Christmas has always been about routines. There are certain things you do and certain places you go at Christmas, but for the last few years these routines have disintegrated somewhat. This is due to time passing, marriage and family dynamics altering, but it was not always so. Christmas was so predictable that I could describe the events of the season in detail in the middle of August; let's start from Christmas Eve.
1. Emergency shopping visit, xmas Eve: usually dragged round shops to catch early price reductions and buy essential last minute broccoli.
2. Leaving the flat to stay at my aunty's in Kentish Town: this was a fairly comic and rdiculous affair. At soon as night began to fall my father would get tetchy and pace around organising a simple 45 minute trip as if it were a military exercise. He would pack everything into his wheeled shopping bag, this included passports, cash, a Turkey, whiskey, birth certificates, lemons, pyjamas, a plastic bag with toothbrushes and paste, a spare jumper or two, soap and a luxury tin of chocolate biscuits. I would shove a few sundries into a bag of my own.
My father's logic was that it was far safer to travel with these items on the underground, train and the streets of North London than to leave them locked away at home. My father had a running battle with invisible muggers and burglars and he had another quirky habit which he practicised in the name of security. He would ask - no demand - that me and my mother left the flat first and then 15 minutes later he would leave the building as well. This was to put potentially passing burglars off the scent; clearly they would be planning to break in if they had realised the house would be empty. Instead it must have given the impression that me and my mother had been kicked out on Christmas Eve; heading towards the local train station with our belongings and a befuddled expression on our faces. The befuddlement would come from that fact that my father had intricately described each stage of the journey to the station and we would have to follow these directions.
All this before we'd even got to the station...well I'm going to stop typing now, simply because this is getting too long winded. Well you should had tried living through it...perhaps I will share the rest in another installment.