I am lying in bed, stunned. We have completed the usual festive marathon of friends and family and survived. Following Twitter over the holiday's was fascinating, others tweeting their anticipation, the enjoyment of the 'get together', the fall out, and finally, the regret. Liam Black re-tweeted one of my comments on Christmas, calling it "the most cynical view ever expressed on the subject", I compared the holidays to a wedding that you had to cater yourself and buy all the guests presents. It was, like 99 per cent of my tweets, a joke, but now the dust has settled I am warming to my wedding theme. Why are these events so tricky? Because people, and I include me here, bring their hopes to bare. Christmas is especially rehearsed with ritual and so even more likely to be a top end management prospect that falls short of people's expectations which are to be loved, happy and surprised.
I approach it as I do most things, by planning. I have spreadsheets for the 52 folk requiring gifts and I shop and wrap as early as I can in the month. I then decorate, which is my pleasure, as early as having a house filled with greenery and flowers will allow, and include in my preparations truly mad things like redecorating the spare room which I did 3 weekends beforehand. I love that ad for a cold remedy where the 2 ailing women rattle off the 100 things they are doing in the next 12 hours (including redecorating the bathroom) and don't mention their colds, lovely, and it has to be said, close to the mark. We then have the neighbours in 2 days before, and on Christmas Eve the real party starts with folk coming, staying and going for the next 4 days. It is wonderful, and my children delight in it all, but I don't just need a holiday now, I need a convent where all have taken a vow of silence.
My problem, (OK one of many) is that I try to exceed expectations. This isn't just foolish to do for so many at the same time, but for some, pointing out shortcomings is part of who they are. So as I clamber up the greasy pole I only succeed in showing my Bridget Jonesesque arse. Not a pretty sight. I think next year we might try something different.