Stand by your beds, we’re now organising Christmas

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No sooner have I wiped the smeared Halloween make-up from my naturally grim-looking face, than the ring-a-ting-ting of Christmas bells makes a painfully early appearance.

I like Christmas.

We’re not a religious family, but embrace the season and view it as the ideal time to catch up with distant friends and family, buy each other ill-fitting clothes and eat to the point of rupture.

Although, year on year Christmas seems to become more stressful.

Organising people, places and presents is nothing short of a complex military exercise.

With two enormous families, living in various countries and counties, trying to squeeze everyone in is hellish.

The backbone to Christmas planning is identifying where you are spending December 25.

At home, at the parents, at the in-laws – maybe enjoying the festive frolics in a far-flung place?

But if you go away, that means you have to arrange a ‘pre-season’ tour.

And this means utilising every weekend in December ensuring that everyone gets seen.

This can mean the main feast occurs five or six times in December... not that I’m whingeing about that.

Of course, the highlight of the whole season is the gargantuan and regularly overwhelming Christmas dinner. Especially when it’s a monstrous family affair.

To sit across the table with a wizened aunty or uncle or a distant cousin who’s changed in the 15 years you haven’t seen them from a blotchy bedroom-dwelling drip to swanky London barrister is a real treat.

The stories, the food, the drink, the banter are all superb, but the one thing that I look forward to more than anything else is... the chairs.

Seating 25 people for lunch once every five years doesn’t really justify spending on a battalion sized dining suite.

Functional thinking is called for.

Throw a tablecloth over the table tennis table, then sit Aunty Peg on the padded recliner and Great Uncle Wilbur on the inflatable sofa.

Christmas; the most innovative time of the year.