In the usually tranquil lounge, I sat with my arms crossed, my crutches leaning against the sofa, as battle raged.
‘You are not cooking Christmas dinner, Zac!’ my daughter Sophie yelled, aiming a cushion at my son. ‘You couldn’t even cook a fish finger.’
‘Are you talking about yourself again?’ he retorted.
The cushion brushed across the streamers hanging from the ceiling. ‘Mind the tree!’ I warned, as its passing set some of the baubles swinging. The cushion landed with a thud in the corner.
I could hardly believe my children were both intelligent, successful young people, now at university. They’d started acting like 12-year-olds ever since they arrived home for the holidays. I struggled to my feet, leaning my weight onto my crutches. ‘You need to stop this nonsense right now.’
‘What nonsense?’ Zac looks so much like his late father, all blue eyes and blond hair.
‘Yes, what nonsense?’ Sophie looks like me – dark hair and brown eyes.
I glanced around the room. Is it possible to over-do the decorations? My children had tried, plus the task had gained something of a competitive edge this year.
Even the hall looked like Santa’s grotto. Then they’d moved on to the cooking – who had the best stuffing recipe, Delia Smith or Jamie Oliver? Who ought to be in charge of the bird on the big day..?
Zac put on his jacket. Luckily, he was off out with some school friends tonight. He smiled at me before planting a kiss on my cheek. ‘See you later, Mum. Don’t do too much on your ankle.’
‘Just remember not to wake her up when you come home drunk after midnight,’ Sophie said, as he headed for the door. She crossed her arms as soon as he’d disappeared. ‘He’s so immature.’ She gave me a laser-bright smile. ‘Sit down, Mum. I’ll fetch us a cuppa and a mince pie, then we can find something to watch. It is lovely being home with you again.’
I decided not to mention last year, when she hadn’t made an appearance at all, too besotted with her now exboyfriend.
‘I can’t wait to go to Nan’s party tomorrow, either,’ she added. Her gaze lingered on the chair in the corner for a moment. Her dad always used to sit there. ‘It’ll be nice seeing all the family together again.’
‘Yes, it seems your brother feels the same.’
Last year, I’d barely seen anything of Zac either. He’d been too busy off out having fun with his friends.
I rolled over in bed that night, just as the kitchen clock chimed midnight. My ankle was niggling again. I’d tripped as I was running for a bus one icy morning, desperate to get to work early to get on with the hundred things I needed to do that day. I just about ran the offices of the engineering firm I joined five years ago.
Now I could hear Sophie’s voice echoing downstairs. ‘I knew that you’d wake everybody up!’
‘You can’t wake up somebody who’s been waiting for you,’ came Zac’s swift, acidic retort.
Continue reading your story on the app
Continue reading your story in the magazine
The Christmas Tree
The cottage had no festive cheer, but could Jennie create the impression of Yuletide joy before it was too late?
We All Stand Together
If the plan failed, Joan wouldn’t be the only one having an unhappy Christmas
The Christmas Robin
Presents to buy, food to cook and a tree to decorate – could she create the perfect day?
Maudie's First Christmas
With all her dreams of a family Christmas dashed, it seemed that Ruth would have to adjust to a very different festive season this year...
Friends Like You
Leah was about to find out what sort of people she’d had in her life all these years…
She hoped her children would start to compromise soon, or they were in for a distinctly frosty festive season
A CHAT WITH... Sarah Morgan
Well-known for her heart-warming family tales, Sarah Morgan’s latest novel is packed full of love and laughter. Here, she reveals how she comes to craft her characters and she gave her new release that sprinkle of festive magic...
The Generation G-App
It was a lovely idea, but surely there was no way the project would become a successful reality?
Christmas Is Coming
With all the mess, noise and disruption, she was seriously struggling to embrace the festive spirit
The Perfect Gift
The change to their Christmas plans was a shock, though it could teach them a lesson…
FRIDAY, OCT. 8
Meet the winners of our first America’s Best Pet Pals contest. Warm fuzzies guaranteed!
Elton’s gift is a massive marble penis!
1st & Ten with STEFON DIGGS
Stefon Diggs had one of the best seasons ever by a Bills receiver in 2020, and he’s looking for an encore. Diggs was clearly amped up and ready to go as the Bills began their preparations for the new season, leading the huddle and supporting his teammates as they kicked off training camp in Orchard Park. Diggs recently touched on his goals for the upcoming season for both himself and the team in an informative discussion with members of the media. Here are the highlights from that discussion.
RISE AGAINST’s TIM McILRATH and ZACH BLAIR dig through the roots of their unique six-string interplay — and their brawny new album, Nowhere Generation, a message of solidarity to the band’s young fans
How a jaw-dropping Gary Clark Jr. cover on American Idol led to to sharing a stage with buddy Guy, sharing bills with Foo Fighters — and releasing a multi-faceted debut album
MASTER CLASS: THE BARBELL BACK SQUAT
The barbell squat.
Local makers help build an at-home classroom.
Gear Up Your Green Thumb
Whether you have acres of abundant backyard or a small apartment windowsill sitting in sunshine, these beautiful gardening tools and accessories will help you get growing.
Rolled, rebuilt, repainted, ready