Post Christmas, Post New Year, New Year’s Post…

I don’t know about you, but I need a holiday (perhaps at a health spa) to get over Christmas – which was ages ago, I realise, but I’m still reeling from it. My last post was on December 20th – and every day after that has seemed to involve some serious amounts of Christmas. This was probably because it was nearly Christmas, and despite my best efforts to be feverishly organised (which involved having many, many, many lists) things still fell apart.

After the flooding incident during my brother and sister-in-law’s stay (in which the kitchen sink filled with hot rust sick water anytime the bathroom was used), there was a serious amount of housework to do, and for whatever reason, even more laundry than usual. Laundry seemed to be everywhere I looked. Where was it coming from? Laundry spewed from the laundry bin, from the creel, the bannister, the washing machine, the radiators – and there was more to come. It was like some kind of laundry epidemic had taken place. Hours of the day seemed to simply dissolve as I separated sheets from towels, wool from cotton, pants from more pants and then eventually cramming them all into the washing machine just to have it out of my sight.

Then there were the last minute presents. I had been relatively well-organised this year and managed to actually get everything at a reasonable time rather than my usual stunt of ignoring Christmas until it’s too late. In a completely mad twist, I only bought one present online. Everything else, I physically went out into the world to buy with real-life money, and carried it home in my bare hands. Despite the organisation (and not waiting on delivery men), there were still a few items that I had foolishly left until the last minute. This is classic me  (fuck-it-up-itis), the moment I realise that I’m actually doing well at something, (in this case, buying Christmas presents on time), I seem to stop doing it. This is how the logic goes:


Having escaped the depths of the laundry nightmare to go on an emergency shopping trip to pick up the last few presents, I realised that there were more things I had left until the last minute. Like buying Christmas food and cooking it. Sorry, learning how to cook it, and then actually cooking it.

As I pulled into the supermarket car park Christmas eve afternoon, I found myself yearning to be back at home with the now infinite amounts of ironing. Cars were parked on top of each other. People had parked their cars in the trolley park, they had parked in the bus lane and in hedges and all I could think was “Why have all of these people left it until the last minute?” I then, in the true spirit of Christmas, I cursed them profusely for being so disorganised.

For the first time in my whole life, my Mum was not Christmas coordinator this year. She had nothing to do with Christmas 2011, the responsibility had been handed out across our family. While Christmas day itself fell to my Aunt, I would be hosting Boxing day. In every previous year, Christmas has been a strategic operation which has been carefully organised by my parents. My Mum is a one-woman social and catering committee, whereas my Dad seems to spend a lot of time creating Excel spreadsheets to manage who is buying what present for whoever, and placing online purchases. They have operated as some sort of Christmas headquarters for years. If you were struggling to buy a present, you could ring them up, day or night, shrieking “I DON’T KNOW WHAT AUNT HILARY WANTS FOR CHRISTMAS – SHE’S ALLERGIC TO EVERYTHING” and my Dad would consult his Christmas spreadsheet and calmly say “It’s fine, she wants The Sound of Music on DVD”. Problem solved. So when all these responsibilities shifted, things got a bit wonky. Or at least, for me anyway.

On Christmas eve, two hours before I was due at my parents house for dinner, I was weeping down the phone to my mother because I was cooking ham for the first time and it “just didn’t look right” and because I felt that the calm picture of Nigella Lawson staring back at me from the recipe book was mocking me.

Nigella Christmas

I returned from my parents’ at half past midnight. It was, technically, Christmas day. And while I had (only just) bought all of the gifts I needed, I hadn’t actually wrapped a single one of them. Or cooked the turkey saddle for Boxing day.

And so, my Christmas mission continued and I wrapped my presents while watching a terrible Christmas film starring Melissa Joan Hart (star of hit 90s TV shows Sabrina the Teenage Witch and Clarissa Explains It All) and Mario Lopez (who played A.C. Slater, wrestler and mullet-wearer in the original Saved By The Bell). It was awesome. But sadly, I didn’t get to see the end of it, because I convinced myself, once I had finished wrapping all my presents at 2:30am, that the sensible thing to do would be to go to bed, and not to continue watching a terrible Christmas film, purely because it starred two people from shows I loved in the 90s.

So I went to bed.

And three hours later, I woke up again, worrying that I had not yet cooked the Boxing day turkey saddle. An hour later, having tossed and turned the idea in my mind as much as I tossed and turned in bed, I decided seeing as I was awake thinking about it, I should just get up and cook it.

By 9am Christmas morning, I had cooked the turkey and painted my fingernails and watched Home Alone.

It is impossible to make it through Christmas without watching at least one John Hughes film…

Things continued in this bizarre and disjointed way right up until the end of last week, when I finally made it to the end of all the food I had left from classic over-catering which comes with Christmas season (this involved eating a cheese-board in its entirety).

So, many, many apologies for not wishing all my readers a Merry Christmas – I truly hope you had a good one, and I suppose I’m not too late to wish you a (belated) Happy New Year.

P.S. I also owe lots of emails, text messages and phone calls. If you’re someone who is owed one, and you’re reading this, then rest assured you’re reply is currently on a list somewhere, and I’m going to get back to you real soon…


I’d like to dedicate my first post of 2012 to my Mum and Dad – for being crazily organised at Christmas, and never losing their cool. My Mum has done a family Christmas every year I’ve been alive, and has  never once cried, or told a piece of meat to ‘fuck off’, and still finds the time to make us all a nice cup of tea whenever we want one.

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Comments: 9

  1. Steven Chapman January 11, 2012 at 9:45 am Reply

    “I need a vacation”…as a cybernetic organism from the future hell bent on destroying/saving all humans once said. But if you did have another break, you’d just need a holiday to get over that one…and anyway you’re on holiday ALL the time, slacker.

    You have a laundry bin AND a creel…AND you separate washes? There’s your problem right there! Just wedge in so many clothes that you end up with a cylindrical bung of cloth once the spin cycle has finished…saves an eternity.

    And you iron??! WTF?!

    Also I just spat coffee everywhere when I read the “told a piece of meat to ‘fuck off’” line :D

    • Jo and the Novelist January 13, 2012 at 10:36 am Reply

      Hmmmm. Cybernetic. Of course, I have no idea what that means, but it sounds cool, so I’m going with that.

      What’s your point, slacker? You seem to be on holiday every other week.

      Yes, I have all these laundry items – pretty cool. But not really. And no, I don’t really separate my washes, but for the purpose of making this post sound a lot more dramatic than it actually was, I do.

  2. alonewithcats January 12, 2012 at 3:43 am Reply

    I think I might be your Aunt Hillary. Does she have cats?

    Tell me the story again of how you went to actual stores and handed clerks actual money and carried the loot home with your bare (!) hands. Weren’t you worried you’d be time-sucked back to 1990?

    • Jo and the Novelist January 13, 2012 at 10:38 am Reply

      I don’t really have an Aunt Hillary, so feel free to step into that roll, and I’ll totally send you a DVD of The Sound of Music.

      It was exactly like being back to the 90s. Which was exactly why it was awesome.

  3. Rik January 12, 2012 at 2:31 pm Reply

    So, um, did you tell a piece of meat to “fuck off”?

    • Jo and the Novelist January 13, 2012 at 10:38 am Reply

      I did. And I’ll tell you something else, it wasn’t the first time.

      • Rik January 13, 2012 at 1:16 pm Reply

        I didn’t think so. Such things run in the family…

  4. The Suniverse (@TheSuniverse) January 19, 2012 at 4:54 pm Reply

    I wish you could come over for the holidays. I like cooking and planning big events. It’s the day to day I get underwhelmed and oversaturated by.

    I’ve missed you. Many much missing.

    I actually purchased some things in person this year, AND I even kept for myself some of the stuff I ordered online for other people. It was a great holiday.


  5. Simone February 18, 2012 at 9:21 pm Reply

    oh, christmas. always such a joy. why do we intentionally do this to ourselves?

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