Congratulations. You made it.
No one ever said it was going to be easy, but then nobody told us it was going to be quite as hard as this. As a decorated veteran of both Christmas and the Great North Run, let me tell you, they have an awful lot in common and it’s hard to tell which is more of a brutal slog.
If you haven’t done loads of preparation then the day itself is tough, unpleasant, sweaty and will leave you with aching joints and an irregular heartbeat.
You can’t wing Christmas any more than you can wing a half marathon. Trust me on this, I tried in 2014 and still have recurring nightmares of running up South Shields high street through three feet of porridge.
And even if you’re well prepared then there’s still loads of things that can go wrong - namely family members who you only see once a year for a reason. If you saw them twice you’d be in jail for grievous bodily harm. This column isn’t big on jokes, in fact it has been pretty much joke-free since its inception in 2006, as regular readers will attest.
But a very Christmassy one grabbed its attention recently and I’m sure, after a few days of enforced jollity in hot, cramped houses with blood relations who make your skin crawl, it’ll strike a chord. Here we go...
We’re having pigs in blankets round at our house this Christmas. Or as some people call it, relatives sleeping in the spare room.
You won’t see that cracker in, er, a cracker. You’re more likely to read it on a slew of divorce petitions in the new year under the heading “The Straw That Broke The Camel’s Back”.
When did Christmas stop being a two-week festival of rampant hedonism marked by eating like a pig and drinking like a fish and become something you had to “get through”? I’ll tell you. It was the day you got the key to your own front door and overnight became the service provider instead of the consumer. It may well have been a hoot back in the day, eating your Christmas dinner round at your mum’s still half-cut from the night before. But try cooking a roast dinner for 12 from scratch through the fog of a blinding hangover. In fact, don’t. Happy New Year.