First married Christmas
‘Mrs Kennedy?” “Jesus Christ, Lucy, are you ever going to cop on and start calling me Angela, or what?” “Sorry, Angela,” Lucy said. “What are you doing with the potatoes?” “I’m roasting them. What do you think I’m doing with them? Do you not have roast potatoes in your house for Christmas dinner?” “We do, but, well, you haven’t parboiled them.” “Yeah,” said Angela, and sniffed. Dermot did an impersonation of his mother doing this. Dermot had told Lucy, this mouth might be saying yes, but the sniff said no. Oh dear. “Sorry,” Lucy said. “You know, different families, different ways. Mum always parboils them.” “Yeah,” Angela repeated. And sniffed. “Mum.” Angela was Mam. Not Mum. Yeah.
Lucy hadn’t spent a Christmas Day away from her family before, but it was their first married Christmas. And Dermot had indulged all her pre-wedding insanity, so she went along with spending it with his parents first. It wasn’t like she’d never had dinner there before. Lucy had eaten plenty of Mam’s Sunday lunches, and they were fine, if a bit agricultural, but Christmas was different. Or, as was becoming obvious, really different.
Right now, though, Lucy wanted to cry. Nothing was properly Christmassy here. Look at what Mam was doing to the potatoes. They’d be rock hard on the outside, not crispy at all, not like Mum’s, which were shaken in semolina once they’d been parboiled.
Mam was serving a ham, a spiced beef, a turkey and a “small” leg of lamb for Dermot’s brother, Benny, who didn’t like the other meats. The kitchen smelt meaty. Not even the botanicals in Lucy’s very large gin and tonic could drown out that. And Mam had four kinds of potatoes. Four. “A different spud for every son,” Mam joked.
Mam was sweating by the time she sat down. The mash was a tiny bit lumpy, the sprouts were sulphuric and the roast potatoes were just as Lucy had anticipated. “Not perfect, Lucy-Loo, but lots of variety. That’s what Christmas dinner is all about,” Mam said. Lucy realised she’d rather less variety and a bit of finesse, and wondered how the hell she was going to bring Dermot around to this idea by next Christmas.
“And all by my own fair hand,” added Mam. “Not a bit of help.”
Dermot shot Lucy a look. Lucy shot one back; one she hoped communicated that she had offered and been rebuffed many times by Mam.
“Yeah, lovely,” said Lucy. And sniffed.