Christmas 2013. Boxing Day. This was when we had to book the in-laws in for Christmas 2014. They’re scientists, so aren’t really aware of the world outside the lab. So, for over a year, we knew we were hosting Christmas, and couldn’t back out.

October 2014. Skiing holiday booked for end of January 2015. Oh, and I’ll just book the time off work. No big deal, never has been in the past. Shit. OK, can’t go skiing then, or at any time before April. Well, that’s a bit of an arse. Let’s go in December. Right, great, 13th-20th December, perfect.

November 2014. We really should do some prep for Christmas. Hmm, feels a bit early, and the building works are still going on. Don’t want to give people mince pies half-full of brick dust.

1st December 2014. Come on builders, let’s be having you. You’re already a couple of weeks over. Need to clean up. Got guests arriving in a few weeks.

4th December 2014. Order the goose and ham from the butcher. See! We’re organised!

5th December 2014. Oh shit, we need to unpack all the stuff we packed away for the builders. Bollocks. And we need to clean. Arse.

12th December 2014. Unpacked. Almost cleaned. Time to go on holiday.

20th December 2014. Get back. Shit, we’ve done no prep at all. How many people are coming again? So thats…hmm glasses…hmm bottles…times meals…christ, we need more wine.

21st December 2014. First guests arrive. “Hi! Can you help us clean?”

22nd December 2014. Waitrose staff know me by sight now. I have a favourite parking space. Still not quite got enough food

23rd December 2014. “Mum, can you go to the fishmonger and get this, this, and this? Oh, and the butcher too? Just that and some of these? Thanks.” Make tabbouleh, grated carrot salad, hummus, wraps. Last sniff of a vegetable for a while.

24th December 2014. Twiddle thumbs in butcher pickup queue. Realise I have to poach a ham for 10 and then roast it before lunchtime tomorrow. Realise I should’ve done this pickup yesterday. Get the meat home. Wrestle with goose. Goose has to go in the fridge vertically as it’s too long to go sideways. Fuck the goose. Cook scallops, celeriac puree, haggis crumb followed by salmon with hasselback potatoes, finishing with salted caramel and chocolate tart. Get a blister from opening bottles of wine.

25th December 2014. Holy fuck, I really haven’t prepped very well for this. Right, ok, let’s do it. “Mum, Sister, can you take the dog for a walk? I’ve got my hands full? Thanks.” Spuds: boiling, goose: basting, ham: glazing, carrots: julienned, broccoli: treed. ring ring “What? She’s not going back on the lead?” fucksake sigh Wellies, coat, fistful of cooked ham from the fridge. Dog acquired, eventually. Carve, plate, serve, more wine. Ladleful of cognac heated on the hob, scorched pud, nearly scorched eyebrows.

26th December 2014. Beef. More potatoes. More goose fat. More wine. Not sure how to drink things that don’t come in a wine glass.

27th December 2014. People start to leave. Dishwasher catches a break. It looks relieved.

28th December 2014. That was fun, so, same time next year?

Originally published at on January 29, 2015.