Family Christmas?

wedding bouquet The difficulties of families at Christmas are well documented, and you probably think there isn’t much more to write on the subject.  But this story is the inverse of what normally happens.

You see, my parents have phoned to instruct me specifically not to bother visiting them this Christmas. Well, you might have thought that I would be jumping up and down for joy at the prospect of not having to negotiate the M6 over the holiday period, but you would be wrong.

To say I was feeling nervous about breaking the news to my sixteen year old daughter is an understatement. It would be more precise to say that I was quaking in my boots because she had set her heart on seeing her grandparents over Christmas.  And, as predicted, it went down like a lead balloon, and anyone would have thought that it was my idea to deprive her of the pleasure.  I hastily booked some tickets to the Olympia horse show in an effort to make amends, but, clearly, this wasn’t the same at all, and my daughter continued to bemoan the fact that she was not being allowed to see her grandparents.

If truth be told, it’s not that my parents don’t want to see us; it’s just that they feel we would be ill advised to make the trip given our health problems (not mine this time!), and they are keen to arrange alternative dates over the February half-term.  But this still isn’t good enough for you know who.

I have just read a book called “Greek Expectations” ( which discusses the extent to which Greek families expect to be consulted and included in just about every decision their son/daughter/nephew/niece/ whoever you care to name ever makes. To my mind, the whole thing seems an absolute and unending nightmare, and I have no doubt that, if my parents had been Greek, we would not have been excused Christmas, even in our extenuating circumstances.

But it does raise the question about how much we should involve families in our plans. Recently, two close friends decided to get married, and, rather than have a big family do, they eloped to Gretna Green and enjoyed the quiet ceremony they really wanted.  One thing at least is absolutely certain:  they would not have retired to their room on their wedding night to find the in-laws lying in wait on their bed (you’ll have to read “Greek Expectations” for more on this one), and there is still time for family and friends to celebrate with them a little later on.  In fact, the more I think about it, the more this seems a sensible way of doing things, and my character Isobel would certainly be advised to consider this option if she ever feels tempted to tie the knot again – it might save her the embarrassment of another fiasco!  (The Silence of Killing)

So just one loose end: how have I resolved the matter with my daughter?  Well, she is being cut free and is making the epic journey by train and by herself.  And somehow it’s all become a whole lot more exciting for her than it was ever going to be in the first place. Related articles


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