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Yes It's Another Christmas Article
Jess Wynne


Lazily happy – that kind of sun kissed sensation that flows through all your limbs and leaves you without the least desire to do…well anything really. Waves lapping, palm trees glimpsed with sun shielded eyes. The evocative smells of…um is it coconut? My factor 100+ sun cream? (With my pale complexion I couldn’t cook any faster if you poured a vat full of cooking oil over my head). And those soothing sounds, distant voices, getting closer and…

“ARE YOU LISTENING? WOT DO YOU WANT FOR BREAKFAST?”

I jump, not so much awakened from my reverie but torn limb by limb from it screaming. The TV guide with all those tedious advertisements for unaffordable and, without the use of cliché, unimaginable holidays falls to the floor. Well as Pulp frontman Jarvis Cocker said “why live in the real world when you can live in your head”. Unfortunately society as a whole does not appear to be particularly cool with this idea.

“WELL WOT DO YER WANT? YOU CAN’T HAVE NOTHING HOT”.

Well I should explain – I have an eleven-year-old sister. Explanation over – you must know the drill. Drill being the operative word. She endeavours to organise Christmas day with all the military zeal of a Middle East dictator. Obviously we must not ask for any sort of cooked breakfast as it will interfere with her precise schedule and the attainment of her Christmas related goals. Or goal actually – the opening of her presents. However, I think I ought to explain that my sister’s attempts to get Christmas allowed into the Olympics as a speed sport are never entirely successful. Actually our Christmas day proceeds thus:

7.00am – Sister tries to wake everyone up. Much shouting and threats involving breakfast.
8.00am – Sister continues shouting now followed with banging loudly on doors. We all ignore her.
9.00am – Sister now shouting about breakfast on table and hungry dogs waiting. Banging on doors with what sounds like ten-foot iron pole. Parents arise – possibly worried that sister will explode. Boyfriend and I continue to ignore her.
9.45am – Eat breakfast as fast as possible. First headache of day – cause: shrieking sister. Arguments begin.
9.47am – open presents. Act amazed and grateful.
10.00am – Clear up all the paper that covers the floor: discover a dog and another family member in the process.
10.10 am – People do cooking related things here I think.
11.00am onwards – watch TV, complain about the lack of decent things to watch but watch anyway, walk dogs, get hungry, enquire about dinner – told ready at 4.00pm.
4.00pm – no dinner, told to wait another hour.
6.00pm – Dinner. Eat too much too quickly. Sister in a hurry to reach the cracker pulling bit. Avoid Christmas pudding – who likes it anyway? Its definitely one of the big Christmas conspiracies.
7.00pm onwards – play games. Watch Eastenders and have the old debate about why the men in this family consider it rubbish but love The Archers just because its on the radio rather than the TV. Plus they all watch it sneakily anyway and are hypocrites.
12ish – go to bed with aching heads, stomachs, hair etc.

Sound familiar? Pretty ordinary and against a backdrop of deepest darkest Cornwall so you should be thinking cold, wet and windy. And our house – do you recall the spooky hotel in The Shinning? Ok it’s a hundred times smaller and looks more like a large granite barn but the sense of isolation and a maddening entrapment with the people you are living with is similar. Also we have horses to contend with. Perhaps you can envisage cosy little pictures of riding into the local village, through the snow, all snug and warm from the heat of the horse. Maybe stopping to get some milk from the local farmer on the way. Actually these animals are nutters. Mine in particular is terrified of the wind despite having lived out in it all her life. So basically they have zero usefulness but demand that I freeze and sneeze (hay fever. Yeah very ironic) carting huge bales of hay around. However, they are beautiful, very graceful and also for sale if you are thinking about buying a huge muddy useless creature.

Anyway I seem to have digressed somewhat. This Christmas was different. I had no money – well ok then no change there. However the reason for this was that most of my cash, with that of obliging friends and relatives, had gone towards bringing a dog over from Greece. I met Gustav (the aforementioned dog) whilst doing volunteer work in an animal sanctuary near Athens. He had been abandoned as a puppy and the scarring on both his eyes suggests that he had been beaten around the head. Nevertheless he was so trusting and loving that I decided to raise the funds to fly him home.

He was the new addition to Christmas – well my boyfriend was also experiencing the Yuletide madness with my family for the first time. He spent most of the time staring at everything in wonder, sniffing everywhere and causing terrifying fights with our other dogs. The dog not the boyfriend that is. Now he is well and truly settled – realises that the best place to sit is as close to the fire as possible or on the sofa if he can get away with it. So I don’t mind that I was poverty stricken this Christmas or the fact that when you really need mundane gifts like socks you don’t get them and receive life-size pottery phrenology heads and disembodied pottery hands instead. For me the best moment this Christmas was when I let Gustav run in our fields. He had been cooped up in a small kennel for three years with only ten minutes a day to run in a small yard. When his feet touched grass he ran the length of the field and back like a dog possessed. It made me smile to see him and he seems to have been grinning ever since. A soppy, feel-good ending? Well what did you expect at Christmas.


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