Advent 13: That Was The Worst Christmas…

That was the worst Christmas I:
I returned home for Christmas on Christmas Eve. Christmas with my family runs along traditional timings that we’ve developed. There’s a wonderful familiarity knowing that Christmas Eve I can expect a roasted joint of ham, mashed potatoes & red cabbage cooked with sultanas.

When I returned that Christmas Eve lunchtime there was something missing. There wasn’t the familiar buzz of industry in the kitchen, the house was strangely on a low ebb.
I asked my Dad where everyone was, his was a one word reply: Norovirus.
There should have been a large white cross on the front door.
I had lunch. Doused myself in disinfectant & waited for the vomiting to start.

An hour or so later I was pottering in the kitchen & could feel another palpable absence. I scanned the surfaces & tried to place it. I knew if I stood there long enough I’d eventually get it. Wait… Wait… Wait for it. No turkey defrosting.

The minimum number for Christmas Dinner is usually five adults and assorted children. We have a big turkey to cook. It usually takes a couple of days to defrost. (Mum has a separate fridge for it to defrost in) The massive turkey for dinner was resting in the freezer still deeply frozen.

My Dad hands me thirty quid at three in the afternoon on Christmas Eve & sends me off on foot to find a turkey. So I head to the nearest high street: Cradley Heath High Street. (This story happens before the opening of the Tesco superstore obliterated the lovely independent shops)

I hit Iceland, nothing. The market isn’t open. I’m starting to panic. I’m starting to look for a couple of big chickens instead of one HUGE turkey. Panic. Panic. Rush into the butchers and pour out my woes to the butcher. He’s got the last turkey in Cradley Heath. The butcher starts telling me about where the turkey was raised & how he knows the farmer, what it was fed.
I think I snapped that he had the last fresh turkey, I had money in my pocket & that he was going to make a sale. I just needed to know how much the turkey was going to cost. (Not my finest hour and he was doing a good job)
I paid for the turkey, double bagged it & then lugged it onto my back. Yes, I looked like that little boy at the end of A Christmas Carol struggling through the streets lugging an oversized turkey on my back.
I arrive home feeling triumphant & my back feeling a bit sore. My Dad casts his eye over the turkey & judges it “a little on the large size”. He was smiling so I think he was joking. (My Dad knows how to wind people up. It’s one of the many things I love about him, he’s willing to wind almost anyone up)
So, I saved Christmas & ended up spending most of Boxing Day vomiting as I succumbed to the Norovirus.

That was the worst Christmas II
Last Christmas I somehow got stuck with the label of “Not Celebrating Christmas”. Every time someone handed me a card I’d be told “of course you don’t celebrate Christmas”. As people headed off for leave they’d say “I’d say Merry Christmas but you know…” and they’d gesture at me as if that was an explanation.
Then things took a bit of a turn. Each time I’d leave my desk I’d return to find a blow up Santa in my seat. Ha ha, funny first time. It got very old by the end of the second day. Then someone took it upon themselves to decorate my desk with tinsel.
I know I can be a bit of a grinch about things from time to time but I love Christmas. It’s an important festival in the Christian faith. You don’t get Easter without Christmas. It’s also a great time for getting people together. I think I don’t get on with some of the showiness of Christmas. The ads on telly, houses decorated with increasingly absurd decorations. Some expression of the Christmas season don’t have the ring of authenticity, it just seems like festive one-upmanship.
I eventually snapped when behind my desk were a series of Christmas toys that played music. I took the batteries out & hid them in my desk drawer. Again, not my finest hour but this was the first time I’d seen Christmas being used as a weapon.

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