3) Since time immemorial, the Christmas Eve family lunch has been synonymous with the Shite Present Forecast. This locally-famous ritual begins with your father offering everybody a generous slice of the ox tongue he knows you all abhor. Once the sounds of gagging and retching have subsided, a sheet of parchment is passed solemnly around the refectory table and predictions (Name of Giver and Shite Present Category) are printed clearly and anonymously with a broken pencil – the writing implement is itself an important part of the tradition, recalling as it does the Yuletide gift of a medieval ancestor to his illiterate mother-in-law.
The Shite Present Categories are, in descending order of crapness:
7) Discount Store Novelty or Joke Books (the kind of thing you wouldn’t even read on the toilet)
6) Cotton Handkerchieves (if you want to keep your snot accessible surely you just leave it in your nose)
5) Scottish Fashion Items (self-explanatory)
4) Homemade Craft Items
3) Craft Items Homemade by Children
2) Painted Paw-prints of Related (or Unrelated) Children
1) Any Combination of 4) 3) and 2)
Armed with inside information gleaned from a misdirected email, you are smugly nominating Sibling IV’s homemade calendar of full-colour photos of his offspring applauding 12 of his DIY achievements (just to give you a flavour: March depicts the aforementioned bin-lids peering with forced merriment into a snowy trench with a freshly-repaired sewer pipe), when a woman who might be one of your sisters-in-law bursts into the room with the news that the competition has been cancelled. It transpires that an early gift from Sibling III to Nephew 14 has rendered the Forecast meaningless: normally a Ben Hur Special Edition DVD and an erudite tome on palaeontology would not even qualify for the Shite Present Award, but the fact that in this case the recipient is four years old has led the Family Elders to annul the traditional ceremony.
Next thing you know they’ll be abolishing the Slagging of the Golden Boy, and, to be honest, if that happens then we might as well just do away with Christmas itself.