It’s that time of the year again, the time of year when pre-Xmas family wars suddenly burst in to life and rip through the relations faster than a bush fire in a town made of dry straw.

You may have already experienced your own blazing row or endless sulk session as relatives step in to the ring and start to scrap over who, exactly, is going where and with whom, for Xmas lunch. As luck would have it, I’m a very happy granny this year as virtual grandpa Bob and I are visiting favourite relatives with various grandchildren in tow.

Last year I hosted Xmas and had so many people in the house I was like the old woman who lived in the shoe, but I wasn’t just surrounded by so many children that I didn’t know what to do, but with brothers, sisters, great grannies, step children, girlfriends, wives…in fact Tom Cobley and all.

I think everyone loved it. I loved it…about six months later when I had recovered enough to look back and laugh as I recollected…the dishes eternally stacked high, the beds eternally being stripped and turned around for the next wave of guests, the endless dietary requirements demanded by various visitors and the time I spent in the kitchen.

Actually I spent so much time last year in the kitchen that granddaughter Lily ran in there one day, whilst I was scaling a particularly mountainous pile of dishes, and announced that she had come up with a great idea “Hey Granny, I’ve got a great idea!” she proclaimed, pleased as punch with herself.

I abseiled down from the top of the greasy pile, thrilled to see a human face, though I had heard lots of cheerful voices, way down the hall, far far away, in another land, free from dirty plates and pots and pans and soggy gravy covered leftovers – the lounge, that is. The voices sounded warm and happy the way voices sound when they are coming out of people clapped out in front of the fire, cheerfully knocking back nuts, reading out cracker jokes and fighting over Quality Street favourites.

“You are always in the kitchen.” Lily said, biting off the head of her chocolate Santa.
“Hmmm, so someone’s finally noticed…” I wiped a bead of sweat (or it may have been Turkey fat) from my brow. Martyrdom kicking in as the sympathetic golden haired face of an angel patted my hand and stuffed the crumpled chocolate wrapper in to it.
“So why don’t we bring a little bed in here for you, so that you can stay in the kitchen all of the time?”

Hmmm, I’m convinced that there was a truly kind intention behind the offer, even if the delivery of the idea left a little to be desired. But last Xmas wasn’t the worst Xmas, not the one that still brings me out in a cold sweat in the middle of the night cringing with embarrassment. Oh yes. My bottom’s clenched even now, as the long ago memory comes to mind. That was the Xmas when death came unexpectedly to the table. I will tell you all about it next time…

Marrisse Whittaker is a TV Producer,scriptwriter & creator of website Virtualgranny is a website for grandparents with a young outlook. The site has features, video content, social networking & a shopping mall. An online soap for grandparents is coming soon. What would you like to see on site? Log on and have your say!