The In-Laws got married on Boxing Day.
This year is (was) their 50th Anniversary and although MIL started inviting people in June, she did that because so many of us have no personal transport and would need to catch trains. The sum total of her concern for others extended to getting the invites out early so that people could book a hotel in time.
My older two children, who were five and six when I married Husband and whose natural sperm donor walked out and never looked back have always been desperate to be part of this family. The world and his dog, every uncontacted relative since the year dot was invited to this 'do' - were they? Were they heck.
So there we were, supposed to catch a train to Essex on Christmas Eve, to put our two youngest through Christmas Day in a hotel, just to be at this big family reunion bash on Boxing Day. Not only that, but we were expected to leave the two older ones behind.
Sure, sure. Eventually, when enough people had said they couldn't afford, MIL made arrangements for those who needed, to spend Christmas sleeping on cot beds on the floor of the local Church Hall.
Husband felt like dirt. His brothers and sisters all live nearer - they all made it, but we just couldn't, or wouldn't, or both. He really wanted to go.
So, Christmas Day, apart from getting the beginnings of the cold the rest of us have put up with for ages (excepting of course for us it was a cold, for him it was like swallowing on glass, and yes its Christmas but could we all be quiet, turn it down, tone it down etc in a bloody open plan bungalow), he was also, very fairly, grumpy as hell at his mother for being so selfish and not having the celebration a couple of days later when the trains would be running on the day.
I started cooking the dinner but let him finish it. Finish it off, more like. What with me sloshy and him full of a stinking cold, between us we somehow mucked it right up. For the sake of a bipolar friend who worries that people will talk about her if she is less than sunny, I admit that following a night with no sleep (one of many with this cold in the house), a morning on the Baileys to keep the grin firmly glued and then faced with a completely inedible Christmas dinner, well, I lost the plot. I broke a few things. Specifically I took a kitchen cupboard door off its hinges, managed to smash my very chunky mop bucket, and damaged one or two smaller items completely accidentally when the uncooked and unwanted Christmas pudding ricocheted off the kitchen walls. Talk about that.
The worst of it was Son's eventual and reverent admission that he never knew I was that strong, that the cupboard door had come down like a piece of paper and I hadn't even blinked. Ooops. It's bad enough becoming the psycho bitch from hell without realising my son now reveres acts of violence towards inanimate objects.
Husband's brother then phoned to wish us Happy Christmas (not something he's ever done before) and mention that he had taken over the role of eldest son and toastmaster for the big event and had his speech all ready for Boxing Day. Nice one, not.
Yesterday, Boxing Day, Husband tried to phone his mother to wish them well, and they weren't there. Obviously the celebration had been rescheduled for somewhere larger than the family home, equally obviously as non attendees we hadn't been told. In the end she rang him back today, a brief call to tell him what a wonderful day it had been and how many aunties he hadn't seen since he was six had showed up for it. Oh, she did sulk that not a single member of her own husband's side of the family had deigned to attend. I wonder why. Poor FIL. Nothing, not a single cursory word to ask after the kids or how we were doing. Whichever scientist is currently postulating that Aspergers is passed down the male line; well, I'd like to introduce him to MIL. Blinkers so huge she'd get into Ascot without a hat.
Today, well otherwise today was good. Big Daughter, her partner and my darling granddaughter came over for lunch and stopped all day. Even with husband constantly passing me glowering looks about the volume and refusing to drink because he was on the Lemsips. Even with him relenting but pouring himself a glass of something he got for Christmas in preference to the drink our visitors had brought, then settling down to his computer the entire time they were here - we still had a good day. To be fair to him, he looks really sallow and ropey and at least he never just disappeared to bed. I phoned Big Son on the boat while his sister was here and he was cheerful as. I phoned him at 8 this evening and he was in wracking sobs, so extremely frustrated that he couldn't draw breath to make sense. He goes out to sea at 4.30am and gets home at 7pm if he's lucky. Apart from two days off for Christmas he is doing six and seven day weeks in all weathers to try and get some money behind him. I don't suppose a long shift like that after Christmas, then coming home to the little girl he is playing house with who sits there bored stupid from 5pm (providing she went to work at all) is actually condusive to keeping one's sanity. That's always assuming she sat there. I know one of his pet peeves is that he gets to cook dinner after a 14 hour shift of physical labour and then she whines at him if he doesn't wash up and put away at ten o'clock at night - six hours before he has to be up again.
I actually think she can be quite lovely, but now they are living together she only pays one single household bill, he coughs for all the rest and she had the nerve to send us a really, really expensive, individually purchased Christmas card with ribbon and dangly bits, and sign it as from herself alone. I know who's money made it possible for her to afford that, I hardly know her, and she can't even pretend to his mother that they are a couple even while she's living under his favour. Wake up, kiddy-winky princess, quickly.
So that's my Christmas. It hurts but I love it. I love that every single person in this world is quirky and awkward and confused and all that, that we're all faulty goods. I love that sparkly baubles and heartfelt wishes might raise hopes and expectations, but that expectation is tiring and that we all show our worst sides when tired. Christmas, like death and having a crap, is a real leveller.
Christmas is over, for me at least. There is residual booze in the house and that's nice, the decorations won't come down until the sixth, a day after the kids go back to school, but I have had my annual dose of family. Eight days left to make the most of my children.
Now I want some action. Like Bart, I'm awake, I know whats wrong with life (I have a long list) and now I am all revved up to do something about it. Like Bart says, the only question is what.