Christmas Day at Peggy’s!

Well, finally, it’s here- Christmas, I mean. No more build-up.  No more out of control trollies driven by demented little women with grim determined faces. No more shop assistants dressed up in Santa outfits looking ridiculous. I just wonder is there a clause(excuse pun)n the small print of their contract these days that they must dress up in these daft outfits and wear antlers?? I can’t really come up with any other reason for their agreeing to make spectacles of themselves in public. Some of them look as glum has Enda Kenny when he realised that the water charges protestors aren’t going away, you know.

Anyway it was Peggy’s turn to do the Christmas this year. As well as myself, there was Bridie and Mick and Dolores, our other friends also joining us. Dolores is a grand dancer, she’s one of the best in the village sean-nós group. They often do a show below at the Singing Donkey Lounge Bar and they’re brilliant, you should just see them. Then there’s her husband, Mick, well, I know it’s Christmas and the season of good will and all that but whichever way you look at Mick, he’s wan right thick cabóg. I don’t know what Dolores ever saw in him – of course, she was barely twenty when she married him. Shure, what does anyone know at twenty? Anyway, the bright spot on the horizon in that though we may have to put up with Mick, let’s be grateful for small mercies in that at least we’re not entertaining Lourda Kennefick.

I honestly think if I had to sit through Christmas dinner listening to that Lourda murdering her vowels and shaking her badly dyed black head at me, I’d end up doing her an injury, a permanent one, Christmas or no Christmas. I mean where did she pick up that accent? I know she used to be a Speech and Drama teacher but c’mon, the woman never left the village for more than a month so where in the name of God did she turn up that accent?

I popped in to Peggy this morning to see if she wanted a hand and shure the woman nearly threw me out the door. She was there with the turkey and she pouring scalding water all over it. Well, I can tell you if the bird wasn’t already well dead, it certainly would be dead now, drowned in scalding water from the electric kettle. She didn’t seem too anxious to have me hanging around so I left her to it – gladly, if I’m to be truthful. Though she had me puzzled as to why she was pouring scalding water by the new time on the bird. I’m not a great cook so maybe it’s some part of a recipe that her mother handed down to her or something.

When I go in later to lay the table, there’s no sign of Peggy, only muffled sounds coming from behind the closed kitchen door. I have to say, though I don’t like blowing my own trumpet, that I lay the table beautifully. A dab hand at it. Crackers beside every plate, the bottles of wine, Peggy’s best dishes handed down by her mother, well, so she says anyway and the mother isn’t around to say anything to the contrary.

Before we know it, Mick and Dolores arrive, Mick with a belly on him that Santa would be ashamed of. You know that Mick must be the glummest looking individual in the parish so he must. They’re closely followed by Bridie who’s all glamour for the occasion. She’s wearing a lovely skirt except that could well be a bone of contention  later on when Peggy has a few taken. She’ll tell Bridie that the skirt is too young for her and couldn’t she wear something more fitting for her age? It’s always the same once Peggy has a few drinks take. She rarely takes a drink during the rest of the year, thank God, she’s a handful enough to cope with when she’s stone cold sober, so she is.

Actually it’s Bridie who notices it first – she has a great sense of smell – except there’s nothing to smell. Sure, our mouths should be watering now with the aroma of the fresh turkey but there’s nothing and there’s still no sign of Peggy. Dolores, who’s very hot tempered, strides over to the kitchen – door and opens it – except it refuses to budge. It’s locked, if you believe. Now we’re all seriously worried. There’s not a sound from the kitchen and we’re terrified that something is after happening to Peggy. We’re all now outside the locked kitchen door and Bridie shouts in to find out what the matter is. Well, we all shout but Bridie tells us for feck’s sake to give over we’re behaving like a group of badly rehearsed banshees. Then just when we’re getting seriously worried for Peggy, we hear this real very meek voice, not at all like her usual one, and we all start screeching like banshees and this time Bridie doesn’t hush us cos she’s screaming louder than anyone of us and is Mick is fucking and blinding Dolores that she persuaded him to come to that bleddy woman’s house for dinner. Jasus, he wants to know what’s wrong with their own kitchen and their own fireside and why in the name of God had she to drag him down to this fool of a woman’s house is beyond him. Then Dolores, fair play to her, tells him to shut his fecking mouth and if he wants to go home, who’s stopping him because she’s staying here anyway.

Well, things calm down a bit when Peggy unlocks the door and comes out of the kitchen, looking as sheepish as I’ve ever seen her. Her eyes are all red and her voice wobbly as she tells us again and agan how sorry she is for not taking  the bleddy turkey out of the freezer in time. Even pouring a deluge of scalding water on the fecking bird for half the morning didn’t thaw the little bastard out, she says. Then she brightens, the woman is an incurable optimist, and says shure, we can have our Christmas Day dinner tomorrow on St Stephen’s Day, there’ll be no problem with the bleddy bird then. Let’s create a fashion out of her mistake, says she airily, instead of moaning over it. Honestly, when she said that I thought that cabóg Mick would strike her, so I did.

So to cut a long story short, that’s why this Christmas Day, we’re sitting down at a wonderfully festive table eating sausages and scrambled egg washed down by glasses of chardonnay and buoyed up by the thoughts of our turkey feast on the morrow. Even Mick has stopped sulking, well, more or less anyway.

So Happy Christmas all.

Vanessa

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