Holy Hamster
My Perfect Christmas Morning by Kate Long
2014/12/10  |  By:   |  Features  |  

I’m dreaming of a quiet Christmas, and here’s why.

Kate Long

Over the years the morning of December 25th has thrown me a few curve balls. At the mild end of disaster was the time we switched on the oven to roast the turkey and nothing happened. I can tell you, a house full of guests and a busted cooker felt like the end of the world. But it wasn’t. My mother in law set to and stripped the meat off the bone and we managed a stir fry on a camping stove, while neighbours sorted our veg and pud. There was a real Blitz spirit, with everyone mucking in. Crisis was averted, we all got drunk, and given that the cupboards were stocked to bursting anyway, no one went home hungry.

At about the middle of the disaster-scale comes the winter my newborn baby was hospitalised with a lung infection, and I spent a week stuck on an isolation ward, watching my little one struggle underneath a nebuliser. Luckily his breathing cleared and the doctors released him on Christmas Eve. Such joy! Such relief! Such despair as I realised I’d done nothing to prepare for visitors and the house was in chaos. “Do you think that matters? We’re happy to have beans on toast if it means the baby’s home,” said my dad. And of course he was right. What made Christmas perfect that year was having my family well and safe around me.

The most difficult Christmas morning logistically threatened to be the one following my husband’s motorbike accident. He’d been injured way back in the summer, but by December was still in a wheelchair. Unable to manage the stairs, he’d been forced to sleep in the lounge, which meant there would be nowhere for my disabled mum to stay when she came. The problem seemed impossible. But bless him, on Christmas Eve he took extra painkillers, gritted his teeth, and hauled himself up to our bedroom. It was a breakthrough moment, and the start of his learning to walk again. And waking up beside him – for the first time in six months – proved the best present ever.

So you’ll see why my idea of a perfect Christmas is an event grounded in the ordinary. I don’t need flying out to the Caribbean or New York or to some quaint Bavarian ski resort. I don’t require champagne up the Eiffel Tower. I just want to be eating bacon sandwiches round a coal fire, while my teenage sons show their grandma funny videos on YouTube and my dad sits glued to a musical, a box of chocolate liqueurs to hand. Outside on the lawn the birds will be tucking into their Christmas breakfast, and even the hamster will have woken up briefly to scrounge a raisin. This, to me, is perfection. I have it right here.

Holy Hamster

Quick Fire Round:

Q: What is your favourite Christmas song?

A: It’s toss-up between O Come, O Come Emmanuel and Wombling Merry Christmas

 

Q: Baileys or Mulled Wine?

A: Mulled Wine

 

Q: Favourite ever Christmas present?

A: My infra red night-time camera, which I use to follow the fortunes of my garden hedgehogs.

 

Q: Mince Pie or Yule Log?

A: Both, if I can get away with it.

 

Q: What would you like to find in your Christmas stocking this year?

A: A green cropped sweater from Jigsaw.

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