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I knew before I landed that what awaited me was a moveable feast of sorts. I’d had in drips and drabs several missives from The Mom outlining the lead up to Christmas. There were several dinners, with a rotating cast of guests. Which is unusual because normally everybody, family, friends, dogs, just knows to turns up on the actual day. But in the intervening year, Other Brother has moved into the city so isn’t able to drop over at a moment’s notice. And The Mom’s bf had other plans (or sensibly decided that he couldn’t bear another mental Christmas dinner with our lot).

At any rate, The Mom did her level best to make sure that everyone was seen and fed over the course of a week.

Which was the first week I’d arrived home.

Which was the first (or three) weeks I suffered with The World’s Worst Head Cold.

Which was also the reason I was more subdued than usual (as in, I didn’t at any point lurch across the table, or stand on my chair shouting with Crazy D for fun and sport and to annoy someone else).

The dinners were all very tasty and I was shocked to see The Mom doing so much in the way of cooking and eating. One of the reasons I enjoy staying with her so much is that she forces me to do neither, which L’il Sis and Crazy D are none too keen on. If I stay with them, I not only have to eat, but I have to eat bigger portions, and then there’s also the chance that we might get into some competitive cooking. Neither of these are issues with The Mom. In fact, one dinner, days after Christmas, she made me one of my favourite dishes (and even went out to get the green beans that have always been served with the dish which I insist upon eating because I can be a total asshole sometimes), and I balked at the amount of food on our plates.

“Surely this isn’t one chicken breast between us, as per?” I asked.

“We each got one breast.”

“We don’t normally eat more than one breast combined,” I reminded her.

“Eat what you can. We can finish it tomorrow,” she said.

But, I digress. Actually, I’ll digress once more to explain the previous digression: I have only just arrived back into the UK. It is early here, and dark. I have jet lag and am more confused than usual. I have also just realised that yesterday was the day I was meant to be writing this.

But yes, back to the mayhem of pre-Christmas dinners. The tricky thing was not the eating or the cooking (I say that because frankly, with a cold, I didn’t do much of either). The tricky thing was getting everybody to remember what they were doing and when.

Scheduling has never, nor will it ever be, the strong suit of anyone in our family. We can deal with our own individual lives – just – but bring anyone else’s schedule into the mix and forget it.

There was a bit of griping and whispering about how the arrangements had been tricky, and I felt it was my duty to get to the bottom of it lest the summer’s visit take a nasty turn.

The Mom, being sensible and orderly, writes things down by hand, in pen, on a paper calendar.

Crazy D’s phone tells him what to do and when. The phone gets its information from a very reliable source: for social events, directions come from his girlfriend, for work, it comes right from his email.

L’il Sis, like me, uses a combination of steps: iCal in the laptop, and then sticky notes plastered wherever might seem unmissable.

The possibility of these things backfiring is high. And made higher still because The Mom has a habit of replying to an email, of which there are upwards of twenty messages in the thread with important details. You think she’s just telling you a funny story, the email gets buried. Then she phones with a hurt and accusing tone asking where the hell you are because dinner is ready. And you’ll have missed the email.

The thing is, as I gleaned from many terse conversations, is that not only do each of us require a personalised dinner that adheres to our many unique eating issues, but we also require an individual method of inputting the relevant details of when that dinner is to take place. We are not a uniform or standardised group.

Though, having said that, it’s much easier for me. These things are normally held at The Mom’s, and as I stay there, don’t have a car, hate driving, and never go out, even if I didn’t know a dinner was happening with guests, I am fairly certain dinner is happening. So I turn up. Plus, I can’t get far, so I’m rarely late. I suppose that’s why I don’t get so flummoxed with The Mom’s method of announcing these things. I don’t have to remember. Which is always for the best.

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