It doesn’t matter what sort of life you have carved out for yourself –nice friends, an active social life, a home you like living in, a lovely little long-term romantic relationship, a stylish wardrobe, a full gym membership, respectful colleagues, a fabulous coffee maker – it all goes to absolute shit when you are once again surrounded by a group of your extended relatives.
Yes, there are people who have to face Christmas without family, or money, or alone, or in the wake of terminal illness, in war, or after a close bereavement. Their pain – of course -is much deeper and more profound than those of us who just had to face the hideous onslaught of familial criticism and Mrs Brown’s Boys.
That being said; my family can go and fuck themselves.
It started on Christmas Eve.
The eight additional adults and two additional children I was welcoming into my home –six of whom only left today (2nd January) – entered the house on Christmas Eve in the early afternoon and by half six my mother was crying.
What terrible injustice had she been served on this, the sacred annual celebration of the Eve before Christ’s birth? I’d put half a tablespoon of Garam Masala in a three-litre quantity of a Jamie Oliver Parsnip Soup recipe.
My mother had requested Parsnip Soup some six weeks before Christmas, because she’s on a ridiculous protein diet and wanted something (and I quote) “to look forward to” so I scoured the fucking internet, shopped for the fucker, and found myself going next door to borrow a fucking blender from my twatty next door neighbours to accommodate her request.
You’ll just have to take my word for how ill suited I am to the role of middle-class soup maker. I don’t even like soup.
My mother and I have lived on some of the shittest council estates in Greater Manchester, and the monumental personal difficulty I experienced whilst reading Jamie’s mockney recipe instructions (and subsequent twee “soup community forum” comments), buying organic vegetable stock and swallowing my pride and knocking on next door’s for an implement I wasn’t sure they possessed and didn’t know how to use was my little Christmas present to her. And how was I repaid?
She wailed about Christmas being ruined “You KNOW I don’t like curry!” (once again, half a teaspoon of Garam Masala in three litres of fluid, akin to pissing in a swimming pool) in front of my six year old kid, and that pretty much set the tone for Christmas.
Christmas Day went the way it went in pretty much every household in Britain. Those that should have been drunk, weren’t, and those that shouldn’t ever drink, were hammered by half four.
My mother wore a white tuxedo, obviously. My brothers (early thirties) hijacked the computer games console and then spent two and a half hours sulking about a perceived injustice pertaining to the result of said game. Three quarters of an hour were spent barking pidgin Italian to foreign relatives down the phone. I cooked the dinner, served the dinner, cleared up after the dinner and washed the dining receptacles totally unaided. My brother’s girlfriend gave my stepdad a sort of lap dance. My other brother had a row with my mother about paedophile priests and the lunacy of organised religion, and at one point my mum came down in my dressing gown which was definitely in my bedroom, folded up in the drawer underneath my sex toys.
Since Christmas Day I have been to Yorkshire for a couple of days and my family STAYED. In my house. I wasn’t there. They all live up the road.
On New Year’s Eve when – for a fleeting moment – everyone seemed amiable and in reasonably high spirits my ma did this thing she does when she’s not the centre of attention and asked us all to remember dead people who weren’t there. In the epicentre of a moment of global enforced sentimentality and morose retrospection, my mother harnessed the mood and brought it squarely back to her and her sequinned fucking body con dress. And, you know, in a way you have to admire the plucky fucker.
We also spent an arduous afternoon in an Italian restaurant on New Year’s Day, which involved my brother’s girlfriend wearing only a bra on her upper torso, and my mother asking if they had any gluten-free coconut cake. They didn’t.
But going back to the original point, it’s not about family specifics or race or class or gender. Whenever you return to your family, you’ll always be whatever role they have carved out for you from an early age.
If you’re the selfish cunt, you’ll always be the selfish cunt to them, whether you spend your life volunteering for Oxfam and saving dead seals, or not. If you’re the lovely one, like say, my youngest brother, you could spend your days butchering small children and still be saved the turkey breast and given the last Quality Street Purple One.
Which sort of explains Russell Brand and Miley Cyrus.
So chin up, selfish cunts and next year – go on holiday.