My Christmas was something of a nomadic event this year, owing to my family living on the opposite side of the country, and my mum working on Christmas Day for the first time in memory.

The first day of December coincided with my first Christmas card of the year (all the way from Canada no less. Thank you, Lindsay!) and an advent calendar from mum. A few days later, I came home to the find the most magical Christmas card from my friend Cory in Seattle:


I don’t know if you can read the peen-deer’s names but Grower and Shower killed me.

Catching up with Thunderpaws while Aarti was away again.

And speaking of crazy cat ladies, we had a visit from Caroline recently on her trip to anywhere-but-Leicester – this time with new beau, Sandeep, in tow. Every time she visits, Caroline threatens to steal Wilfred and each time I have to remind her that if she so much as tried, she’d be leaving in a body bag.

This was actually my last night in Glasgow before I head back to Dundee for Christmas, so I’d determined to pack and wrap presents during the day then go out with Caroline & co. at night.

Only one of those things ended up happening.

My second visit to Hillhead Bookclub, but my first time noticing that it has its own table tennis cage.

Also: cocktails in a gramophone! We figured they’d bring it over to our table once we ordered, which turned out not to be the case. In retrospect, John probably wasn’t the best man to send out on a job that required heavy lifting.

Nicola had also just gotten back from New Zealand and agreed to join us after some (very minimal) persuasion.

My resolution to go easy went the same way as my earlier one to start packing. (The one in the middle was a non-kosher vanilla coke float, which is one of my new favourite things.)

Finally, Caroline and Sandeep had to call it a night, and I was left with the daunting realisation that I had a train to catch the following morning. That did not, however, stop John, Nicola and I from playing a few rounds of Street Fighter II after it emerged that the cage opposite the table tennis gear was set up with an old-school SNES and MegaDrive.

Morning! Nausea! Unidentified ruins that Google won’t tell me the name of!

Home is where the Humph is.

Lucy looks like such a grand old lady these days.

After dropping off my luggage at home, it was straight to Kim and Colin’s for some wholesome Christmas fun.

Colin soon headed out to a friend’s birthday, which left Kim free to enlist me in helping her construct his (fucking amazing) Christmas present: a fully functional Adventure Time Monopoly set!

It took us the entire evening to fit the board together and make six more playing pieces, so I can’t imagine the ungodly length of time it took Kim to make the entire thing. Girlfriend points +1,000,000.

The following morning, with Harry abating my cat withdrawal.

As I mentioned earlier, my mum had to work on Christmas day this year. As a result, we ended up having Christmas dinner on the 24th so that we could still spend it my granddad and Jessie. Having dinner on Christmas Eve wasn’t too bad but actually opening presents would have felt like heresy.

Gemma winning a horse racing game, where she bet with – and won back – other people’s money. I’d be smiling, too.

Humphrey’s first Christmas, and the dawning realisation that my mum will use every festive period as an excuse to humiliate him in costume. This year he was a Christmas pudding.

After everyone left, my brother and I continued our annual tradition of watching the best worst movie on Christmas Eve. After last year’s disaster with Mean Girls 2 (whose similarity to its predecessor begins and ends with the title) we decided to play it safe and revisit our childhood with ’80s classic, The Monster Squad.

Christmas morning! The (sole?) benefit of having a 10-year-old girl in the house is that we were woken up so early on Christmas morning that we actually had more than enough time to open presents, eat, etc. before mum had to leave for work.

I’ve resigned myself to the fact that I will be receiving presents “from Santa” for the rest of my life.

Courtesy of my wonderful mother, I’m now the proud owner of an iPad – as much a gift for John as it is for me since it means I can finally stop monopolising his! I was also pleasantly surprised by the gorgeous Bell Jar in the upper right there: an impressive feat given that I was actually there when she bought it months earlier. The one thing this picture sadly doesn’t illustrate is the contents of that cardboard tube: to wit – a gift form my brother in the form of an original Death Becomes Her movie poster, used in the cinemas at the times of its release. Expect to see it dominating a wall of my home any day now.

Lucy was suitably impressed with her haul. I can’t remember the exact quote but Stephen Fry asked on an episode of QI whether it was true or false that 70% of pet owners buy Christmas presents for their animals. The panellist responded, “Surely it’s 100%? What sort of evil bastard would have a pet and not buy them a Christmas present?”

Our unintentionally Aryan family portrait. This was my Christmas present for mum, which proved surprisingly hellish in its creation. I tried to get it printed out at Jessops the day before I left for Dundee and was told that it would be ready for collection at noon the following day – fully two hours after I was due to catch the train. I ended up sending it to the Dundee branch instead via their online service, and even then it wasn’t ready until Christmas Eve, at which point I had to ask my brother to collect it for me before he came to the house. To mum’s credit, she did a very good job of feigning surprise when she opened it, given that I’d called her up the previous week to ask what colour of photo frame would match her living room.

Sadly we had to bid farewell to her come lunchtime, at which point I headed over to my brother’s to spend the day there instead. Continuing the previous evening’s shit-movie-a-thon, we put on Reform School Girls (the eponymous “girls” played by mostly 30+ year-olds), a sexploitation thriller which did not disappoint.

We also caught an obscene amount of ITV’s endless Disney marathon (including but not limited to Aladdin, Tangled and Toy Story), as well as Scrooged and the Christmas episodes of The Golden Girls.

“Blanche, I could get herpes listening to this story!”

So Gemma has this kit where you make patterns with beads then iron over them to fuse the design together. I’m forever playing it with when I go back, so – for irony’s sake – my mum gave me a set of my own for Christmas. Not gonna lie – it was one of my favourite presents, and I spent literal hours making old-school, 8-bit pixel characters.

At night, we watched Die Hard for the first time (I wasn’t even aware that it was set at Christmas) which I actually loved. By curious coincidence, Kim later showed me her own Christmas photos, in which her brother-in-law was wearing this very jumper:

I desperately wish it were mine.

“Did you say hello?”
“No, I said ‘allo, but that’s close enough.”

(I’m not 100% sure why my brother owns a bible, but I’d put good money on it being decor.)

Aaaand back to mum’s on boxing day. I swear some of these pictures aren’t of cats.

The next day, the time had finally come to break in Colin’s new Monopoly set!

I was happy as long as I was playing Lumpy Space Princess.

“I’m sorry that you’re starving because I ate all of your crops, even though you’re all still really fat, and I probably helped you lose some weight.”

I also made a concerted effort to own the whole of lumpy space.

Colin, despite it being his present, took a fairly savage beating from the outset.

Obscene. And tragically inaccurate since Kim’s brother Scott was playing BMO…

…and was ruining us all.

I was lumping bankrupt within the first few hours, and Kim soon followed suit.

…at which point Colin had a swift change of fortune and went on to win the entire thing. Mathematical!

Yay! To the mesosphere! Finally we can die.

It took all my will power not to steal the set after we were done. Apropos of the freakish bond that can only come of knowing someone for the better part of you life, one of Colin’s first questions on opening this on Christmas Day was whether I’d made Slime Princess, Tree Trunks and the Ice King – the exact three that I had, in fact, been responsible for.

Humphradoodle!

Save for the fact that they don’t light up anymore, those bottles have held up pretty well given that we bought them in Florida 12 years ago.

I suspect my love of nasally-challenged animals is hereditary.

Humph wants you to draw him like one of your French girls.

He is, unquestionably, a mummy’s boy, and rarely more than a foot away from mum at any given time.

On my final day in Dundee, I had no idea that John was desperately trying to contact me on my (by that point dead) phone to tell me that the train I was planning to get would take more than double the usual time and required me to make a connection in Edinburgh. Thankfully this disaster was narrowly-avoided by him texting Colin instead, who – as it happens – I was having lunch with at that very moment. Granted, this necessitated me skipping dessert, but that’s a small price to pay when the alternative is a four-hour train journey which should have lasted an hour and a half.

It also got me in with plenty of time to celebrate Christmas #2 with John and the cats!

Turkey and (Andrew Garfield as) Spiderman = the perfect second Christmas.

As it turns out, I needn’t have worried about missing dessert either as John was already prepared to make these: apple pies baked in actual apples! I’d seen a picture of them online just before I left, and John ended up making them twice while I was gone. To pre-empt my inevitable complaints, he had all the ingredients ready for a third batch as soon as I got back.

These were a puff pastry variant, which were amazing, though I’d love to try them with actual pie crust. Hint hint.

Amazing. An adjective I would also apply to:

…my new pyjama bottoms!

The one tragedy is that I don’t actually wear clothes to bed so they’ll never have a chance to fulfil their life purpose, but that’s not to say they don’t have a glowing career ahead of them on days where I can’t be bothered getting dressed. Case in point: I am wearing them at this very moment.

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