It started badly. There was a phone call at nine.
‘Well!’ exclaimed my mother, ‘why has no one been to fetch me? I expect you are knee deep in turkey and I am alone on this desert island! I am disgusted!’
‘Oh don’t go happy Christmasing me. I’ve been up since six, they made me go on the bus to another house. Where is my house? What have you done with it. I walked to your house, I saw you cooking the turkey. WHERE ARE MY PRESENTS? Where are the staff? The cook has mickeyed off and I am left on this desert island. What do you think you are doing? You are evil, evil, happy Christmasing me. Why has no one told me the arrangements?’
‘I have written the arrangements on the card with Rudolph on it.’
‘I cannot possibly find it in this jumble of junk, someone has been moving everything around. Have you been here moving things? I hope no one comes near me today. I will tell on them. Why are they starving me?’
And so on. You get the general idea. Halfway through the tirade she pressed something on the phone which, bizarrely, stared to play Fur Elise. After a couple of minutes of it I hung up.
I finished feeding the cats and started off upstairs. The phone rang.
‘What was that music? Are you trying to fob me off?’ and so on for another half hour by which time I was late getting ready to go and didn’t want to anyway.
But we went, after lunch, as arranged, told for a fortnight and written in the card with Rudolph on it. Fortunately the roads were relatively empty, though not necessarily empty of relatives and one lone lorry driver from Albania.
We arrived, the car park was relatively empty too.
I knocked on her door with some trepidation but all was well. She was up and dressed and we had an hour to spare and the room was not disarranged but fairly normal. So I washed her hair while the OH wandered around muttering that he didn’t know how to child-proof a room, though he managed quite nicely and by the time I was drying her hair on the curlers she was chatty and cheerful. I took the curlers out and gave her her presents and she loved them all, especially the royal blue all lace dress with the matching slip, high neckline and scalloped hem and sleeves. I hung it on the outside of the wardrobe as instructed so she could enjoy it and then the family arrived as I hastily combed her hair through.
And it was OK. She gave the present I had brought to the baby who was excited to open it. I distributed various presents while the S&H and the DIL answered the same questions multiple times beautifully. I went up to my mother and murmured in her ear to ask if she wanted to give the elf to the baby. She murmured back that it was hers and no one could have it. But for lo with cries of great pleasure the baby found the elf for herself.
The S&H remarked that it wasn’t her elf and she had better put it back but for even more lo, my mother said as the baby liked the elf so much (which was fairly obvious as she was kissing the elf and cuddling it) she had better have it.
A Christmas miracle! (Yes it was, don’t argue.)
At which point, winning, the S&H suggested they leave having been there three quarters of an hour, everyone agreed and they did. My mother got up to wave them off at the door, the OH took them down in the lift and let them out. He returned, I took the empty bags and we departed having reassured my mother, who had become anxious, that the baby would being the elf back next time she came.
In the car on the way home the songs on the radio were Christmas songs from the late 1950s and we sang all the way home.
So it all went better than anticipated up to the point where the OH left me to go and drink round at the house of a couple of heavy drinkers, which is why I’m sitting at home alone on Christmas night typing this.
So, a bit of a curate’s egg, good in parts and not a disaster and therefore, under the circumstances, OK.
But I’ll have to get up early to go back to the posh supermarket where I got the elf, to see if he has a friend.
Happy Christmas from Jane’s little self elf group. (You and me against the world. As usual.)