It's only Christmas Eve morning, but as the family traditions begin to kick in, you start to notice some disturbing variations.
1) Supermarket Hide-and Seek. It wouldn't be Christmas without a trip to Sainsbury’s with your parents. For years now you've taken to dropping back a pace ore two as they near the entrance. This enables you to appreciate to the full the perfect choreography of the moment when, at startling velocity and in perfect synchrony, they launch off in separate directions. For the next hour, at sporadic intervals, you run into one or other of them chanting the Sainsbury’s Refrain: "Where on earth has your mother/father got to? She/He always does this. You stay here by the tills and I'll see if I can find her/him in the Christmas Card Ribbons/Wine aisle." Eventually they crash into each other right under your nose and your father trundles off in search of the toilets while your mother searches for her Fidelity Card (that’s fidelity to the supermarket, for those of you who are wondering; but, hey, there’s an idea). Now, traditionally at this point some sour-faced youth with LFC acne packs your wine and ribbons into a dozen plastic carrier bags and you look on contentedly, pondering on how in the ideal world everybody associated with Anfield would be employed in menial jobs designed to render life simpler and more comfortable for their Everton-supporting superiors. Today, however, you are horrified to hear your mother refusing the till-girl’s offer to summon a youth and issuing assurances that her son will be more than happy to do the job, doesn’t like standing idle, etc. …. WHAT???!!!! Don’t like standing idle?! I love standing idle, mother, and I have a job. Good God! This kind of talk is sailing perilously close to the wind of “protestant work ethic”, and if there was one advantage to bringing us up Catholic then surely it was to guarantee ease of conscience at the sight of others toiling for our benefit. Even the till-girl was shocked, and till-girls don’t shock easily, believe me.
2) The Bottle of Wine From Your Grandmother. Always red, always Australian and always delivered by another family member two or three days before Christmas, even though you’re going to see your grandmother on every one of those days. There’s an agenda here you haven’t been able to fathom, ever since you reached maturity (I believe that’s the term) and wine replaced socks. And now you’re doubly confused, because this year you got white. Wine, not socks.
To be continued...