As the adverts have hammered home since late November, Christmas is a time of jocund family harmony and togetherness. Tinsel, tradition and happy tears, God bless us every one! So why are you already examining a Virgin trains timetable and spending periods in the garden cooling down over your uncle’s views on the Nigella trial? Or hiding from bonus features on Mrs Brown’s Boys Live? Take this simple questionnaire and decide the time frame in which it’s permissible to bid your kin goodbye. And if you’re Home Alone already, maybe it’s time to enjoy a certain festive smugness?
Where did you sleep on Christmas Night?
a) In your own lovely bed? Or in a bed in a tastefully decorated guest wing with fresh sheets, an en-suite Saniflow loo and quilted bog roll with holly on
b) In your childhood bedroom with Luke from Bros watching you. The storage facility is hanging your pants on your mother’s exercise bike.
c) You are on a blow-up bed in the room where your Aunt Sheila keeps all her Cat Show paraphernalia and her ink-jet printer, sleeping top and tail with a child under the age of three who has one foot in your face at all times.
What Christmas TV classic most resembles your family Christmas?
a) The Good Life Christmas special where Tom, Barbara, Margo and Jerry discover the true meaning of fellowship, empathy and joy.
b) The Royle Family 2008 Christmas Special – crap cooking, too much booze but a general feeling of bonhomie.
c) Eastenders 2012 – the bit where Bianca chucked a full roast turkey at Terry’s ex-wife’s head.
How is the Wifi situation at your Christmas venue?
a) Fast, plentiful, reliable. You’re in your uncle’s heated pool in the gazebo right now, lolzing with your friends on Twitter and watching Dr Who on iPlayer.
b) There is painfully slow WiFi, in limited rooms, and not your bedroom. The pass-code is 19 digits long and your laptop won’t remember it plus it is written on
a piece of a cornflakes box which keeps going missing.
c) You have no Wifi, no internet connection, no 3G. Any mention of this in front of your family is greeted with the expression that Ned Ludd reserved for the Spinning Jenny in 1764.
What best sums up your family’s approach to you at Christmas?
a) You are treated like a fascinating, cosmopolitan demi-god. The fact that you’re there makes it verily “The Most Wonderful Time of the Year”. The TV volume is forever on mute so they can all behold your worldly anecdotes, and the fridge heaves with tempting titbits that are known to be your favourites.
b) In their eyes, it wouldn’t be Christmas without you. Plus you’re always handy if Auntie Joyce needs help with her trip down to the big Asda. No one, under pressure, could actually explain where you work. Your anecdotes are upstaged by the cat chasing a bauble or simply “people noticing it’s raining”.
c) Anecdotes about stuff you did aged 12 are still brought up by your brood as pass-agg [passive aggressive] examples of “exactly what you are like”. By Christmas Eve, you had reverted mentally to this very same child and spent yesterday bickering crossly with your sister about who ate all the Quality Street green triangles.
If ITV1 called you right now and asked your family to appear on ‘All-Star Festive Family Fortunes’ would you…
a) Round up your charming clan and head off to see Vernon Kaye safe in the knowledge that this bright, well-adjusted bunch will neither embarrass you nor let you down.
b) Say yes, but make some tactful omissions from the line-up, leaving your EDL-supporting brother-in-law and your auntie with no front teeth on the subs bench.
c) Say yes, then call a theatrical extras agency. Appear on the box with your “parents” played by George Lamb and Stephanie Beecham lookalikes, and your “siblings” by ringers from Mensa.
What do the following days of post-Christmas downtime have in store for you?
a) You wake to the delicious smell of fresh kedgeree and coffee wafting from an informal breakfast buffet. There is talk of port, board games and getting cracked into a Game of Thrones box-set. Vibe: relaxed.
b) You wake to the screams of a child falling down stairs on a Pogo stick, Despicable Me 2 on DVD, and the smell of turkey being microwaved. There is talk of up to 70 relatives “popping by” and “bringing the little ’uns”. Vibe: hectic.
c) You wake in a crumpled party hat with red wine stained “tramp’s lips” and the horrible feeling that things were said last night that really shouldn’t have been said even if they were valid and important. Also, whoever called the police was being really bloody petty. Vibe: Mike Leigh movie.
Mostly A’s: You are in the cushy Christmas zone. Richard Curtis couldn’t whip up a cosier festive feel-good vibe. You and your family could possibly get along nicely until at least next Sunday. Get a big jigsaw on the go and start chipping away at that Christmas cake. You’re the people John Lewis’s ad department wish they were filming for next year’s snuggle-fest.
Mostly B’s: Ah Christmas. It’s lovely to say hello to your family and it’s lovely to say goodbye. Your ideal date for family separation is 27 December with plenty of hugs and kisses and then a nice lie-down in a darkened room to process the full joy and horror of what just happened.
Mostly C’s: Hopefully you are reading this in a motorway service-station. Or you’re holed up in the local greasy spoon café, having scrawled the helpful hint “GET OUT OF MY HOUSE” on your bathroom mirror. Christmas can be a trial for many of us, but at least you tried. And remember, there’s ALWAYS next Christmas.