I'd love to actually tell you that Christmas in the Mildew Household, with the addition of Charles Parnsip, was a total disaster, but, actually, it went fairly well.
Mr Parsnip is more excitable about Christmas than a bag full of monkeys on Ecstasy and so went around jumping out on me and daughters #1 and #2 shouting maniacally, 'It's Christmas Eve!!' until #1 turned to him with such disdain that he visibly withered. #2 entered into the general theme of things, though, and carried on where Mr P had left off. It became a bit of white noise to me in the end...
Christmas Eve was a family oriented evening. Mr P had devised a game of charades for us which included such beauties as 'The Muppets' Christmas Carol' [mine]; 'The Nine O'Clock News' [#2's, who suffers with mild dyslexia] and 'If I Said You Had a Beautiful Body (Would You Hold it Against Me)', [put back in the hat by #1 who was suddenly stricken with an abnormal attack of embarrassment).
We then sat down to a game of Buzz. Buzz is a family quiz game for the PS2 which has hand held buzzers, coloured option buttons and it's a game of knowledge and speed. I suffer with an excellent general knowledge of trivial facts which is a sign of a mis-spent youth in pub quizzes, playing strip Trivial Pursuit, and devising Rugby Club Charity Quizzes in my capacity as Social Secretary during my Muscat days. So, no matter how hard I try to NOT win, in order to let aforesaid daughters win, my natural instinct to get it right takes over, and +300 points comes my way...
Unfortunately, this is where the fun ends...#2 is the most competitive creature I have ever come across and takes the hump immediately, berating us vehemently if we press the right answer one millisecond before her and thus get awarded the points. It got to the point where she was so angry with me (in the lead by a long chalk, even after the other contestants were allowed to take pot-shots at me and take my hard-eared winnings) that she stalked off to her bedroom with her thumb in her mouth and hid behind my old skanky double mattress which is waiting for the Local Council to take it away...
It took cajoling and then threats from #1 for her to remove herself. And believe me, when #1 starts threatening, you don't want to be around for the fall-out.
We debated whether to walk to church for Midnight Mass, but we were all dropping, and added to this, it was heaving down with rain outside, so we decided to hit the sack fairly early...
After repeated warnings to the girls NOT to wake us before 6am, as there was NO SANTA CLAUS, I woke up at 6.30am to a quiet household. OK, I thought, I shall go and have a cuppa, see if Sir Matt Chingduvé is online and shoot the breeze with him - after all, I had prepared everything for the day: all the veggies were sorted out; the chicken was oiled and stuffed; the crap had been cleared from the dining table and the plethora of presents I had received from work had been opened so as not to cause presentism between the daughters.
Sir Matt was not around. I sat there, staring at the fairy lights around the French doors, the lights on the tree and the presents under it.
Nothing was happening.
So, I decided to clatter about a bit and turned the radio on - low, mind you - in the hope that the murmering, dulcit tones of Aled Jones would rouse somebody.
I was starting to feel a bit like a brass knocker on a lavatory door. Where was everyone? Where was the excitement of Christmas Day?
At 8.30am, #2 daughter sleepily roused herself and plodded downstairs, thumb still in mouth, wondering what on earth was going on. 'Happy Christmas!!' I exclaimed, excitedly...'Mphmphm Harumphem,' she replied...
After ten minutes, Mr P surfaced, also bleary-eyed and tousled. #2 yelled, 'Guess What?' 'What?' we both chorused. 'It's Christmas Day!!' She had woken up, and with that yell, so did Mr P.
Well, we had to wait and wait and wait for almost teenage #1 daughter to surface from her pit. By ten o'clock, #2 was like a cat on a hot tin roof, desperate to open her presents. At this point, to stop her brains exploding from her ears and her head spinning round reminiscent of The Exorcist, I allowed her to disturb #1. This was probably a very bad move, in retrospect, as #2 returned, limping and in the wars. #1 was not a happy person being woken up from her reverie, Christmas Day or no.
And so the present unwrapping ensued. #2, who can be quite anal like my good self, put all the presents into individual piles and enforced the rule that we had to open a present in turn. It was taking forever. #1 suggested that we just get stuck in and open our gifts there and then. We agreed and a flurry of torn wrapping paper, bows, tags and ribbons quickly filled my once clean carpet.
The rest of the daylight hours were spent mainly in the kitchen for me, preparing an enormous roast dinner. I am not an especial dab hand at this meal, much preferring to do something exotic to a dead fish (as opposed to a live one), but I feel I excelled myself, particularly as #2 actually had seconds.
There was only one interlude where it all felt a bit too much for me. Whirling and dancing my way around the kitchen, bumping drawers shut, sharpening knives, regulating heat settings, I heard #1 shout me from the bathroom. 'Muuuuuum!' I heard. 'Can you come here please?' Oh flippin' 'eck, I thought, What does she want now?
She had the grace to look very sheepish...She had blocked the upstairs lavatory. With something not very pleasant, and not something one wished to see or smell prior to eating. The water was up to the rim of the bowl, and I stared in dismay, wondering how on earth I was going to sort this out, not possessing a plunger of any description. After repeatedly leaving it to settle and having another flush, and noticing an enormous lack of Mr P who had hidden in a neighbour's outhouse, I attacked the S-bend with the loo brush and plunged. My beautiful velvet dress suddenly felt wet as a sloosh of icky water shot up my arm and between my fingers. I retched uncontrollably as #1 got a fit of the giggles in between profuse apologies...
It quite put me off my dinner...
There were further, minor incidents, such as #1 troughing out on chocolate cake which, due to its ingredient of palm oil, caused her to blow up and her face to resemble a Red Snapper, and the vintage port whose cork had rotted and which had to be seived through my brand new stockings in order to remove the sediment and cork bits which were simply not palatable. A somewhat pointed question regarding my sex life which left me gasping for breath and which I refuse to divulge here, and there was also the visit from the ex who was graciously allowed into the living room to see the girls and who resembled, on Christmas Day, a tramp going to a funeral. Nice to see him make the effort for a change. Normally he just looks like a tramp in every day garb.
So, a success all round I would say! I am quite looking forward to New Year's Eve when it will all start again and by Wednesday, when I return to work proper, I shall, no doubt, be glad of the rest.
I hope your Christmasses were as uneventful as mine...
PS. I have been told to inform you all that Mr P's Yorkshire Puddings were fantastic.
"CHARLES' YORKSHIRES WERE FANTASTIC..."