What do you most want for Christmas? An iPad, something elegant in cashmere or a voucher for a plastic surgery procedure?
The answer, of course, is for it all to be over with as soon as possible. In 1914, that's what millions of people also wanted for WW1. And look at how long that dragged on.
Mind you, given the choice between enforced jollity (the holiday equivalent of conscription), motorway chaos, another seasonal episode of Call the Midwife and the horror and brutality of early 20th century warfare, I certainly know what I'd plump for. Sign me up now, Lord Kitchener.
Anyway, here in order of awfulness are the 10 worst things about the festive period.
10. Meeting up with old friends. In a word. Don't. It's never a good idea. You'll invariably be left sad and melancholic by the encounter. If you haven't seen them for a decade or more, it's unlikely that you're going to have much, if anything, in common. They'll have changed beyond all recognition. They won't be the same as you remember them. You'll be left wondering what on earth happened to the exciting, funny, beautiful person you used to know and why you were attracted to them in the first place. Worse still, they'll walk away thinking precisely the same thing about you.
9. Families. From a safe distance, preferably another country and ideally another continent, they're sort of tolerable. Within closer proximity, however, they're a complete freakish nightmare. Tim Burton couldn't have made them up. It's always the less immediate members who are the strangest. Frankly, in the case of Uncle John (we all have an Uncle John, don't we?) who knew that the prison parole board had suddenly become so lenient?
8. The giving of presents. Choosing the perfect gift can be tricky. So this year, for the person who has everything (even if they don't have everything, pretend they do), why not get them nothing? Ah yes, the new unisex scent from Calvin Klein. Admittedly, it is very subtle. Some would say that it's almost imperceptible in its fragrance and practically undetectable to the human nose. Like it's hardly there at all. But then that's the beauty of nothing. Plus, it's remarkably easy to wrap. Failing that, there's always the last resort for the lazy, thoughtless and the forgetful. You guessed it, another donkey in distress. The amount you've sponsored over the years, it's amazing that there's any left to sponsor. Thanks to your benevolence, most of them are now holed up, not in a stable, but in a suite at the Hyatt in Bethlehem.
7. Opening presents. Perfecting your 'Oh, it's exactly what I wanted' face needs practice. It isn't easy to pull off. It's a look that has been used to great effect by devastated Oscar losers since 1927 and says that while outwardly you're happy and completely delighted, inwardly you're a bubbling volcano of molten resentment that's likely to explode at any moment. Be warned, this face can sometimes be confused with your orgasm face, which isn't something any parent wants to witness again, especially after Xmas 1996 when they caught you knocking one out over your sister's Hawaiian Barbie. OK, with me, it might have been Ken instead of Barbie, but the sense of embarrassment, guilt and shame lingers.
6. The Christmas dinner. Or rather the lack of it. Despite being in the oven since last Wednesday, the 38 lb prize Norfolk bird needs a further couple of hours before it's done, which in turn can only mean one thing. Another glass or 12 of Advocaat for Auntie Vi. This heady concoction tends to be served with disastrous consequences. Please see number 3.
5. Playing games. As Bill Shankly once famously said: "It's not just a matter of life and death, it's more serious than that." He might not have been talking about Monopoly, but he may as well have been. Forget football, nothing brings out the competitive streak of its players in quite the same way as the nation's favourite board game. "That's a hotel on Mayfair", you find yourself shrieking , barely able to contain your glee at having bankrupted your mother, forcing her into penury and probable prostitution.
4. The arguments. They normally start around 5am and continue every hour on the hour, reaching a crescendo of heated debate at 3pm when you vocally decide to once more air your views on the merits of republicanism as the Queen's speech is about to start.
3. Recriminations and revelations. If there's one outcome of an excess of alcohol, it's all those secrets which have laid buried for decades but swiftly come to the surface thanks to Auntie Vi imbibing such a large quantity of the aforementioned liqueur. Come on, don't deny you didn't have your suspicions that you were adopted.
2. The Christmas dinner (again). It may be somewhat late. Finally though, it's ready. Well, as ready as it's ever going to be. No matter that the sprouts are a tad over-boiled. Provided you avoid the pink bits, the turkey is roasted to perfection.
1. The A&E department of your local NHS hospital. BLEURGHHHHHHH! Didn't anyone realise that the main result of undercooked poultry is salmonella?
Phew! Thank God the joyfulness and merriment are all but done and dusted for another year. Roll on Chrimbo 2015. Bet you can't wait.Suggest a correction