On the first day of Christmas I arrive at my parent’s home three days earlier than usual in anticipation of spending some quality time with my nephew before he goes to the in-laws. I arrive to an empty house because unbeknown to me they have changed their plans and now arriving later in the week. This extends my family celebrations from five days to nine if I want to see my nephew and sister! Oh well, I’m here now so I may as well enjoy the log fire, festive decorations and a fridge full of delicious food.
On the second day of Christmas I decided to pay my first boyfriend a visit. Yes, during my teens I went out with guys, yet to realise that my admiration of the PE teacher, my fascination with female tennis players and the Jodie Foster movie and poster collection were the beginnings of my love affair with women. I have been reluctant to visit for several years, as each time I see him it is like jumping back to being fifteen. His life had not changed and in his thirties he was still at home living with his parents, unemployed, watching football and playing online poker.
Recently he got in touch and it sounded like his life had turned around, so when he asked to see me I accepted the invitation. On arrival I wanted to turn and run when he answered the door in what looked like the same Arsenal t-shirt he wore in school. He had not changed; he had just gone slightly bald. Desperately blocking out the necking sessions we had on the same sofa, I stayed for a while then made my excuses and hurriedly left feeling relieved I had moved away and left the small town mentality behind. Sadly I think if he ever left I feel sure be would come out as gay in a matter of weeks; it seems seventeen years ago we had more in common than we thought.
On the third day of Christmas; PMT, nicotine withdrawals and the arrival of Aunty Pat brought with it a childish performance that only surfaces in my parents’ home. I sulked, whinged and had urges to snort ‘bovvered’ at anything my Mum said. My adolescent behaviour culminated in an argument between myself and Aunty Pat about the psychological influence of nature verses nurture. Neither had a clue about the subject or why we were arguing so it ended with Pat walking off and me bursting into tears.
On the fourth and fifth day of Christmas I had a lovely time opening presents, visiting family friends and eating as if my life depended on it. Every waking hour was spent chewing turkey, chocolates, fish platters and the obligatory brussel sprout. I was on a food fest mission and masticated to my hearts content. Everyone was well-behaved and no further arguments occurred even when the Trivial Pursuit was brought out. Juvenility did rear its ugly head when my parents gave me a detox book, elastic muscle toning contraption, cleaning cloth and a fizzy drinks top that preserves the all important half left cans until the next day. I sulkily thought this an unsubtle hint to diet, tone up, clean more and not drink all the lager from the can in one go! All was forgiven when I realised how ungrateful and spoilt I can be as I unwrapped a digital camera!
On the sixth day of Christmas I bought an entire new sale reduced wardrobe and enough, unnecessary but discounted, soft furnishings to fill my flat. After two days of obsessive eating and drinking sparkling wine at eleven in the morning I began to panic that my extra large thighs would not fit into the new wardrobe. To not get depressed about the increasing waistband there was only one thing to do, loosen my belt and eat a turkey sandwich!
With the festive celebrations out of the way my thoughts turned to ‘oh shit I have no plans for New Years Eve’. I need to say goodbye to 2007, fall asleep on the 30th and fast forward to the 1st. Waking, relieved a new and prosperous year is ahead. After several frantic phone calls my housemate comes to the rescue and now the plans are set for new years and I can now relax and wait for my nephew to arrive later for more present opening.
On the seventh and eighth day of Christmas I think certain family members decided I should be straight. With constant references to what a perfect partner my single, yet gay, male housemate would be and when I appeared broody on hearing the news my sister is pregnant again, Aunty Pat smiled knowingly thinking perhaps this means my biological clock has put me back in the closet. It crossed my mind I could be being hyper sensitive and a little jealous of my sister who does not have another failed relationship under her size eight pregnant belt. But if Aunty Pat mentions my housemate again I may move my first boyfriend in with her and see how long it takes before she drags me to the Candy Bar.
On the ninth day of Christmas I arrive home in London. Feeling cosy and warm in my flat; blissfully surrounded by peace and quiet. A bottle of wine, cigarette and time to have a catch up on the internet with no need to table set, socialise with family friends amidst shouts from the kitchen summoning the unpaid hired help. On reflection and sitting alone I realise how much I miss them all and what a great Christmas I have had.
So that’s my nine days of Christmas. No partridges, pear trees or five gold rings but I did get to put some of what I have learnt through therapy into practice. Not successfully at all times but I have grown up and see Mum is only, if sometimes irritatingly, trying her hardest to please everyone. Aunty Pat is OK, she is just from the ‘good old days’ generation of one job, one partner and relationship with women means you have a close friend to talk about cooking and men with. Most importantly, I am going to be an Aunt again which is fantastic and there is nothing to be jealous of. For the moment I can be cool Aunt FT and give them back at the end of the day; until I’m with Miss Right and thinking of having a family of my own. 2008 is going to be a good year and I can not wait to live it!