Now I know it’s New Year and all, but I’m hoping that every twenty-something who has endured a family drinks party thrown by their parents over the Christmas break will empathise with what I’m about to say.
Why would anyone want to put themselves, or their children, through this hell? To spend the whole afternoon frantically baking vol-au-vents, stuffing sausage meat into pastry, cutting crudités and clearing the Christmas debris from the living-room just so that it can be invaded by an army of interrogating neighbours that you barely know?
This hell was only made worse by the fact that this year, our “family” party was not attended by either of my elder sisters. One of them now has a family of her own, so perhaps that’s why she’s excused. I should hurry up and get myself with child. Nor was it attended by any of the offspring of the 30 odd “family friends” with children my age – of course, those sensible buggers stayed at home watching wonderful Christmas films by a roaring fire. So it was just me, 15 middle-aged couples and three ten-year-old girls, who immediately became best of friends and ran off into the garden to share secrets. If only I had gone with them!
I put myself to handing round a plate of nibbles, only to find myself totally stuck in conversation with the first person I offer a sausage to. And there begins the interrogation, the personality dissection, the undeniable success assessment that was to repeat itself continuously throughout the evening. “Have you finished yet?” “Er, university I presume? Yes yes, I’ve finished.” “Where are you now?” “Erm I’m here, in this room, talking to you” I think pig-headedly. But, being well brought-up and having attended several of these joyous occasions before, I of course reply politely and inform said interviewer of my vital stats. No, I haven’t got a boyfriend right now. Yes, I do have a job. Yes, it is hard being freelance.
All this is fine the first few times, but after I’ve told this to the nth person I don’t know, my throat is completely parched from sickly mulled wine, all the good vol-au-vents have gone and I’m getting rather fed up. Once the Joneses have established just how much I may or may not be suffering from the ‘Generation Y crisis’, I reciprocate by asking them a few polite questions before safely extracting myself. Finally, I look around – everyone’s in deep conversation. Screw it, I think, I didn’t ask to have this party. So I scamper off upstairs and resign myself to watching Made In Chelsea on my bed, feeling far more like the moody teenager I was ten years ago than the sociable, open-minded young adult I like to call myself today.
And therein lies the point of this post. This is what drinks parties can do to you! Beware. The cherry on the cake came later on, when everyone had finally gone home and I asked my mum if she had had a nice time. “Well,” she sighed, amidst the chaos of glasses cluttering up the kitchen, “What with all the batches of mulled wine to make and things going in and out of the oven…. you never really get to talk to people that much at these things.”
Next year I’ll be in the pub, as any normal 25 year old should be on December 28th.
Disclaimer: If you’re reading this dad, you’re mulled wine isn’t that bad. Sorry