Well, dear readers, members of the Expaterati, Ladies and Gentlemen, I hope you had a Merry Chrimbo, because I am sorry to say that I totes did not. Despite all my efforts to be good this year, and to give my family a lovely day, Santa basically dropped a bag of flaming poop on my doorstep.
The helper had the morning off, so I made everyone a beautiful breakfast of scrambled eggs with smoked salmon, and mimosas. Well, I supervised. Even though he is almost 7 years old, Max is still miserably bad at cracking eggs, so he got a lot of shell in the mix. Then he had the heat turned up too high, which made the scrambled eggs into murderous lumps of orange fishy sponge. Ugh.
Mummy was in charge of the mimosas. She opened the champagne far too brusquely, and the pop made Froo Froo dog pee all over the floor. Mummy then proceeded to pour herself and Don huge measures of champas vs orange juice, but gave me only the tiniest bit of bubbles, with mostly pulp. Not only that, she insisted on making fresh OJ, which meant that I had to spend several hours of my Christmas Day cleaning the juicer! I had been hoping to bust a chill after breakfast, maybe catch some rays and a swim on the roof terrace. Thanks for ruining that, Mummy!
Max and Milly were of course completes over-excited about opening their presents, and their awful noise also scuppered my chill plans. By midday I was worn out, so I went back to bed while Don sloped off to his cigar club, and Mummy and the help took the irritants to church.
When everyone got back, we did our obligatory Skype sessions with the family back home. I could really have done with more sleep, but I made the sacrifice, in keeping with this season of giving.
I don’t know why I did though, because all I got in return for my efforts was a ton of grief about the presents the helper had ordered on Amazon. I told her quite plainly to get pretties for the women, and toys and gadgets for the children and men. That’s pretty clear lah, ya?? Ya, lah, you agree, of course!
Apparently, my instructions, when translated into Tagalog, became crotchless underwear for the ladies (including my sister who we all know only wears huge off-white pants), and a selection of these for the men… and for the children! ARGH!! What now, now?? So instead of nice thank yous, I got repeatedly blasted, with each Skype sesh! Well ho bloody ho to you lot back in ole Blighty! As if the children had any idea what an Eva is!! Please, peeps. It has only just come out. Most adults don’t even know about it. (I certainly didn’t.) Cousin Clara the psychologist was the only person who didn’t completes lay into me. She said that my “gift-giving process was fascinating in a perverse way”. So, the best feedback I got was being called a pervert. Fab.
After the calls, I had no choice but to strongly reprimand the helper, and true to form, she immediately burst into tears. That A. Pissed me off, and secondly, made Milly start kicking Froo Froo. Mummy (oh SO empathic, aren’t you?!) grabbed Mills and the helper, and took them away to the upstairs back living room to do god knows what. Max didn’t notice any of it because he was totes immersed in Minecraft la-la land, and Don didn’t even look up from his Economist.
Now one would think, dear readers, that that would be sufficient ruination of my Chrimbo; that I had suffered sufficely from the slings and arrows of outrageous expat exmas fortune. Hells to the NO! Turns out that I had not!!
For the evening meal, I had gone to the major trouble in October of phoning Raffles Hotel to book a fabulous table for their buffet (incl. free-flowing Veuve Click), for Mummy, Don and I. It truly is a gorgeous-amundo setting, and it was supposed to be the perfect ending to our special family xmas.
That, it was not. Mummy was in a foul mood and hardly spoke. Until, that is, she was on her third glass of VC (after two G & T aperitifs), which is when all hell broke loose.
Raising her glass, she began to speak: “Well Emma-Jane, and you too, Don, I would like to say thank you so much for a truly delightful Christmas… For your wonderful generosity of spirit, and your warm hosting…”
“Oh Mum-ski”, I blushed prettily, like Kate Middleton, “There’s really no need to thank us…”
“No, what I was going to say is that I would like to thank you, but in actual fact, I am utterly appalled by the two of you. As if this trip wasn’t bad enough, Hilda has told me everything, and I’m absolutely disgusted!”
[WHAT?! Who the eff is Hilda??!]
Fighting through my shock at Mummy’s bizarre and totes unexpected outburst, I looked at Don to see what he was going to do to defend me. He stood up and went to the buffet.
“What on earth are you talking about, and who the bloody hell is HILDA??!”, I managed to say, after a quick touch-base with my higher power.
“Hilda, stupid girl, is your helper! She has a name, you know?!”
Oh! Hilda!! Right, that’s her name. Of course. Lololol!! In those moments I was terribly worried that Mummy had dementia too, that she had invented a mystical all-seeing being, and that I would have to get Don’s PA to find her a home too. Twice in one week! That would have been pushing it with the PA’s goodwill – even at this time of year.
“Yes, ok, I know who Hilda is. But I still have no clue what you’re on about, Mother. And I find it humungously ungrateful – even deeply abusive – that you would attack your daughter like this on Christmas Day!”, I told her, firmly but kindly.
“It’s just rude, Mummy. Rude!”, I added for good measure.
“Is it?? Is it really, Emma-Jane?”, she continued, insisting on using my full name just to be a big B.
“Hilda has told me about your drinking, that you’re drunk virtually every day and night, that you’re never home with the children, and that you SMOKE! Smoking, Emma-Jane?? Grow up!”
While I was putting my side of the story across, explaining that it’s terribly stressful being a trailing spouse and expat mother, constantly straining to adapt, she had the nerve to keep spewing.
“You are a terrible mother! Milly has serious anger issues, Max is addicted to Minecraft, and Don!! Do you even know what your husband is up to, while you’re swanning about?!”
By this point, I had been rendered speechless, for possibly the first time in my 38 years on this planet. I think even my hair had de-pouffed.
“I’ll tell you what Hilda said, shall I? Not only does Don have a drawer full of un-mentionables, but he is involved with another woman, at least one other woman. Where do you think he disappeared off to today? The cigar club wasn’t even open!!”, she hissed at me.
“Did you know that, Emma-Jane?? Did you? So, you are a terrible mother and a failed wife. Thank goodness you have your career to fall back on… Oh, no, wait a minute, you have no career either!! Look at yourself! On the brink of 40, and this is all you have to show? Very little, Emma-Jane. Very, very little.”
At last the tirade came to a close. I stared into space, as sweetly as I could, given the trying circumstances.
Don came back from the buffet.
“More champas, Glammy Gammy?”, he asked.
“Yes”, replied Mummy with a smile, “Yes, I think I will. Why not? It is Christmas, after all.”
“Cheers!”, Mummy said, once the champagne had been poured.
“So Don, my darling, Emma-Jane and I have been having a little chat in your absence, and we’ve come to the realisation that I’ve been away too long, and the rest of the family need me to go home. I won’t be coming with you to Boracay, very unfortunately, but I hope you have a lovely time. I’ll be leaving in the morning. I’ve decided to stay here at Raffles tonight, so as not to get under your feet for any longer than necessary. I’ll pop by tomorrow to say goodbye to Hilda and the children.”
“What a shame, Gammy!”, Don said, like he had just lost a few quid on the horses, “We’ll miss you awfully. But of course, needs must!”
Yes, I thought, in the cab back to Emerald Hill Road: needs bloody well must. Thank phewy that judgmental, insensitive, helper-loving woman won’t be joining us on our fabulous holiday in paradise. Branjelina and their brood stayed in the exacto same sea-view villa we’ll be in this time tomorrow, so you go home, Mother, and enjoy your lovely rainy New Years in suburban London. Needs must, sweetie Mum-ski. Whatevs.
So, merry flaming poop in a bag expat exmas, Expaterati peeps. May all your dreams come true.