It's Christmas and you're heading home to see your family. Do any of these flashpoints sound familiar?
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From October onwards your relatives will phone you to be weirdly obsessive about food plans. “What kind of ham do you want, darling?” “So, I’ve put a fish pie in the freezer for the 27th…” We’ve even heard of people sending out spreadsheets of meals in advance.
Your workplace begins to fill up with suitcases and bags of wrapped presents.
A nice elderly woman is sitting in your pre-booked seat on a crowded train. You ask her to move, feeling really guilty, and then smack yourself in the knee with the tin of luxury biscuits you have in a dangling bag.
The point during a car journey when you become full of hatred and bile: “I TOLD you we should have left earlier. We’re going to spend CHRISTMAS on A MOTORWAY. There will be no room at the Premier Inn! Have 2000 years of nativity taught you NOTHING?”
*Looks stonily out of window at a carrier bag blowing down the hard shoulder.*
“We apologise for the unscheduled delay to your service. We are working with Network Rail to resolve the issue. Please note the buffet car is currently closed due to staff shortages. We apologise for any inconvenience.” You take to Twitter to swear violently about the train company.
You draw a diagram on a Costa Coffee napkin, explaining your extended family tree to your other half. A rogue spill renders the relationship between your uncle’s ex-wife and your mum unreadable.
Your dad picks you up from the station, but refuses to park and revs in the taxi rank, shouting to get your attention. “OVER HERE LOVE! THIS WAY. IF THEY THINK I’M PAYING THOSE CHARGES THEY’VE GOT ANOTHER THING COMING, THE BLOODY COWBOYS.”
The layout of your home town has changed since you lived there. You circle a surprising new ringroad three times, jabbing at Google Maps and getting panic-sweat on your touchscreen.
Finally. Your house. Your family. Your Christmas. Sit down and have a cup of tea and mince pie.