As the memory of the festive season fades into a tinselly blur, I can't help thinking that Christmas is rather like sex. It occurs infrequently, commands a massive build up and is, more often than not, disappointing. I do enjoy the excitement leading up to the event, but at some point during proceedings I wish I was somewhere else with somebody else doing something else. And then the minute it's all over, I just want to clear up the mess and be left alone with my book. In the lead up to the event I can think of nothing else - everyone's going on about it, all the magazines you read tell you the best way to do it, how to do it on a budget, how to make it special, how our grandparents did it, why we do it, why some people don't do it, whether you should do it or not, how far you should go with it, how many people you should do it with, how to do it on your own and how to alleviate the guilt once you've done it. My motto is to make the most of it - it won't be happening again in a hurry.
The preparation involves stockings, lighting candles and even watching a suitable DVD to get me in the mood (The Muppets or Morecambe and Wise will usually do the trick.) And don't forget those last-minute purchases.
“I thought you were bringing some”
“Well, I thought you had some in the cupboard”
“I do, but they're out of date”
“Does it matter?”
“Well, I don't know. I don't really want to take the risk”
“Oh God, I suppose we'll have to go out and get some then.”
“There won't be anywhere open now!”
“Then we'll just have to improvise!”
I try playing with some of my toys, but I spot the words “Batteries not included” on the box. As for the beautiful Norway Spruce, once so spectacular and erect, well, it's drooped and made a mess all over the carpet. And the turkey has dried out despite repeated basting. There's nothing worse than a dry bird on an occasion like this.
It never seems to turn out the way I'd hoped. Other people seem to enjoy it much more than I do. At the end of it, I know I've over-indulged. I've been lying around for hours, I stink of it and know there's a lot of mess to clear up. Well, better get on with it. Those sheets won't wash themselves...