There are so many things that I love about the holidays. From Halloween to the day after New Year's, there are amazing things like trees turning autumn colors, turkey and stuffing, Christmas carols, mulled wine and trees with twinkling lights. I love buying presents for people that I know they will like. I love the feeling of sitting at Heathrow anticipating my trip home to New York, secure in the knowledge that my dad will be making me nice meals and I can eat as many pizza slices at New York delis as I want.
But how are the holidays really? Are they as sparkling, glittery and as filled with glee as I always anticipate?
This year the sewer line in my Grandmother's house backed up and all 11 members of my dad's side of the family had to decamp to my parents' house. We were not at all prepared – in fact, the two 'guest' rooms only have single beds in them. But with the help of air mattresses and cots, we all piled in and made do. My brother and I slept in my parents' room with them (with me in the walk-in closet) and my dad just happened to have a ham in the fridge that we ate for Christmas dinner.
And it was all going so well until my brother's dog ate an entire bar of dark chocolate and had to be rushed to the pet emergency room so vomiting could be induced.
It was certainly not a perfect Christmas. Although it was certainly memorable.
No matter how good your life is, no matter how many things you have to celebrate, I always think of the holidays as a time to imagine that other people must be having a better time – a more perfect family and of course a more perfect holiday celebration.
So I have decided to create my own new Christmas tradition – Christmas as a reminder to celebrate the chaos of life. The fact that life – and in particular family – can never be perfect. That sewer lines will back up and dogs will eat toxic substances just because they taste so good. But I often need a reminder that beauty doesn't equal order or perfection.
I have a lot of good memories of this Christmas in New York – there certainly was a lot of laughter. And I'm pretty sure the Hub is glad he arrived after Christmas day – otherwise he would have been sleeping in the closet with me. I'm still in New York, by the way, and it's bloody cold (-5 degrees celcius). And it's making me really appreciate England at the moment.