By noon on Christmas Eve, Millie Hubbard had lost her mobile, her shopping list, and her mind. She was still awaiting five Amazon packages; her husband Jason, who was supposed to be back from a face to face meeting after nine months working from home, and a Tesco Christmas cake.
She hated her children, all four of them. They were noisy when she didn’t want them to be, deaf and dumb if she tried to engage them in conversation, or even just asked a simple question.
Harry was 13; Paddy was 15; Sally was 17; Dan was 19, and back home from uni for the holidays. She had thought a continuous stream of nappies over approximately 8 years was dire. That was nothing, compared to a houseful of teenagers.
Jason had been little use these last few months, she thought, as she dug through the laundry pile, and searched the washer, for her phone, and the shopping list. Her husband had always been a bit thick-skinned, but working from home with 3 to 4 teenagers plus his wife about, he had turned into a rhino.
Her own job as an assistant chef at a local restaurant had turned into a furlough. She missed it, and had tried to make up for the cooking part with ever more elaborate meals, and a storm of baking: cakes, pies, bread, biscuits, etc. Unfortunately, she had messed up when storing the Christmas cake, and it had gone stale: hence the Tesco order.
“Call your self a chef, but you can’t even store a cake properly,” she said out loud..
None of her kids looked up. Harry continued staring at his PS3; Paddy at his “Harry Dresden” graphic novel; Sally at her engineering textbook, and Dan at his Superman comic.
That was it. What little was left of her self control disappeared, and she wept.
Harry looked up, then said, “What is it, Mum?”
“Everything! Every bloody thing in the whole god-forsaken planet. Especially Christmas! I hate Christmas!”
Sally said, “Did you hate it when we all made gingerbread bears?”
“No,” sniffed Millie.
“Or when we filmed ourselves doing the barking dogs doing ‘Jingle Bells’ for Tik Tok?” asked Dan.
“Or decorated the tree?” added Paddy.
“Which one?” asked Harry.
“I enjoyed them both,” Millie said softly.
“So,” said Sally, with her engineer’s logic, “you don’t actually hate Christmas.”
“I hate this Christmas. I hate today. I hate this Christmas Eve.”
By the time their father came home, the children had found Millie’s mobile by simply ringing it (it was in the fridge, next to the salmon they were having for tea), and Dan had offered to bake a coconut cake.
“It won’t be a traditional Christmas cake, but it will be a cake, and we can eat it tomorrow,” Dan added.
Three of the five parcels arrived 20 minutes before Jason, delivered by an exhausted looking young Asian man.
When he did arrive, Jason said, “Anything wrong?”
“Two missing parcels, but that’s nothing,” said Millie, adding with a kiss: “Happy bloody Christmas.”