Two more sleeps!
There will be 14 of us. Ten adults and four children (if you ignore my wife’s pointed jibe about it depending on your definition of children).
I am going to have a Jolly time. I’m determined. Jolly with a capital J. Without the capital J jollity is merely good humour. I am aiming higher than that.
The cat, which has widdled in the Christmas tree pot, is not going to deter me.
Nor is the rogue thumbtack that went through my foot because Someone didn’t clear up properly after we’d hung the Christmas decorations.
There are complete strangers roaming around my kitchen. I have been ordered to Get Out From Under My Feet… or to Make Yourself Useful And Stir This. There is no winning, but I am Jolly nevertheless.
I thought I’d be safe in a bedroom… any bedroom…. but whichever door I open someone’s voice will scream: “DON”T COME IN!” to the sound of presents being stuffed back in cupboards.
No pain; no gain.
It’ll end in tears, of course. Probably mine, when the credit card bill arrives, but that won’t be till January, so for now – Jolly it is!
I bought a CD of Christmas carols. Not that modern rubbish in which gyrating young people try to make Away In A Manger sound like pornography; but real carols, sung by a choir, backed by an orchestra that can stir the bowels of universal goodwill. And I played it.
I sang along too, until my granddaughter said it was giving her a headache. She wanted to know what on earth I was playing that rubbish for.
“They’re carols!” I replied. With Jollity.
“Oh… like Rudolph the Red-Nosed (like a lightbulb) Reindeer?“
“Go away and short circuit the fairy lights, you revolting child.”
But I smiled. This is the side of Christmas that is never drawn on the Christmas cards. The Christmas dinner is represented as a succulent gourmet feast, steaming in silver tureens.
They leave out the dog with the stolen ham bone throwing up behind the sofa, and the child who is hurling brussel sprouts at the wall because they’re green.
On the cards couples embrace each other with generous affection. They don’t mutter through clenched teeth: “No, Dear Heart, I said one cup of brandy!”
Children dressed in exquisite Victorian clothes play with wooden trains and dolls; they don’t hurl plastic junk at the wall and hold their breath till they turn blue because they didn’t get an X-box.
What is an X-box, anyway?
No matter. I am Jolly. There is a small child under the table, sharing a lolly with the dog.
I think I’ll join it. It looks peaceful under there. If I can find some red cordial I might feed it to them (the child and the dog).
I might even have some myself. Then three of us will be jolly Jolly.
Probably not for long. Jollity is not infectious. Not just before Christmas. It’s actually bad for your health.
My wife will wheel round from the mince pies shortly, with a kitchen knife in her hand, and she’ll wave it at me and yell: “Will you stop being so bloody Jolly!”
I shall give her a hug and remind her about peace and goodwill to all husbands.
But I’ll be sure to hold the knife hand while I do it.