No point denying it. The pressure is on. People are circling the city centre in packs with Christmas pudding hats on their heads and light-up Rudolphs on their chests.
The festive season is right here. Right now.
So how are you doing, domestic argument-wise? How many of the traditional rows have you gone into, full tilt, and how many have you avoided?
Here’s how I am doing, with marks out of five.
It’s just a tree
That’s what my husband says. Every year as the thing lists and wobbles, breaking skin with its porcupine spikes, filling the room with its unwanted girth yet, up top, looking bare enough to make Bob Cratchit ashamed. There’s always a ding-dong about the degree of its lean, a spat about soil, and bricks. Not this year though. I have joined the ranks of the artificial, after years of curling my lip. My tree is a silver homage to the 1970s. Through my uncurtained window you can see its shininess from space. Row rating: A peaceful zero.
I am Mrs Christmas
I say this a lot, and never in a friendly way. And I have variations . Sometimes I am The Christmas Fairy, sometimes I am Santa’s Little Helper. Whatever the phrase it is spat out viciously. I know I am not alone. I know there is a darker truth: that all women fear Christmas. This week, a woman fainted at my exercise class. As we gathered around her prone body, we put her condition down to ...Christmas. When she came round, she agreed. Row rating: For me this year, a simmering three so far. it gets worse in the final week.
What do you think of Christmas cards? I’ve gone off them. After years of declaring that I loved signing glittery red postboxes while sipping a mulled wine, I have realised I don’t. Now my husband does it. but I buy the cards. This year, I am lifting the domestic veil to reveal that there was a row, a row which resulted in me hurling several boxes of glittery postboxes clear across the room. I feel better now. Row rating: a nuclear five.
We had better get two
Or three, or four. You know, the scenario. You are in the supermarket on the Big Shop, clutching your Big List, and you are standing in front of the double cream/the mince pies/ the jars of pickled onions.
Your partner is with you to help carry the load out of the door and he reaches out to take one of the listed item. One! Any fool knows that at Christmas you need multi-packs of everything. At Christmas you need abundance, one is never enough. I am not here to defend this position, I think it’s nuts (two packs, please) but there it is. Women know this but men don’t. They think it is about buying what you actually need. What nonsense. Row rating: a simmering one, but only because we have only bought the beer so far.
The carve up.
I’ll tell you now that I haven’t had this row yet, and I’m pretty sure you won’t have had it either. But I am on edge. I’m anxious. Carving the turkey. It shouldn’t be that big a deal should it? I will have cooked it, using whatever method I have read about in the final countdown to Christmas morning. Over the years I’ve brined, I‘ve draped with a tea towel soaked in butter, I’ve done everything but serve it as a kebab. That leaves JUST ONE JOB. But my memory keeps returning to The Incident. The one with the electric carving knife. Yes, I requested that the turkey be carved with my latest gadget, but I didn’t mean at the table. And I didn’t envisage all our guests being splattered with globs of flying meat as bits of turkey sprayed in all directions. But that’s what happened. It was like the St Valentine’s Day massacre, but with cooked turkey.
Row rating: Inevitable - it’s all fun though, isn’t it?
I want to be frozen, and I’m not talking Disney films
Here’s what happens first thing in the morning now: I look out of the window with hope in my heart for signs of... frost.
I know that’s not how it’s meant to be. People gaze out of windows for the first snowdrops of spring, for the first rose of summer, they don’t generally go seeking ice and cold.
But a bright, frosty day is a thing of great beauty. It’s sharp and bold and brilliant.
And we folk who grew up before central heating, and remember ice patterns on the inside of the windows, we miss all that cold, especially now that we can run inside and turn the heating up to tropics level, if we are feeling reckless.
I love all our seasons and I mourn the way they are morphing into one another. In winter I want the snap of the cold, I want the bugs killed off, I want the temperature outside to turn my cheeks red, I want to need my hat and gloves and scarf.
So far, winter has been a wet, mild disappointment. So mild that I swear my cat has an unseasonal bout of fleas, which isn’t what I was hoping to be dealing with as Christmas approaches.
So when I see that delicate pattern icing the ground I feel like I am seeing something increasingly precious and delicate. I don’t curse it, I want it to last longer than it does.
For a few weeks of the year, I want to see the bare bones of nature rimed with sugary crystals.
I want to be frozen, and I am not talking about anything to do with that Disney film.