CHRISTMAS OFFER Subscribe to Cotswold Life today CLICK HERE

Emma Samms: Christmas casualties

PUBLISHED: 13:42 03 December 2015 | UPDATED: 13:42 03 December 2015

I have two dogs to dress up as reindeer

I have two dogs to dress up as reindeer

Archant

Why the A&E department has become a regular fixture in my festive season

As a child, my family Christmases frequently involved the emergency services. This dubious tradition began the year we set the house on fire. It was our first log fire of the year and the cleverly designed ash-removal system in our modern house had been left open, thus sending red-hot embers down a chute onto a pile of dust sheets in the room below.

The Christmas dinner was the one meal a year that my father cooked. At the time, I thought this a superbly generous gesture and one for which my mother must have been enormously grateful. In retrospect, I see it as a galling demonstration of a skill that was withheld the rest of the year requiring my mother to do all the cooking.

So, the first fire of the season had been lit, and my father was in the kitchen busily basting the roast potatoes and really not interested in his children’s increasingly urgent reports that the fire was smoking “quite a bit”. He finally paid attention when the smell of burning house permeated the smell of his roast dinner, at which point the fire brigade was called. Their response was not what we anticipated. Apparently, and disappointingly, the emergency services receive a number of false alarms on Christmas Day, so they took some convincing. By the time they arrived my grandfather had heroically entered the burning basement and extinguished the flames himself, but the firemen reassured us that the fire was well and truly out and then very kindly cleared up the worst of the mess. My father gave them a large bottle of whisky as a thank you (it was Christmas Day, after all) and resumed his cooking.

Our next rendezvous with the emergency services was the very next year. This time it was the A and E department that we shared our Christmas with. My father was proudly carrying his perfectly cooked turkey into the dining room when the carving knife that had been balanced on the side of the platter caught on the doorway. In consideration of our more delicate readers, I won’t go into the gory details, but there was blood and an important digit in need of restoration.

All of this drama has in no way put me off Christmas. These days I relish the times when it’s my turn to host the family Christmas. I’d like to think that my house comes into its own at this time of year, with its 17th century beams and open fires and Dickensian heating and plumbing. To add to its credentials my house has the perfect spot in the hallway for a Christmas tree, a garden with a plentiful supply of holly, ivy and mistletoe, not to mention two dogs to dress up as reindeer.

The most I’ve ever cooked for was 26. It was a full complement of family plus a few friends who for various reasons didn’t have a place to go. It took a herculean effort from my Aga (my only cooking source) because, as anyone who owns an Aga knows, they have a tendency to cool down when overworked. My 1955 Aga’s last gasp of bringing the gravy to the boil took about half an hour. And who has a table which seats 26? I most certainly do not. I called into service every table in the house, including the ping-pong table.

Christmases at my house have proudly upheld the family tradition of a bit of festive drama. One year my sister managed to flood the entire kitchen floor by leaving the tap running full force in the kitchen sink when distracted by an incoming Skype call from her daughter in America. I only tell this story because she knows she is entirely forgiven. In fact anyone offering to do the washing up after a Christmas dinner can do no wrong as far as I’m concerned.

One year it was my turn to pay a visit to the Accident and Emergency Department. Let’s just say that using your bare forearm to catch a well-roasted turkey as it’s falling out of the oven is not a good idea.

I do worry that Christmas might just be a little dull without a disaster or two and that it might be difficult to remember which Christmas it was without ‘The Year of the Flood’ or ‘The Year the House Caught Fire’ as a label. But as it’s my turn to host Christmas this year, I’m hoping it’ll be ‘The Year of the Slightly Overcooked Brussels Sprouts’ or possibly ‘The Year That the Red Wine Hadn’t Been Left to Breathe Quite Long Enough’. Those are the kind of dramas I can happily cope with.

You can follow Emma on Twitter

More from Cotswold Life

10:35

“‘Flexitarians’ can do one though, being alleged vegetarians who still can’t resist the sizzling siren song of the bacon sandwich when no-one is looking.” Editor Mike Lowe is attempting to seek reconciliation with those he has annoyed… well, sort of.

Read more
Yesterday, 14:24

Choral carol services and grand instrumental performances, with the backdrop of some of the Cotswolds most picturesque locations, are perfect ways to embrace the festivities. We pick some of the best carol services and concerts to enjoy in the region

Read more
Yesterday, 11:35

“This letting to Oxford nanoSystems is a fantastic example of how we are able to provide first class facilities for growing technology companies at Abingdon Business Park.”

Read more
Yesterday, 11:28

One of the UK’s leading training and education specialists has launched a skills hub in Nuneaton

Read more
Yesterday, 11:19

“The logistics hub is another example of where we have worked in partnership to support skills needs in the area and link our student body with future job opportunities.”

Read more
Yesterday, 11:07

“It was fantastic to see how this project is making a real difference to the lives of young people at risk of social exclusion.”

Read more
Yesterday, 10:57

It has become the 90th store to accept the gift card in Cheltenham

Read more

As well as three days of action-packed racing and tradition, there’s plenty to do away from the course at this year’s November Meeting. Neil Phillips, The Wine Tipster, shares his 14 suggestions on how to make the most of your time at Cheltenham Racecourse

Read more
Wed, 15:59

From festive light switch-ons and Santa’s Grottos, to Victorian Christmas Fayres and late-night shopping, we’ve covered what’s on in and around the Cotswolds this season

Read more
Wed, 15:42

Property prices across Gloucestershire and the Cotswolds have risen steadily over the last few years, reflecting the trend across the country. But which area has shown the most dramatic hike in prices recently, and how does your postcode and house type compare with others in the area? You may be surprised to see the results...

Read more
Wed, 11:43

Wine Wednesday’s with Vintopia of Tetbury.

Read more
Wed, 10:37

Festive a la carte menu launches in Grey’s Brasserie from 26th November.

Read more
Wed, 09:31

Cotswold Life readers enjoy a complimentary glass of wine with our compliments when joining us for our Autumn Feast Lunch Offer.

Read more
Tue, 15:01

Harnessing the power of social media, charity awards and dreaming up new projects - it’s all in a day’s work for Gloucestershire children’s charity Pied Piper and its corporate supporters

Read more

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Our Privacy Policy

Topics of Interest

Food and Drink Directory A+ Education

Subscribe or buy a mag today

subscription ad


Local Business Directory

Search For a Car In Your Area

Property Search