When my brother was eighteen he went out on Christmas Eve and got bladdered. He came home in the early hours (long after the one club in our small town had closed) and slept on the sofa because he was too drunk to get upstairs. This is what greeted us on Christmas morning, and indeed the rest of the day, for he was too drunk/hungover to wake/move/eat. My parents were very upset and annoyed at him, but couldn't do much because he was asleep. They then retrieved a small, sticky, silicon novelty penis from a drawer (it had previously been used in a spin on 'pin the tail on the donkey' and then kept with the stationery, as you do). They stuck the little willy to his forehead and got out the camera, so the usual family Christmas portrait in front of the tree was replaced that year by photos of my brother being a dickhead. They remind him every year, and the whole thing is uncharacteristically passive aggressive for our mild-mannered parents.
I’d been seeing this guy for about a year and a half, and my parents weren’t too pleased about it. There was nothing wrong with him – they’d just imagined me more with a CEO, lawyer type partner rather than the sound engineer, tattoo-sleeved bearded fella I was loved up with. A few weeks before Christmas I found out we were expecting, but I hadn’t managed to muster the courage to tell the family before the big day. I’d forgotten how hard it would be to hide – after half an hour of persistent questions on why I wouldn’t start the day with a Bucks Fizz, I caved and dropped the bombshell. After a few frosty hours – and a couple of sherries on their part – they began to warm to the idea and Christmas was saved. Three years later, they’re now the most loving grandparents to our Teddy, and treat my fella like he’s family.
My parents split up when I was fourteen, which always made Christmas time properly awkward. After a couple of years of arguments, they finally settled on a system where they’d alternate who had me and my two younger brothers on Christmas Day, and who had us on Boxing Day. It was my Dad’s year for the big day and, as neither him nor my two brothers could cook, I decided that I was going to take over the mantel of cooking Christmas dinner. I could make macaroni cheese, I could bake muffins, and my chilli con carne was passable. How hard could a roast dinner be? I did my research: the turkey was prepped, the veg was chopped and ready, the table was set. After popping the bird in the oven, I returned to the heated game of Monopoly that dominated our Christmas days. I checked up on it four hours later, only to discover that I hadn’t even turned the oven on.
Christmases at my house tend to be super traditional, as my parents are devout Christians. Jesus appears in every room of the house, I think. That’s what made it so difficult to tell them that I’m gay. A bit of me felt they always knew, but they’re very stuck in their ways, and were very stuck in the idea of me being the ‘perfect’ son and getting a girlfriend. On Christmas Eve we went to church for the service, and my mum strategically placed me next to a girl. She had the most annoyingly shrill voice, and kept going on about how she’d decorate the church when she got married, when she found the right well-to-do man. By the time the service was over, I’d had enough. I’d had more than enough. Mum sweetly asked how she was, and I snapped. I told her that the girl was nice but my boyfriend was much nicer. She grabbed my dad’s arm and quietly walked off. I took the long way home. When I arrived, the door was locked, the lights were off, and my suitcase was on the porch.