The Bloke

I'VE been accused by The Missus of failing to get into the Christmas spirit.

It's because this year I've refused to allow myself to get carried away with the pre-Christmas hype, which I find can only make the actual Christmas experience itself seem like a complete and utter letdown.

In my mind it's a bit like the build-up to the release of The Phantom Menace, and look where that got us.

So in order to preserve the tiny sprinkling of magic still left after all these years, I have taken it upon myself to make some hardline decisions over when and where Christmas can begin.

Up to now I've insisted on the television being switched over whenever a Christmas advert has appeared.

Christmas films have been a no-no and the first few bars of Christmas songs by the likes of Wizzard, Slade and Paul McCartney have had me diving for the mute button. Although, to be fair, they probably would anyway.

No, not until today, when my chocolate advent calendar tells me there are just four sleeps left until Christmas Day, have I decided that Christmas can finally commence.

Which means that we now have to address the thorny issue of where we spend Christmas.

You would think the answer to this question would be quite simple. At home.

But it's not. Last Christmas Day we were at the Missus' auntie's because she usually spent it with the Missus' mum and dad but they were in Australia visiting the Missus' sister who lives out there.

This means I'm duty-bound to go to my mum and dad's this year and I hoped the Missus would join me.

But sadly her auntie passed away in the summer so it means her mum and dad would be on their own on Christmas Day, which doesn't seem right.

It means that in order to keep everyone happy we'll be apart on Christmas Day. That much we know.

The question is, what do we do then?

The plan we've come up with is that the Missus gets the train to my mum and dad's on Boxing Day (if there are any still running, obviously).

We spend a couple of days there, then drive back to her mum and dad's for a day or so, then both drive home from there.

Then when we're back home we'll have our own Christmas Day on our own.

By this point, the chances are I'll be feeling very jealous of my mate Ivan.

He's got round all this palaver by inviting his relatives to spend Christmas with him. What a nightmare, I hear you say, having your family staying with you over Christmas.

But that's where Ivan gets really clever: he's installed them in the local hotel.

You have to admit, that really is genius. All the family commitments fulfilled without even leaving the comfort of your own home. And you even get to kick them out after the evening meal.

No wonder he always used to get the best grades at school.

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