PAT McDERMOTT: all I don’t want for Christmas
Not all traditions are worth keeping at Christmas.
The MOTH (The Man of the House) loves the age-old traditions of a family Christmas. There’s “hunt the corkscrew”, “pass the port”, “the baby’s eating the tinsel again”, and his favourite, “I am not asleep, I’m resting my eyes.”
But there’s no tradition The MOTH likes better than “firing up” the barbecue on Christmas morning. He insists we all need what his late mother used to call “a proper cooked breakfast” to start the day. The kids think he’s doing what his late father used to call, “lining the stomach”.
First he checks supplies: eggs (three dozen), streaky bacon (two kilos), sausages (four kilos), tomato sauce (two bottles), Worcestershire sauce (one bottle), mustard (Hot English – one jar), bread (heaps), butter (a kilo) and paper napkins (2000).
Our ancient gas barbecue sits in the garden, away from overhanging trees, neighbours and smoke alarms. The MOTH lights it the old-fashioned way.
1. Make sure everyone is safely in the house with doors closed.
2. Turn on the gas.
3. Wander about looking for a match. 4. Strike the match and throw towards the hissing sound.
5. Trot to the other side of the garden.
6. When you hear “WHHUUMMP” and see flames, join the crowd cheering from inside.
7. Accept congratulations and a beer. I know it’s 8.30am, but it is Christmas.
8. Promise to buy a new barbecue in the January sales.
However, there are some Christmas traditions I could do without so
I’ve decided to take my concerns to the top.
“Santa – it’s me, Pat.
“Pat McDermott. From Sydney. “Sydney, Australia.
“Really? I had no idea there were so many of us. I wonder who the fellow in Hanoi is?
“Santa, I’m very sorry to ring at such a busy time but my emails and texts bounce back so I decided to pick up the phone. Yes, I’ll keep it short. “Please don’t bring me:
l Anything that says ‘some assembly required’.
l Tickets for any holiday that includes ‘gourmet’ cooking classes. I’ve raised five kids, Santa, and I’m still married to the same man. I put this down to dishing up spaghetti bolognaise three nights a week.
l Fruit cake. Did you know there is only one fruit cake in the entire world? People just keep sending it to each other.
l A gift certificate for a spa visit.
I hate the spooky music, the goopy creams and people sneaking up on me with hot wax and tweezers.
Also, I really can’t relax unless I’m fully clothed.
l Good advice. There’s so much floating around these days and I just recycle mine. As our children left home I told each of them the same four things: swim between the flags, cross at the lights, never marry for money, and reach round the back of the yoghurt display if you want one with a long ‘use by’ date.”
Ruff Red once said our house at Christmas was a cross between Santa’s workshop (arguments, twinkling lights, oversized tree) and the Bethlehem stable (a lot of dishevelled strangers hanging about eating, drinking and singing.)
“You see Santa, I have so much, I couldn’t possibly ask you for anything more.”
Merry Christmas from the McDermotts.