OUR fridge is a war zone.
Small crumbs of indeterminate cheeses lurk in advanced stages of opalescent decay within slimy plastic wrappings that are so bacteria-laden they could wipe out the population of China.
A bowl of four-day-old remnant salad that would be a credit to an Elm Street horror movie is climbing out of the upturned plate that is trying to suppress it. We forgot to paint a crucifix on it.
In the door there are four bottles of what once contained fine wines (red and white), sherry, and ancient port, but that now contain only the memory of Christmas and a few poisonous dregs with which my wife, no doubt, intends ruining the soup.
If Christmas is about the birth of Christ then I’m suffering from post-natal depression.
I blame the children.
They have gone now, but for four days they have been sweeping through the house like a Viking horde, pillaging anything that wasn’t nailed down. I’ve been avoiding the neighbours. Pillaging might not have been sufficient to slake their festive thirst.
Christmas is a time of little treats. In a spirit of goodwill and bonhomie I spent the extra cash and bought an imported Roquefort cheese because… well, Christmas is a time of little treats.
I dug deep and bought my wife Belgian chocolates that had been flown over in carefully controlled climatic conditions so the cream — real cream — didn’t go off before the big day arrived.
I bought a dessert wine that cost more per pound than truffles.
And I invited the kids.
What’s Christmas without kids? Christmas was made for kids. It’s a time when we remember how enchanting the joys of parenthood are – even when the kids are aged 21 to 32.
At least for the first five minutes. Until you discover the little sods have fed the chocolates to the dog, melted the Roquefort into the macaroni cheese on Christmas Eve, and drunk the dessert wine as beer chasers at 3am on Christmas morning when they should have been in bed trying hard to go to sleep for Santa’s imminent arrival.
They’ve gone now. All five of them, and they’ve taken their partners with them. Well they would, wouldn’t they? There’s nothing left here to stay for. The turkey has been picked cleaner than desert bones; the ham, what was left of it, followed the chocolate into the dog, the pudding met the same fate on the evening of Christmas Day that the dessert wine met on Christmas Eve.
If there is such a thing as karma my children and their partners will return in the next life as termites. Or vultures.
I waved them off when they went. Very cheery, they were. I think they had a nice time. On the way back down the drive I checked the wheelie bin. It was full of the packaging of little treats that had been had, but not by me.
I looked in the fridge where World War 3 had been fought and lost. I ambled miserably through the lounge room thinking how much I could fancy a slice of Roquefort with a glass of fine sauterne, and I noticed a card on the mantelpiece.
Among the things it said was: “To the best mum and dad in the whole world.”
They’d all signed it.
It’s very quiet now they’ve gone. The dog keeps following me about with an inane grin on its face. Stupid animal. I keep telling it there are no more chocolates.
Tomorrow I will go out and buy some. And some more cheese and some more wine, and my wife and I will have a little celebration, safe in the knowledge that no one’s going to steal it.
No we won’t.
What’s the point, without the kids to enjoy it, too?