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Mistletoe - what’s it for?

PUBLISHED: 10:08 02 January 2018 | UPDATED: 10:08 02 January 2018

Christmas tree - Lynne sat on the dining table to take this one. Picture: LJM

Christmas tree - Lynne sat on the dining table to take this one. Picture: LJM

Archant

We just have to face facts. Those big, jolly family Christmases are not going to happen much from now on.

Not that we were not jolly, you understand, but the days when we played grudge Newmarket and killer charades while munching Cheesy Wotsits and Twiglets into the wee small hours of the morning are gone.

Our children have flown the nest and the older generation is, well, quite old.

In fact, we have reached the point of not putting out a mince pie and sherry for Father Christmas or a carrot for the reindeer. I’m guessing he didn’t starve, however. It wasn’t all “bah, humbug”, though. Our neighbour popped round with a sprig of mistletoe, so we hung it over the sitting room door and tried it out. It seemed to work okay. (In my head I could hear the refrain “Old people kissing!” that would go up from our kids if they ever saw us embrace.)

Meanwhile my husband found a string of 200 fairy lights that, he decided, should be strung around the front window. We already have two small trees with lights outside the front door, a candelabra on the window sill, a tree featuring 200 lights and 150 baubles, plus the giant lit bauble at the landing window. But that obviously wasn’t enough.

After two hours of leaning across a desk to attach them, he announced it was all done. After 24 hours he announced he had put his back out and winced around the house all Christmas. All that suffering for a bit of sparkle. As well as an excess of lights we had, naturally, brought in far too much food. But you can’t be too careful. After all, the shops were shut for 24 hours.

One year, we had 20 people for Christmas lunch and this required placing the tatty Formica-topped table from the garage at the end of the dining room table to increase capacity, getting people to bring their own chairs and alternating knife and fork action so that there were no elbow clashes.

This year we were just six... although this was a 33.3 % increase on 2016. But, unusually, we were alone by 6.30pm, which meant that my husband and I were able to indulge in an activity we hadn’t enjoyed on Christmas Day for decades − and it had nothing to do with mistletoe. We watched telly. As you can imagine, EastEnders was the highlight of the day’s festive cheer. Not.

Earlier, we had briefly played an emoji card game with daughter Ruth and son-in-law Kevin. Emojis, available on smart phones for use in text messages, feature little round faces with a variety of expressions. Playing this game made me feel enormously relevant and out there.

Apparently some people have entire electronic conversations in emoji; they are a sort of latter day hieroglyphics. There are hundreds of them... but if only there were a short cut to communicating, maybe through the use of symbols − 26 of them, perhaps. These could then be used to form “words”. (That’s enough sarcasm for this year, Lynne. ED). Anyway, the game was unexpectedly enjoyable, especially when I won.

On Boxing Day our expected two guests couldn’t come due to illness but my husband insisted on giving us his planned Gordon Ramsay Beef Wellington. How smug I had been when I managed to get the last bag of cavolo (other spellings are available) nero from Waitrose to go with it. As daughter Ruth observed: “Oh, thank goodness, Christmas is saved; mum has cavolo nero.”

It was, therefore, a quiet though lovely Christmas.

By contrast, the grandsons are here for New Year. We saw them the Wednesday before Christmas, which was George’s last day of his first term at school. He brought home a little stack of cards from his classmates. One envelope contained a small fruit chew, which George put to one side for later.

Two-year-old Wil, seizing the opportunity, decided to strike and before you could say “two fruit salads for a ha’penny” he had eaten half of George’s chew.

George wailed, grandpa placated him; Wil said he was sorry and his daddy told him off. I put the kettle on. Now that felt like real Christmas.

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