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So, Christmas. Each year, I fly around 8,000 miles, over the Atlantic, to come here, to The Mom’s, to celebrate this festive event with my family. And it never fails to disappoint, though each year, there’s always something a little bit different.

This year, the difference was that instead of seeing Crazy D for a few days in situ, as it were, he has been here the entire time. As has L’il Sis. In years gone by, if The Mom and I wanted to see either of them, formal requests had to be made, emails and texts sent, cars sent to ferry people around, bus schedules consulted and that sort of thing.

Now, we just shout. They’re in the house, and if they’re not, they’ll be back soon.

So, instead of Christmas being the one day, it’s rolling over into all of the days, which is lovely if unsettling. The thing is, I was used to the routine of The Mom’s house the way it was when I moved out.

And I must admit, this new world order is throwing me off somewhat.

Normally, when I arrive from the airport, I’ll have asked The Mom specifically to not make a fuss and to not have a big thing at dinner. Normally, she ignores me completely. She’ll have the house cleaned to within an inch of its life, everything will be set out just so, a pile of newspaper articles for me to read positioned at my spot at her table, the lights will be dimmed, the music blaring (the only CD we have that is in any way festive is a Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton CD and Lord save us if it gets scratched). I will enter into the house, be greeted with hugs and some kind of off hand remark and when I ask when we might be eating because it’s three in the morning to me and I’m a bit peckish, she’ll normally say we’re waiting for L’il Sis and Other Brother to bring any number of dogs over. Because arriving home without being greeted by all of the dogs one knows would be incorrect.

This year, though, the house looked not the way it does when The Mom is in charge. And I suppose that could be said for a country as well. I imagine what Cuba might look like once the Castro days are done, or what Britain might look like if David Cameron and George Osborne finally fuck right off. The Mom’s house looked much more lived in than normal. And no one was sent out into the cold, dark night to fetch up other people I was too tired to talk to. Because they were all – minus Other Brother – here. In the kitchen.

But they weren’t eating dinner with me. One had eaten already, one didn’t want to eat, and the other was eating later.

I looked at The Mom, puzzled.

She laughed hysterically, threw her hands in the air and said, “Merry Christmas! Eat quick before one of the dogs gets it!”