MOLLY LYNCH: Great comfort of family gatherings

Call the Midwife.
Call the Midwife.
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AS you read this, Christmas probably seems like a distant memory. The gifts have been packed away, you’ve mourned the loss of Matthew Crawley from Downton Abbey and are busy searching the internet for the nearest Weight Watchers meeting location.

This was my first Christmas since moving out of the family home and, at the risk of sounding like Tiny Tim, it taught me that it is the consistency, those little Lynch family traditions which make it magic, some of which I have shared below:

The fact my mother still spends December in a constant state of anxiety. I am 23 years old. I live alone in a big city and pay bills like other grown-ups and yet she agonises over the size of my present pile being the same as my younger siblings.

As I struggled to wade through the mountain of gifts, it dawned on me that I may not have many years of this left.

The realisation reiterated a long-held belief that I’d be an absolute fool to give my parents grandchildren. Sit by and watch as the majority of Molly’s Present Fund is spent on my offspring while I’m given Mothercare vouchers? No chance.

My father wrapping up a pack of cigarettes for my mother and getting down on one knee as he presents it to her. After two decades she knows better than to believe he is finally popping the question. Just as he knows that she’d much prefer a new kitchen to marrying him, anyway. Incinerated stuffing. I’ve developed such a taste for burnt sage and onion that if it was served to me without the black bits I’d send it back and ask for the chef to give it another 15 minutes in the cooker.

The fudge flavour is always the first to run out in the tin of Quality Street. By December 28, all that remained were a sea of wrappers and a few of the coconut ones.

Moaning about the telly. I’ve heard the phrase ‘there’s nothing on’ more times than Merry Christmas or Happy New Year. It is during these conversations that I am forced to remind the rest of my family that if they find their Sky Plus boxes in both rooms inadequate they should try living with just Freeview.

The fact I soldier on through repeats of QI, Passport Patrol and Traffic Cops is worthy of another pile of presents altogether. That said, I did engage in some Asti-fuelled moaning as I sat through Christmas Day television. Having refused to join in City Monopoly, because of my anti-capitalist principles, I was forced to endure an episode of Call the Midwife with my mum and nana. A belly full of turkey and childbirth scenes made for a queasy combination.

Boxing Day buffet. It’s the only time of year the Lynch household has a cheese board (of the plastic, supermarket-bought variety – we’re not posh enough for a wooden one). Being the wonderful daughter I am, I decided to give my mother a break and prepare it this year. And it was no mean feat. Unwrapping cooked meats from bits of cling film and putting prawns on a plate really took it out of me.

Christmas in my house might be so predictable you could set your watch by it, but I would not change it for the world.

Here’s to the next one.

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