29th December 16.30
Christmas is pretty much over now isn't it?
Even so, tonight we're having my Mum's side of the family over for a last Christmas get-together. It's a little late but I'm really happy about the fact that the festivities get dragged on just a little bit longer. I've tried my best to stay festive this year by avoiding anything to do with the "end" of Christmas - mainly the sales; I find that huge crush of people just a little bit off-putting and it really dampens those happy Christmas feelings to think of everyone cramming into the shops just looking to buy more stuff for the sake of it (you can tell I've worked in retail can't you?)
On the other hand, let's not pretend everything is completely rosy in my house. My Mum had been under the weather for the weeks leading up to Christmas and as such was completely calm and docile in the final run up. Of course, I did feel very sorry for her... but it was actually quite nice; there was none of the usual stress, shrieking or constant bickering between my parents as she was just too unwell to react to the standard idiocy of my Dad.
Fortunately and unfortunately in equal measure, she is now better after a course of antibiotics. Which means that the stress has been displaced and is now being used to ensure we are all well and truly frantic before the rest of the family gets here tonight. Right now, we're all hearing the fallout of a misunderstanding about which sausages to buy. Mum said cocktail sausages, Dad thought buying whichever sausages (full-size) were on offer was a good choice. Mum is a massive perfectionist, Dad is a tightwad bastard (also on the Autistic spectrum) so you can imagine the arguments that are occurring.
Luckily it won't be too long before the rest of the family arrives and then it will be full steam ahead for pretences of happy families again :D and if not, at least the Cointreau is on hand...
Most of the food is ready and there's still no sign of our guests. Ok, so 5pm is really early to ask people round for dinner but we're English, so that's just the way we are. If Michele were here, he'd be rolling his eyes and teasing me about how English people have dinner so early although to be honest, we're likely to be eating well into the night (or, I am at least).
What can I say, I'm a traditional Porter! Har har...
Finally everyone is here, including my poor cousin who couldn't get out of the office!
Bertie is sitting underneath the buffet table giving us all his best puppy eyes for snippets of food. I have to say, it's working pretty well, especially as the alcohol is flowing rather freely and nobody can resist a face like that!
Mum has managed to get herself stuck in the cheesecake packaging (only the freshest produce in our household!) which I suspect is mainly a product of the fact that three bottles of prosecco now stand empty on our kitchen work surface and she's practically the only one drinking it (ok fine, I'm doing my part too...)
Bertie meanwhile has still not given up.
However, the most difficult pudding of all turns out to be the interesting Heston number my Auntie has brought over. A rich chocolate cake with mulled fruits, ginger and white chocolate marzipan, it's definitely intriguing most of us. Unfortunately it's also quite dense and our knife is struggling to slice through it. Every time somebody asks for some, Mum looks like she's on the brink of despair.
The kitchen has seriously overheated and as there are about 16 of us squeezed into a rather small space, we all move into the lounge to stretch out and rest our legs.
Bertie and I are having a lovely cuddle and I decide to get a picture seeing as we're both sitting so prettily in front of the tree. My sister takes about seven really blurry ones that make me look like I have two faces. Just as she manages to hold the camera still, Bert decides he's had enough and makes a break for it meaning our only photo together from this Christmas is this one:
Drunk mummy whips the games out and organises some kind of pub quiz. We split into teams according to household and begin a rather silly half hour in which we lose spectacularly on pretty much every round.
Worse still, Mum (who I should add is a primary school teacher) is so merry that she manages to mark the other team wrong every time we ourselves got the question wrong even if they actually got it right, resulting in a rather political affair over the final placings and screeches of laughter filling our tiny home.
After everybody left a couple of hours later, I settled back on the sofa with another glass of my homemade alcoholic Fanta (prosecco and Cointreau), a huge plate of bread and cheese (M&S's pie d'anglois is the best thing that has ever happened to British supermarket cheese counters) and the Big Fat Quiz of the Year on TV which I only half watch as I slip into a semi-conscious state.
An excellent and incredibly silly end to the Christmas season!