Christmas is fast approaching, and it’s nearing the time that most people will at least start thinking about preparing for festivities.

My friend Mae was tasked recently in the shop where she works to put up the Christmas decorations and Christmas lights.

“It wasn’t as straightforward as I first thought, Janice.”

I knew by these familiar words that some sort of disaster had occurred, and Mae was quick to enlighten me on her latest calamity.

“The decorations were easy to put up and I even tested the box of Christmas lights before I used them in case they were faulty.”

Mae seemed pleased that she was ahead of the game with the Christmas lights.

“I was very happy with the results of my hard work and all the customers admired my decorations until my boss appeared and took one look at the wiring in his shop.”

“What did he say?” I asked as I studied the picture Mae had taken of her wiring efforts.

“He was lost for words initially and then asked me to unplug everything immediately.”

And looking at the picture from every angle I could see why.

“As he left the shop he mumbled something about the electrics blowing and I shouted back at him, no worries boss, it looks like I just got my wires crossed.”

Mae laughed and offered: “I’ll help you put up your Christmas tree if you like, Janice.”

However, following Mae’s attempts to ‘light up’ her shop I quickly and politely declined her offer of assistance.

“You’re OK, Mae.” I smiled.

“I don’t want you getting your wires crossed again.”

Mae’s Christmas decorating fiasco reminded me of Christmas Day last year when friends of mine Jim and Margaret, along with their son-in-law Jack’s parents were invited to their daughter Lucy and Jack’s house for Christmas dinner.

“We hadn’t been out of the house for Christmas dinner since Lucy was born,” Margaret explained.

“So we couldn’t wait to chill out as guests instead of hosts for a change.”

And as anyone who has hosted a Christmas dinner knows, it’s bloody hard work!

“Lucy’s dinner table was like a cover picture of Good Food Magazine, “ Margaret enthused “It was amazing.”

“Every place setting had a gorgeous gold and white Christmas cracker, the cutlery and glasses were gleaming and the centre piece decoration was like something out of Debenhams window!”

Jim nodded quietly in agreement as she added.

“Every champagne flute had a little coloured bauble attached to the stem.”

Jim continued to nod.

“She even went to the bother of making every gold napkin into the shape of a Christmas tree!”

Margaret seemed well chuffed at her daughter’s first attempt at hosting Christmas dinner.

“And as an added wee surprise,” she took a deep breath for effect.

“She even put a Christmas scratch card under everyone’s side plate.”

Margaret painted a picture of Christmas bliss and harmony until...

“Lucy served up the main course and we were just about to pull our crackers when Jim decided that as he didn’t like wine or champagne he would pour himself a wee Sambuca.”

Margaret scowled over the top of her specs at her ‘still-in-the-doghouse’ husband.

“He also decided he would show off to the grandkids and light his Sambuca.”

I could tell Jim was still paying the price for his rash decision.

“So, he poured the Sambuca into a small glass, dropped in a few coffee beans, and struck a match to light his drink.”

Jim kept unusually quiet at this point and I wondered if his attempt to light his favourite tipple had failed. But no. According to Margaret: “The Sambuca instantly caught fire.”


She made some interesting sound effects.

“And unfortunately, so did the paper tablecloth.”


Jim seemed unable to defend his idiotic actions and offered no explanation so Margaret continued.

“He must have dribbled to Sambuca on the table cloth and like wildfire the flames quickly ravaged the length of the table.”

According to Margaret, her son in-law Jack sprung to his feet and doused the flames using the kids large jug of diluting juice. The ‘Good Food Magazine’ image quickly turned into a scene from the Poseidon Adventure as the table was now completely sodden and covered in floating items. “The Christmas dinner was completely ruined and poor Lucy was blubbing.”

Three days of hard work and preparation vanished in a few seconds, right before Lucy’s eyes.

“Oh, no Margaret.” I gasped.

“What are you...”

“And before you ask, Janice.”

Margaret cut me off.

“We are staying in this year.”

Looks to me like it could be another few years before Margaret and Jim venture out again for Christmas dinner!