Suddenly you forget about the family health issue that brought you home in the first place and you realise, ‘hey, I’m home for Christmas’. You begin to think of all the Christmases you missed out on and decide that every cloud must have a silver lining, let’s celebrate Christmas, Home Style.
It was one of traditions I missed the most, a few weeks before Christmas a group of us girls would meet up, back in 1998, the group was about twenty strong, Of course we went all-out with the clothes, December didn’t stop us wearing 6 inch skirts and 8 inch heels, fake tan slathered on, as thick as icing on a cake and Bobs your uncle, Fanny’s your aunt, we were off. We’d meet for an early bird, move on to a bar, then another bar, then another, then a nightclub, then another nightclub if that one was deemed useless, then the chipper, then back to a house, then home at birdsong. It was always a great night, those that could remember it always enjoyed it and those that couldn’t were always sorry they got so hammered so early, but that’s Christmas was all about we reassured each other.
By 2006, the group had slackened off to about ten because, most of the girls were abroad tripping about Woodbury Common, doing the last of their Christmas Shopping and those that weren’t in New York shopping, had gone to Bulgaria, either to buy a new set of veneers for the perfect smile for Christmas day or to co-sign on yet another block of apartments in Sofia. The ten that came to the party, booked in to the hotel, not for any real reason other than we had the disposable income and why not! The wine for the table was ordered by Shirley, who had started travelling to France to fill their wine cellar, she knew a lot, suddenly, about grapes and we daren’t order a bottle of new world wine in her presence. We compared handbags, husbands and ho(au)-pairs, the three big markers of status back in 2006. We passed on traipsing to a nightclub, none of us wanted to ruin our heels on the path, so instead we ordered champagne or moitijos at the residents bar and gave the hotel staff, who were fabulous, a huge tip, to say thanks for everything like. Nobody remember going back up to the adjoining suites.
By 2011, the group was down to six, two had emigrated and two were too broke to attend. I was lucky to be able to attend as I was between Doha and Abu Dhabi. Dinner was reduced to nibbles. Shirley ordered the house and not the old world, we all felt for her, the likelihood of paying a cover charge for a nightclub was nil and the chance of paying to stay in a hotel was fat. We discussed tracker and fixed mortgages, we commended Penneys for turning us out, shoes included, for Eu 27. We compared Groupon, Living Social and Grabone deals, we wore Maybelline not Mac, we got a lift in and shared a taxi home, we drank until we were dry (cash) and everyone remembered going home.
Last night it was 2014 and there were five. The ten that went to New York and Bulgaria, it appears never came back. The two that emigrated (three including me) only come home in summer. The two that were broke in 2011, are still broke and the one that dropped since 2011, didn’t want to invest in the Eu11 Penneys top to listen to moaning and groaning about austerity measures.
We enjoyed a well-priced four course menu. Praise for the ‘bring your own bottle’ idea, Shirley was able to bring along two nice bottles of Sancerre, which cost her Eu.8 and not the Eu.48 we paid back 2006. Not a Penneys top in sight, as we had all stretched to River Island or Warehouse. No pressure to pay to go to a nightclub as we were all passed it (passed paying entrance fees, not passed nightclubs per se).
So only 18 years later, the numbers quartered but the quality quadrupled, we were going strong and it would appear we had come full circle.