Family misfortunes

Don't fall into the trap of thinking that your parents now see you as a grown up

Peter Edgerton

Merry Christmaaas!! If it’s possible for a bloke to yell and rasp at the same time, that’s surely what Noddy Holder did on Slade’s perennial megahit Merry Xmas Everybody. Just like, say, Hotel California, it sounded alright when it first came out in 1654 or whenever it was, but such is its ubiquity at this time of year, one is rather tempted to tear out one’s own ear drums with a pair of rusty pliers at the first hint of those all-too-familiar opening chords.

Anyway, Noddy was correct in his somewhat over-zealous assertion - it is, indeed, Christmas. This, of course, is a marvellous thing although, if you’re spending the festive period with family, there are a few pitfalls you might like to keep an eye out for.

First, don’t fall into the trap of thinking that your parents now see you as a grown up. When you go to the pub on Christmas Eve and your mother asks you what time you’ll be back, the correct response is not “Mother, I’m fifty three years old,” rather “If I don’t stop at Mr Granger’s for some penny chews on the way home, about three, I think.” She may or may not ruffle your hair on the way out (if you still have any).

Next, as a general rule, avoid all uncles - especially if they’re those weird ones who aren’t related by blood but have still received the title for reasons unknown. They’re made easy to spot by their ‘wacky’ Christmas jumpers and their having drunk slightly too much while everyone else is still in pyjamas. Uncles’ favourite activities include wearing a tie around the head, telling jokes not fit for a family occasion and doing the Twist to any random song that may be playing, including, the best Christmas song ever, Joni Mitchell’s River.

A really important danger at family gatherings that we must look out for is The Simmering Feud. This will involve two family members who, unbeknownst to everyone else, have fallen out during the previous twelve months over an unreturned lawnmower/not getting a round in/mentioning somebody’s wife had put on a few pounds in a sotto voice. It’s a good idea to spend the first few hours simply observing proceedings, taking note of contemptuous glances, huffy back-turning, hissed replies to innocuous questions and the like. Once you’ve identified the suspects, do your best to avoid both parties until the inevitable release of tension during Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. This is likely to involve upturned tins of Quality Street and flying mince pies. Hide the chocolate oranges early doors - they’re a lethal weapon in the wrong hands.

Following these simple guidelines is guaranteed to minimise unnecessary dramas and maximise festive fun and frolics for all the family.

Merry Christmas, one and all.