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‘Tis the season for emergency sprouts

Deck the Halls and all that, but I am already an emotional wreck, lurching from the depths of Omicron-induced trepidation to the heights of newly satisfied consumerism.

In the past 24 hours, I have heard of more people who have tested positive, within the two-to-three degrees of separation required to instil alarm, than I have heard in any whole month of this wretched pandemic to date. The tsunami or tidal-wave (take your pick, depending on which side of the border you are sitting at the time) of Covid cases arriving by Christmas is now almost inevitable, and my mind is racing with all the possible consequences that could bring for everyone, but more particularly for me and my anticipated Christmas guests.

We host the family Christmas every year, and this time are only expecting our two offspring and one of Mr J’s brothers (the other brother being persona non grata due to his living in the USA with his young daughter – who in fact tested positive last week and missed her ballet performance, just to add to the sob-story). So, it is not a huge event and there is no problem at all to scale up or down a little as needed. But it’s the uncertainty that gets me – and, worse, the possible need to make decisions and judgments about what we should or should not be doing. Last year was disastrous on that front and I am not yet fully recovered – I could quite easily do an Allegra on the pavement if provoked.

As a result of my mounting concern, I took myself to the supermarket this morning and did a second ginormous shop (the first being last week where I bought all the Christmas non-perishables and anything too heavy or large to lug home in my backpack). The idea today was to avoid the busiest times at Sainsburys next week – so minimising as much infection risk as possible – and to buy as much as reasonably possible in case we end up grounded in the next couple of weeks. 

So determined was I to be prepared, I have purchased for the first time in my life, an emergency pack of frozen sprouts. Although no-one particularly likes sprouts in this household, and the sprout-hater we love to bait with them will be safely over the pond this time, I could not contemplate being without them on 25th. Or indeed on 26th when it is mandatory to make bubble and squeak with the (deliberately) left-overs. So I can rest easy that the last few cubic inches of space in my freezer are now occupied by Sainsburys finest baby sprouts.

Of course, I have had to hide the more attractive of the festive fare in a number of dusty and well-concealed corners of the house lest it be pre-emptively consumed by a foraging Mr J. My own biggest challenge will most likely be remembering what and where it all is. No doubt there will be takers amongst my friends when I unearth yet another box of biscuits in February?

I believe we are now prepared. I hope so, because I have spent all of the December food budget now, with little more than pennies remaining for fresh fruit and veg next week if allowed.

This exercise has cheered me up immensely. Whilst I hate most types of shopping, I love a good supermarket session and I also take great pleasure in stocking up the cupboards to the brim, provided I am sure we will be able to consume it all without waste. So far, I am confident that is the case. A small dance around the kitchen has therefore been deemed appropriate.

So, apart from a few walks to pick up parcels which are being delivered to local shops, and Mr J’s annual motorcycle foray to pick up the turkey, we can now batten down the hatches and hope for the best in the full and certain knowledge that we (and indeed the cat) will not starve this Christmas even if confined to quarters.

Now I can focus on washing all the bedding, tidying my office which is also my son’s bedroom, marzipanning then icing the cake, making mince pies, wrapping presents (when I’ve located them all), decanting the raspberry gin, making detailed lists (several times because I’ll mislay them), vacuuming, ringing my aunts, dusting, etc etc – and generally being the domestic goddess I always knew I could be.

Unless I’m in bed with Covid, in which case someone else can do all those things.

Or not.

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