So, Aimee loves Christmas. LOVES it. Me? Well I struggle a little bit.
For the majority of my life Christmas was spent in a godforsaken town that my nanna had the misfortune of existing in. Mum and I would set off on Christmas Eve with a bin bag full of presents, a few rapidly defrosting boxes of Marks and Sparks party food and, with the intention of keeping me entertained, an armful of Smash Hits magazines. Forty minutes later we’d arrive in the arse end of nowhere, unpack our slightly rusty round the edges Micra and get ready to spend the foreseeable trying to be merry. It was always just the three of us and it seemed no different to every Sunday we spent together the rest of the year. Christmas was simply one long weekend with paper hats and a vat of Bombay Mix. My nanna would moan about the “old lady” foot spa / bean bag lap tray / dressing gown gifts my cousin and his wife had sent from America. My mum would rush around like a blue arsed fly, peeling, chopping, cooking, serving, clearing, tidying and looking after us both. I’d work my way through a jar of mint imperials whilst attempting to play Dream Phone on my own. Inevitably I’d get three quarters of the way through Santa Claus The Movie before my nanna changed channels so she could watch the Queen’s speech. I’d get bored, listen to my new Nick Berry cassette (child abuse) on my Walkman and get told off for not being patriotic. By the end of the day, my cantankerous nanna would have offered the present I’d given her back to me and whilst hiding all the best Quality Street in her skirt, tell my mum off for reading Old Moore’s Capricorn Horoscope book Santa (me) had left her. My mum would be shattered and in the absence of any proper booze, syphon some rum sauce and have a Bailey’s. She’d then show willing by finding an antiquarian board game in the vain attempt of forging some family Christmas bond. By midnight we were all ready for bed and for a bit of added excitement, I’d go upstairs on the Stannah stair lift. It wasn’t horrible but it was quiet, predictable and a little subdued. And when the television showed joyful family Christmases, we looked around and except for a Terry’s Chocolate Orange and a bit of tinsel, there wasn’t a lot to mark our occasion out as different to any other time of year. Cheery family faces weren’t appearing at the door, Slade wasn’t blasting out of any orifice, and it wasn’t even bloody snowing.
For the few years when it was just mum and I, we still struggled. Neither Heathernezer Scrooge (mum not a massive fan of December 25) nor I knew how to make the day feel different and putting on the free Daily Mail festive CD didn’t do a lot. We both felt the pressure of having as wonderful a time as everyone else seemed to be having but we didn’t have a family of 38, a tree the size of our cottage or a golden turkey on the verge of making the beautifully decorated table collapse under its juicy goodness. We had roast beef. We had a nice day, but was it Christmas? Come Boxing Day the relief that the pressure of HAVING A VERY MERRY TIME had passed was immense. We were unsure of how to ‘do’ all this joyful and triumphant malarkey, neither of us felt any affinity to baubles and without the memory of a picture perfect one, we were a bit lost. We were down on numbers and honestly? That’s what we were both missing.
And so, twas the April before Christmas, and all through the bar, there were whispers from matchmakers, that me and him would go far. And they were right. Almost three years ago we began by pulling pints, then each other and every December, crackers. A billion of them. Reader, I met him, the love of my life and Buddy the chuffin’ Elf.
We’d only be together 7 months when 1 December 2010 hit and despite 98% of me knowing I wanted to spend the rest of my life with this man, the other 2% was questioning how often a grown man could say “I LOVE CHRISTMAS”. There was mulled wine pumping through his veins, Mariah belting from his lungs and festive cheer oozing out of every pore. Mum and I had been welcomed into his family very early on but as Christmas neared we were engulfed in fairy lights, soaked in brandy and dusted with icing sugar. Wide eyed with horror wonder we realised that this, this was Christmas.
To be continued…