Don’t talk to me about Christmas

It's okay, mate, I'm not coming after you this year. Picture: Getty Images/iStockphoto

It's okay, mate, I'm not coming after you this year. Picture: Getty Images/iStockphoto - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

This year, Lynne won’t be cooking Christmas dinner - oh joy, oh bliss

I couldn’t help it. It just slipped out...

No, nothing arrestable. It was the C-word, Christmas. Already the supermarket shelves have moved the Hallowe’en bumpf up one end of the aisle and brought in the tree chocolates. John Lewis is twinkling with fairy lights and, in a knee-jerk reaction, I have collected all the food-ordering brochures.

M&S are offering a three-game roast with pheasant, partridge and pigeon. I don’t think I could go through with it, not with all those wood pigeons in my garden staring at me mournfully through the patio doors. New for this season is a handmade Tudor pie... with the modern addition of cranberries.

Does anyone in 2018 still buy a flan case, arrange mandarin segments in it, top with orange jelly and serve with tinned cream for Christmas tea?

Unlike many of my friends, I will be sending cards. In fact I have already bought them from the local Cards for Good Causes shop, keeping a weather eye on the cards my husband is picking up ? he liked the glittery ones. Once again, this year, I will not be sending out a round robin missive. I like to handwrite an individual message inside the card. Surely it’s what the blank bit on the inside left is for? Anyway, 2018 has been relatively uneventful, so there’s not a great deal to say.

Dear (insert name of person you haven’t seen since 1978)

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I haven’t done much this year.

Love from Lynne.

But, then, it’s only the end of October, there’s still time.

Every year my husband says he would love to go away for Christmas, his eyes lighting up as he imagines the warm glow of chestnuts roasting on an open fire, Jack Frost nipping at his toes etc. Meanwhile I imagine sitting in a hotel dining room surrounded by strangers. Nice strangers, I’m sure, but strangers nonetheless. After a meal which includes mince pies, port and stilton and a selection of seasonal vegetables, you get to meet Father Christmas.

CHILDREN’S SPOILER ALERT. The thing is, I think I know what the one and only FC looks like and he has a real beard, not something that looks like white candy-floss. And his traditional red coat is made of an expensive woollen cloth... not fleecy stuff that brings him out in heat rash.

It’s not that I don’t love Christmas, I really do and, this year, I expect two of my three grandsons (aged six and three) will be so excited about it they’ll be sick. The other one (nine months) will probably spend most of the day happily sitting in an empty gift box.

But it will be different this year because, for the first time in about 35 years, we will not be cooking. We have been invited to spend the day with my son, his wife and their three little boys. This has put me in a quandary. For more than three decades, I have compiled a detailed plan of Christmas Day catering. Now I may have to forgo my master list of lists, three main lists and up to 12 sub-lists. I have also been havering over my Ocado Christmas slot - do I need one? How will I feel if Martin in Cabbage van drives past my house without stopping.

I bought Turkish delight, the other day... and ate it.

On December 25th, I won’t have to get up to put the bird in the oven (those pigeons are staring at me again.) I won’t have to shower and dress in the interval between stuffing the bird and par-boiling the potatoes. On the other hand, baby Herbie likes to get up at 4.30am, so I may pop him in an empty gift box and sip my first sherry before dawn.

But it is odd not to be immersed in planning... although, here’s a thought. Maybe I should write a list of things I don’t need to do.

I’m not one to moan... but it has just cost me £45 to fill my car - not from empty - with petrol at a supermarket pump. My whole car is not worth much more than that.

The BBC website has a petrol price comparison calculator and I gave it a go. I think I must have done something wrong with my decimal point because it told me it costs £52,360.00 to fill my tank. Now there’s a bad case hyper-inflation.

Usefully, it added that I pay £52,307.76 more than average in my country. If there was no tax on the fuel, however, it would cost me only £20,398.40 to fill up.

The basic shopping basket does seem to be getting more expensive... or the contents of the basket are shrinking. I have already spoken of my diminishing McVities digestives, with fewer biscuits, each with a smaller diameter.

There may come a time when I have to choose between petrol and biscuits... ah well, I need the exercise, I suppose.

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