hmmm...why didn't you invite me earlier?