Hilary Fannin: The house is quiet, the turkey’s out having her nails done
Is it unreasonable to speculate calm and solitude might be an aspiration this year?
Sweet little chaps pleading through their icing mouths for an extra few buttons on their elongated bellies and the loan of a tenner to buy Ronan Keating’s Christmas album.
So we’ve finally (if temporarily) managed to chew through the lockdown cage, just in time, it seems, to get our incisors into a giddy maelstrom of Christmas planning. Oh yippee-dippy-doo.
No doubt you’re way ahead of the game already, your halls decked, your bows hollied. Sure, what else had you to be doing during those long Covid nights, only fashioning a string of cocktail sausages out of boredom and despair?
Me, I’m frighteningly ready for the season. I’ve been out of the blocks since Easter, baking edible Christmas-tree decorations, toasting elves and knitting myself a real-life, red-nosed reindeer.
Speaking of which, I sincerely hope you’ve managed to find those cute little caribou horns to decorate your motor car. The ones you chucked under the stairs last January. There’s nothing quite so jolly as being rammed up one’s rear end by an impatient shopper with a pair of flaccid antlers sticking out of the side of their SUV, while you’re snaking around the supermarket car park looking for a space.
I do love this time of year, though, all the bustle and business and buying and basting. Why, just this morning I pulled myself out of my fetid bed at dawn to stud my hanging mandarins with pungent cloves and make sugarcraft snowflakes to shower over the turkey.
I must admit that I’m a little exhausted. I’d only meant to plant a pear tree, crochet a few turtle doves and make festive napkin rings out of a cornflake box when, next thing, the kitchen was veritably overrun with gingerbread men! I must have fashioned them in my sleep, begad!
Sweet little chaps they were too, pleading through their icing mouths for an extra few buttons on their elongated bellies and the loan of a tenner so that they could purchase a copy of Ronan Keating’s Christmas album.
“Oh, don’t you start,” I hear you mutter dangerously from underneath the kitchen sink, where you’re looking for a box of tacks to string up your LED fairy lights. “I’ve had just about enough of your nonsense, missy! It’s been a tough year and we all deserve a bit of Christmas cheer.”
I couldn’t agree more, mate. I suppose, though, that one man’s glögg is another man’s giblets. It’s hardly unreasonable to speculate that, for some of us who may have found ourselves living cheek by jowl with family for most of the year, a little calm and solitude might just be a sufficient aspiration for this particular festive season.
A book by the fireside, a slowly setting sun and the phone off the hook, as opposed to standing in a socially distanced queue outside the off-licence to buy half a bottle of brandy that you’re shortly going to set fire to. Not to mention the hours of fun involved in lashing around to the decimated German supermarket on Christmas Eve, in search of a forgotten bag of parsnips, then getting home again and remembering that you’ve no lemons.
Lemons! And cat food! Oh shag it, the yowling moggie can eat the nut roast – someone’s got to.
Look, don’t get me wrong. There are many aspects of Christmas that I thoroughly enjoy, most particularly its aftermath, the empty days before New Year when you get to go for a long walk to a quiet bar. Mind you, it’s essential, in the route-planning stages of your walk, to find somewhere devoid of tricycles, electric scooters, hungover parents and over-stimulated, over-tired, chocolate-stained children.
A bar in winter, eh? It’s been so long since I’ve been out and about that I don’t know whether I’m remembering or merely imagining past times meeting up with friends in an actual pub (wet, dry or vaguely damp).
There is an image that I turn over like a worn coin in the bottom of my pocket, of a darkening evening, a ticking clock, of the snap and whisper of flames from an open grate, of the slow lift of a cold glass . . . Maybe I dreamt it, maybe I just appropriated it for my personal memory bank from an ad on the telly.
Anyway, you better get your skates on. You’ve got the guts of two weeks left to make your Christmas fairy quiver.
There’s really nothing more to be done around here: the house is quiet, the turkey’s out having her nails done and the cat is quietly getting dug into the gin. I think I’ll go back to bed.