Boxing Day at Mum's is as traditional as the Bubble and Squeak she serves but whilst, as a child, I accepted it all as normal family life, I now recognise how uncomfortable it is. My mother likes to see the whole family seated around the table but she doesn't have enough room, so I ate my cold turkey perched below table level on a low stool, with the corner of a cupboard digging into my back. Add to this the fact that my parents are currently host to my brother enormous dog, Journey, who scares my timid aunts and Mum's determination to feed my children (neither of whom are good eaters when in company) as though they are starving waifs and there is always the potential for an argument. The atmosphere simmers with tactless comments and gentle nagging.
The children behaved well, thankfully, so I was able to enjoy time with family members I see only rarely and did my best to Keep Calm and Carry On. My cousin's partner announced that she is expecting a baby in June, so that was exciting news. One more to fit around the table next year!
I escaped the inevitable games playing by going to visit an old schoolfriend of mine, who was also at her parents' nearby.
I also recieved an unexpected compliment from my aunt, who told me I was a good mother. I was stunned, as I really do find parenthood the hardest thing I have ever done, but obviously very pleased. I will store that compliment up for when I am struggling to do the right thing!
We got home late so I'm reasonably confident that the kids will have a lie-in on Thursday, although it's unlikely that I will. I find it hard to lie abed these days. A sign of old age?