It’s That Time of Year Again

 |  November 29, 2011

I could feel her eyes burrow into the back of my neck and like a deer in headlights, I froze.

“Put that drink down or else there will be two more balls hanging from the Christmas tree” said Mrs. D with a distinctly frosty tone.

I placed the brandy on the table and explained that I was only performing a quality control audit after having been asked to check the booze cupboard in advance of the season’s parties. Besides, we had already been putting up decorations for half an hour and I definitely needed something to keep me going as our house in the tropics was transformed into a winter wonderland. Well, the living room anyway.

I used to work with a chap who every December would festoon his house and garden with thousands of lights on a seasonal theme he started planning in June. He won several national competitions and people would come from near and far to see it. Sadly, it all went wrong the year his wife left him. His subsequent “Santa Pissing on Christmas” display, featuring hundreds of computer controlled yellow lights strategically arranged in an 8m stream that flashed on and off to give the illusion of a full flow, was felt to have gone too far. He was served with a council “cease-and-desist” order and neither he nor his house twinkled again.

Things are more straightforward for us. She has a festive plan and I keep my mouth shut and follow it. Everyone is happy. Although I have noticed in the last couple of years an increasing number of kitsch ornaments appearing on any spare flat surface. My theory is that as we only have a couple of Christmases left before D2 flies the nest to who knows where in the world, someone is trying to recapture the perceived magic of long ago. I pointed out last year that I didn’t see how “Made in China” snowmen, St. Nicks, reindeer and other clichés would achieve this but received a tongue lashing in return. “Scrooge”, “fun-sucker” and “insensitive bastard” were among the phrases used.

Besides, maybe this year in Thailand, we should substitute the more traditional relics with water-wings and canoes instead. “Count your blessings” my grandmother used to say…and sing if too much sherry had been consumed there in the valleys of South Wales. The festive season always makes you contemplate the misfortune of others and after the devastation that many have suffered in the flooding and nothing but bad news everywhere else in the world, in some ways it almost seems inappropriate to celebrate too much. But Thais love a good party and if the crowds, size of the fireworks and loudness of the explosions at loy krathong were anything to go by, we do what we can to help, rebuild and get on with it.

Which is what I was told to do. Get the tree up. It’s huge. It’s fake. It’s difficult to assemble. Replete with tinsel, candy canes, and electric lights, you can’t even see the thing when it has been decorated. My suggestion of using a coat stand that would at least be useful for the other eleven months of the year was rejected and so it sits there for several weeks, a potential fire hazard, waiting for an errant electricity spike to start the conflagration. Humbug.

Maybe I am sounding rather jaundiced here. I don’t mean to be. There is much to enjoy at this time of year with many international celebrations of culture, religion or whatever. The warmth of friends and family who all seem to be in a good mood. The hope of a new year, of starting afresh. And despite my beloved comparing me to one of Santa’s Little Helpers, I have to admit that the lounge does look quite good. Time for some Christmas music to help set the mood.

Barely a verse of the Pogues and the Kirsty MacCol singing “Fairytale of New York” had passed before I heard a voice from upstairs and I turned the volume down so that I could hear what was being said.

“What are you doing down there?”

“Just being festive dear.”

“Well stop it. Come up here and help me sort out the guest room. I forgot to tell you my mother’s coming to stay.”

Oh no. Nanny Dragon’s coming? Ho bloody ho. I sighed and turned the volume back up just as “Happy Christmas Your Arse” rang out. In horror, I pressed the “off” button, hoping that she hadn’t noticed the coincidence. But of course, she had and my protestations of innocence were ignored. I will now be cooking the Christmas dinner as my penance. Could be worse. I always enjoy stuffing the bird so to speak.

So, may I take this opportunity to offer you all warm Season’s Greetings from the Darings and see you in 2012!