Our thanks to Wendy for sharing this pre-Christmas feature. Look out for part two tomorrow. Ed
By the time you read this I hope to be relaxing while someone else washes up and someone ELSE walks the dog and someone ELSE AGAIN puts things away in the wrong cupboards. We’ll all be feeling full, and the Scrabble tiles will be white hot from use.
But just now, as I write, there are five more sleeps to Christmas and my extended family has yet to descend.
One adult daughter is already here, much to the delight of her kid brother; two more will need picking up from the Red Jet at some point before Christmas Eve (giving me or their dad just enough notice so we get there five minutes late).
And some more …
Then there are two teenage nephews, being sent on ahead by train and ferry by my sister and her husband, because THEIR car will be full of Christmas presents, their dog and my aged parents from the north.
My aunt and her friend are joining us for lunch on Christmas Eve, and my in-laws and sister-in-law Christmas day evening.
You get the idea. We host Christmas at ours. And I love it.
Transformation of home to hotel
But the week prior to Christmas? Not so much. Turning the house into a hotel (or as close as it’ll ever be to one) is not my forte.
I worked as a hotel dogsbody for a summer when I was 19: reception, waitressing, bed-making, washing up (or “kitchen portering”, as the head kitchen porter, a burly ex-convict, reminded me sharply when I made the mistake of referring to him as a “washer-upper”).
The Basil Fawlty-esque manager yelled at me for not knowing what Coquilles St Jacques was, criticised my shaky silver-service technique and my too-liberal dessert-trolley portion sizes (this was high-end dining, 1970s-style). I decided that the hospitality industry wasn’t for me.
Different for family
But catering for family is different. It feels necessary. It (usually) feels worth it. If only there weren’t so many things to do (or get others to do) BY CHRISTMAS.
Mundane, fiddly things. Mostly involving plumbing and screws and clearing out cupboards you’ve avoided peering too closely into all year.
Ian had offered to take our son to London with him for the day, on condition he tidied up his Lego first. Miracle: it had happened. The house was eerily quiet. It was time to get cracking. I looked at the list.
Come back tomorrow (Tuesday) to find out what was on the list and how Wendy managed to get through it in time.