Christmas ended on a poignant note. I travelled up to North-of-London for my sister's 40th birthday party on Sunday, and crashed at my Mum's until finally traipsing back to my shitty flat last night.
I had spent that time in near-Watford sitting in front of a large TV while my Mum played online poker in one room and my Stepdad watched football in another. I could have talked to them both during those four days but, well, the opportunity never arose. Because my Mum has MS, she doesn't sleep very well at night and frequently doses off during the day like a narcoleptic crackhead. My Stepdad meanwhile is embracing deafness like an old friend, content to walk about in blissful silence until either myself or my Mum yells at him for the fifth time to ask if he'd like a cup of tea.
And under those circumstances, I should be more forgiving as to what happened on my last night with my family, but I can't. I was livid.
The three of us had gone to my Sister's house on Boxing day for our now traditional orgy of food. I quite enjoy it as it's the longest time I get to spend with my nieces, and get to pretend that we're a close family. I offloaded my last presents at the girls and my sibling, gave my brother-in-law a book which was quickly flung into some dark cupboard never to be seen again, and received a small voucher in return - a voucher, the gift that says 'I don't really know you very well after all'.
We stayed for a good eight hours, eating too much, playing Wii and generally feeling bloated and useless. When the time came for us to leave, I assembled the ramps for my Mum so she could exit the house in her wheelchair, and prepared my Stepdad's people-carrier, custom designed with a disabled ramp, fixing my Mum's chair to the car with special fasteners. I was still attaching the chair home when my Stepdad pressed the button to raise the ramp and close the car door on me.
'Hey!' I yelled. 'I haven't said goodbye to the girls yet!'
My Stepdad didn't say anything as he couldn't - or wouldn't - hear me.
'Nip out the other door,' my Mum said, 'and go back and say goodbye.'
Dutifully, I did as I was told, exiting the car and heading back to the house.
'What's the matter?' said my brother-in-law, panicking as he stood by the front door. 'What's going on?'
If I was being unkind, I could suggest that perhaps he thought he'd seen the last of me for another year.
'I haven't said goodbye to everyone yet,' I growled.
'Mng,' he replied half-heartedly.
I went back inside, I hugged the girls, I wished my brother-in-law's parents the best and passionlessly hugged my sister as if she was a lamppost I'd been dared into cuddling. The whole process took about one minute, and I walked back outside.
So imagine my curiosity as I walked, bloated and tired, the ten feet towards the car as it slowly pulled out into the main road.
'Must be eager to leave,' I mused.
I took a few more listless steps towards it, and the car suddenly took off.
I paused, a look of disbelief on my face. Then I broke into a painful run and yelled 'Oi!' as the car continued to the end of the road, turned left, and disappeared from view.
'Fucking idiots!' I snapped out loud as I took my phone from my pocket. I called each of them in turn but, like most people in their sixties and seventies who own a mobile, they keep them permanently switched off.
So I stood there in the chill, reasoning that they'd be back in a matter of seconds once one of them spoke to me and got no reply.
Grudgingly, I walked back to my sister's house, where everyone found it roaringly hysterical. My brother-in-law seemed particularly amused. Truth be told, I've never seen him so happy.
So I waited a bit longer. By now, I was fuming. Each passing minute was another 60 seconds in that car that they clearly weren't even talking to me. Surely they're not going to drive all the way home and realise that I'm not there? Surely I'm not so fucking unimportant and easily missed that they'll stop the engine, get out, and see an empty seat?
So forgive me if I take this personally, but you can keep the Family Christmas. Next year, I'm staying at home. Fuck it.