On Christmas Day 2019, my boyfriend (we all know who I’m referring to, but I’ve sworn 2021 will be a David-free zone, so we might as well start now: think of it as a dry run) proposed with a ring. I then made him change the ring because it was yellow gold (as Sex and the City’s Samantha said to Carrie when she got a similar offering: ‘No wonder you threw up’).
But this Christmas I am resolutely, one hundred per cent single, and will be spending it entirely alone. My only human contact will be with my friend Isobel, who has suggested a walk on the moor on Boxing Day with our dogs, a mince pie and a flask.
The only disadvantages to not having a man around for Christmas that I can think of are as follows:
- The almonds in your mixed nuts in shells collection will remain, like the pubs down the road in tier 3, stubbornly closed.
- There is no one around to mend the fairy lights, so you have to order a new string (in my case, copper with teeny LED lights from Abigail Ahern).
And what do we avoid, gals? Well, how about when you get home, having braved the supermarket and a pandemic, and spent £300, and have carrier-bag fingers, he says, ‘Did you get any cider vinegar?’ What else? No peelings piled up in the sink. No bringing any off-piste items you have not asked for into the house, such as crystallised fruit and dates.
And, admit it: in previous years, haven’t you held on to a man, just to have a warm body on your arm for the office Christmas party? Now they are cancelled, who needs one? If you party on Zoom, all you need is a cardboard cutout of Patrick Swayze brooding in a corner (and don’t think I don’t have one).
I’ve had some terrible Christmases while with a man. In 2006, my husband walked out on Christmas Eve, having refused to go ice skating with me, my sister and my nephew at Somerset House, even though I’d had to pull strings to get tickets. ‘What is this?’ he had said. ‘A romcom?’
Last Christmas, He Who Shall Not Be Named was rude to my friend who was staying with us. When I asked if the dogs had water, he replied, ‘I have no idea.’ You give a man a thoughtful, expensive gift (N Peal cardigan with a pink trim) and he doesn’t even fold it nicely. On Christmas Day, playing Scrabble, he revealed he was so disengaged, wanting to watch an endless unfunny panel-show game on TV, while also mentioning how much he fancied Victoria Coren, that when you put the tiles away, you realised he left a few in the box.
New Year’s Eve, when you are shackled to a man is generally no better. I took my then husband to Thailand, but he fell asleep, like a toddler, before the fireworks even began. On my first New Year’s Eve with He Who Shall Not Be Named, he let slip his friend had posted something nasty and untrue about me on Mumsnet, thus spoiling my evening. I couldn’t for the life of me get a cab back to my flat, so he drove me home at full speed.
So it is a man-free zone for me this year. Yes. Just collies, horses, my signature nut roast with spicy peanut sauce. And not a shelled almond in sight.
Ooh. I’ve just received a text: ‘Hello, beautiful. How are you? How are the puppies? It’s been a long, long time since I drove up the A1.’
My response? Not, ‘Are you still not drinking and smoking because I don’t want you in a dark mood.’ Or even, ‘Don’t bring a box of dates.’
Just one simple question: ‘What tier are you in?’
Merry Christmas everyone!