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

Friday, December 14, 2018

The Cotswolds are abundant with picture perfect locations ideal for a ramble. Gather loved ones, wrap up warm and blow away the cobwebs with one of these winter walks in the region

Read more
Friday, December 14, 2018

Helping clients through divorce, separation and disputes over children, we talk to 8 divorce lawyers in the Cotswolds

Read more
Friday, December 14, 2018

We’ve some extraordinary, and inspiring, women in business in the Cotswolds. We talk to 7 female trailblazers in local industry who offer the business advice they’ve lived by

Read more
Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Swan Lake. We know the music, we know the iconic imagery of the beautiful ballerina dressed as a swan, but I’m guessing that without reading the libretto in the program, most people don’t know the story. Which is why the audience relies on the dancers to tell us.

Read more
Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Tom and Louise are being joined by other new academic appointments that have been made as part of the RAU’s £2.5 million initiative to help meet the future needs of the land management and agri-food sectors

Read more
Wednesday, December 12, 2018

“To win this prestigious award is a real compliment to the wider team in Renishaw’s manufacturing services operation, particularly when we consider the achievements of the other excellent shortlisted companies.”

Read more
Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Stepping up to receive the world’s first MBA Leading Business degrees at the ceremony were Sarah Bryars, Chief Executive of Target; Luke Freeman, Joint Chief Executive of MF Freeman; and Linsey Temple, Chief Executive of Gloucestershire Engineering Training

Read more
Tuesday, December 11, 2018

“I am thrilled to see InfoSec People win this fantastic award which is a testament to the brilliant team we have built in the past few years.”

Read more
Tuesday, December 11, 2018

After a stress-free shopping experience browsing designer brands this Christmas? Look no further than the luxury offerings of Mailbox in Birmingham

Read more
Tuesday, December 11, 2018

This year sees the 40th anniversary of the publication of Raymond Briggs’ original picture book The Snowman. With three performances of the animated film – with live orchestra – coming to Gloucester Cathedral next month, we thought we’d catch up with Rachel Whibley, managing director of Carrot Productions (and occasional snowman), to find out more...

Read more
Monday, December 10, 2018

It’s the season of terrible puns, magic lamps, and generous genies: Aladdin, the all-new panto at the Everyman, has been written by none other than legendary Blue Peter presenter Peter Duncan, and stars everyone’s favourite clown, Tweedy. The Barnard family from Nailsworth - mum, dad, Harriet (12) and Lewis (6) - made a Wishee (Washee) for tickets; grabbed their car (Window Twan) keys; and dashed off to see A Ladd In Cheltenham

Read more
Monday, December 10, 2018

Crispy, frosty days and perhaps even a dusting of snow, winter is a magical time in the Cotswolds. If you’re thinking of tying the knot during this beautiful season in the region, here are six winter wedding ideas to help you start planning your special day

Read more

Christmas in the Wilson household is a heartwarming, traditional family affair

Read more
Monday, December 10, 2018

Tracy Spiers takes an impressive, if hypothetical, budget on a shopping spree in Cheltenham’s independent stores

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