I’ve been super organised this year and have tried to think of everything in the lead up to Christmas to make it a perfect day. I’ve even read every piece of yours and Mary’s advice but on the eve of Christmas I have this nagging feeling like one thing is missing from my planning. How can I be sure what it is?
Signed, Perfect Pamela
Well firstly you had me at “read every piece of yours and Mary’s advice.” Even sounds like you took a lot of it on board! You’re either certifiable or you have us mixed up with another Noel and Mary. In any case if this is true then you’re a very unique (if not solitary) member of our fan club.
Of course you’re free to put our advice to good use. You can master the re-gifting strategies for Panettone, circulate the mother of all Christmas newsletters, freak out your over-religious Aunt with a mock stigmata and free yourself of the shackles of sending your former mother-in-law a Christmas card.
But for all the messed-up, dysfunctional, downright scary people you will host on Christmas day, there is a factor that will make your Christmas day a success even if Christmas dinner is ruined by the overbearing and unreasonable demands of a vegan guest, by your drunken grandfather hurling his lunch at your ceiling, by your sister’s homeless guest setting fire to your living room furniture or if one of your guests decides to take over the day by giving birth in the middle of lunch.
To find your missing ingredient you need to read between the battle-lines of monumental fuck ups and mishaps on Christmas day. You’ll find it in some interesting places, like when you’re watching a Christmas movie with every member of your family. Elf is a favourite at our place. Bad Santa also, once the kids have been despatched to bed.
Stop for 5 minutes to chat one-on-one with that elderly member of your family, the one who doesn’t say much or has perhaps run out of things to say. You’ll see it in their eyes as you speak to them, the little flame behind them burning just a little more brightly the longer you stay.
The heavenly moments of quiet between chaos when you scan your eyes across the room and suddenly, one member of a new generation is connecting with an older one, each of them wearing silly, coloured hats. And you feel how safe everyone is.
A game of post-lunch backyard cricket, where every hit, every catch and every wicket somehow generates more excitement on the 25th of December than on any other day. Or the sheer pants-wetting hysteria you will share when a well meaning guest surpasses the previous most weird plate of food with their plate of almond inserted banana penis’s atop a scrotum of watermelon. Makes you want to suggest they see a doctor real quick.
But don’t add this advice to your list Pam. Don’t buy anything more to make it happen. Don’t find time for it in your schedule. Just allow the humans in your life to do what they do and you’ll be well on your way to a great Christmas Day.