Susan Morrison: What the dickens was I thinking?

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At some point on the run-up to the family arrival for the Christmas dinner, we realised the plates were chipped.

So, said I? Bob Crachit’s family served dinner on crockery mismatched and broken, but Tiny Tim (who, notably, did NOT die) still rallied the family round with a sentimental Christmas song and the rousing cry of “Gawd Bless Us Everyone!”

The husband/cook reminded me that I don’t actually like Tiny Tim – there, I’ve said it.

Deal with it, Dickens. Drippy little git. Tiny Tim, that is. Not Dickens, although it has to be said that man was as maudlin as a weeping Scottish drunk on Hogmanay – and secondly, was I happy about serving the biggest meal of the year on plates that are technically a health hazard?

Come to that, where was this feast to be laid out? We’ve seven to dinner and the space is too small. The plates are a mess, the cutlery doesn’t match and we don’t have enough room.

Plates must be purchased, matching forks and knives and spoons acquired. The living room must be rearranged to accommodate the feasters. All the books are bundled away, shelves removed. The house must look like Christmas.

Operation Christmas Dinner. It was like clearing the gun decks for action at Trafalgar, only with tinsel and fairy lights.

Oooo, look – a nearby shop has a fire surround in a sale.

In the twinkling of an eye, money is handed over, mantle is delivered and at last we can hang stockings in the approved manner.

The husband, if he so wishes, can wear a cardigan and lean against it in the style of Perry Como and sing Christmas songs whilst we all look on adoringly, except he can’t sing, the fireplace isn’t fixed to the wall and who’s got the time to stand around looking adoringly at anything on the lead-up to Christmas Dinner??

We buy food. Oh yes, we do. We buy enough food to withstand a moderate to severe siege.

We buy drink. Oh yes, we do. We buy enough drink to raise the Ghosts of Temperance Past to rise up and rattle their tambourines through the window.

We buy crackers, following an uneasy stand-off in Tesco with a woman 
who is eyeing up the last box that have the good stuff in them.

Carpets are cleaned, walls are washed, napkins are folded, bedding is sourced and fresh towels neatly arranged in a bathroom so clean I defy the Hotel Inspector to run a finger over a surface.

But it’s all worth it to welcome family for a day of good food, wine and chatter.

All is well in the world.

RIGHT! Who used that towel in the bathroom and left it UNFOLDED?

Shop staff were the real heroes

AND please, if you are still raising glasses, salute Scotland’s retail workers!

The laddies who went the extra mile and sought out another box of the good crackers (see above) and prevented total Tinsel Rage.

The till girls who wore light up antlers and kept smiling, even though the tidal wave of food, drink and wrapping paper never seemed to abate and the grim, unsmiling shoppers forgot to say Merry Christmas back.

The guys and gals who kept the shelves stocked and made sure that the Brussels sprouts kept on coming.

To you, the good folk who kept Christmas running, from little elves in toy departments to the sweater folding lassies in the shops.

Salute! And I hope you had a long lie on Christmas Day.

It’s sofa so good

IT’S nearly Hogmanay. You can tell. All the adverts on the telly are for sofas and holidays. I might just buy a sofa and take it on holiday.

Outdoor dining .. at Christmas?

ACTUALLY, I had given consideration to the dining arrangements back in September. I told husband/cook I was planning to build a temporary feasting hall in the back garden.

Honestly, I did. I was going to recreate a Viking Lodge. To my utter astonishment, instead of the usual response of just patting me on the head and smiling gently, he agreed.

We nearly did it. I looked at hiring gazebos and space heaters. Yes, I know, there goes the environment, but I figured my green points were well up since I chaired an event at the parliament, and Alison Johnstone of the Green Party got so excited about cycling she pummelled my arm.

If a Green Party MSP bops your biceps I think you can dance dangerous with the ice caps for a day. My clincher for outdoor dining was – get this – normally, around Christmas weather is cold, clear, but calm.

If we’d done it I reckon we’d be serving dinner just north of Kirkcaldy.