Today it's the final stop on the Snowed in for Christmas blog tour and it's my pleasure to welcome Claire Sandy with an hilarious guest post about what NOT to say when you're opening your Christmas presents from your family.
In my family there's a Christmas tradition that we open our presents in a circle, taking it in turns. In other words, in my family there's a Christmas tradition that we more or less ruin Christmas by the time my Mother in Law breaks out the bin bags to hustle away the discarded wrapping paper. This fraught hour, full of synthetic joy about supermarket talc sets, has taught me (the hard way) how to receive Christmas presents. Here are the wrong responses, the things you must not say.
1 "Did you keep the receipt?"
The receipt doesn't matter. You'll forget to take it back and that novelty cheese board/Daniel O'Donnell DVD/spatula will rot slowly under the stairs until it gets thrown out. So just smile, hold it to your chest and vow to buy the giver something equally naff next year.
2 "It's just what I always wanted!"
Now is not the time for sarcasm. Unless it's the Koh-i-Noor diamond or a new bottom, don't use this line. It's plain OTT for the ironing board cover your second cousin 'sourced' for you. Just smile and say thank you. Now, that wasn't hard, was it?
3 "It's not my size."
Nobody gets the right size anything at Christmas. This is the time of year when you realise your mother thinks your waistband is hippo-sized but your feet are borrowed from an elf. Just gamely put it on and fold up the cuffs and ignore the screaming agony of your toes and thank God nobody bought you a bra.
4 "I already have this."
Christmas morning brings about a chorus of this refrain, but hold back. Isn't it nice that your dotty aunt remembers you like Harry Potter? So what if she didn't follow that line of thought and realise that if you like Harry Potter that much you probably already own all the Harry Potter books. She's trying her best, as are you, and you're both half-cut on sherry so just gush.
5 "When did I say I collected these ...?"
Inspiration for pressies is hard to come by, so if you ever casually mention in front of a distant relative that you "quite like" ducks or gnomes or Marilyn Monroe, then you must brace yourself for an onslaught of mugs and plates and framed quotes featuring ducks and gnomes and Marilyn Monroe. These things snowball; I received one notebook with a picture of a chihuahua on it in 2003 and now my aunties mutter Ooh she loves chihuahuas and pick up every old bit of tat featuring a wonky print of a small, all ready for Christmas morning.
6 "But it's not funny."
If it's a comedy gift, then you must laugh. Even if it's a plaque that reads You don't have to be mad to work here, but it helps. You must guffaw at every cartoon mug, every t-shirt with fake breasts, every Bumper Book of Jokes about Terminal Disease. It's your Christmas duty.
7 "I'm on a diet."
Every time somebody says this when offered a box of chocolates, a member of the Cadbury family falls down dead. Look, your cousins have heard you talking about this diet since you were fourteen and they've also watched you eat your own body weight in turkey so just do the decent thing, accept the be-ribboned box and pass them around.
8 "What are you trying to say?"
It's possible that your relatives are trying to tell you something, but ignore the implications when your sister hands over a 5:2 diet book, your brother presses a book of alcohol-free cocktail recipes on you and your boyfriend has carefully wrapped a self-help book about surviving a broken heart.
9 "What is it?"
If you have to ask that, the chances are it's hand-made. If somebody's put hours of their life into creating something, the least you can do is pretend you know what the hell it is. Socks with six toes, scarves that itch more than a plague of fleas, and jumpers that hang past your knees - they're all unique! Plus they make excellent dusters in the New Year.
10 "How old do you think I am?!"
One of the highlights of Christmas morning is watching a funky young teen tear the wrapping off her new foot spa, or the eight year old boy stare in confusion at his new tub of lavender talc. Age inappropriateness cuts both ways; many a Grandma has blushed as she unfolds a scarlet strappy nightdress.
Asta fled her childhood village years ago, with a secret hidden deep within her. That secret is now a feisty sixteen-year-old - Kitty - who's keen to meet her long-lost relatives. It seems there are many family mysteries waiting to be unwrapped, along with the presents under the tree...
Missing the man she left behind in London, yet drawn to a man she meets in Ireland, Asta is caught in an emotional snowstorm.
Maybe this Christmas Asta will find a cure for her long-broken heart?