Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 18 December 2014

Spending the holidays alone sucks

Catherine Townsend - Sleeping Around
Catherine Townsend - Sleeping Around

I discovered this week that, if the way to a man's heart is really through his stomach, then I am well and truly screwed. I knew I could be in for some drama when my friend Michael invited me to have an early Thanksgiving dinner with his Canadian relatives. The catch was that I would have to cook.

This was a momentous occasion for me, and the first time in forever that I had worn an apron for something other than French-maid role-play sex.

Breaking bread with two honeymooners and a couple with a baby also reminded me I'm single again. The Facebook group I've just joined says it all: " spending the holidays alone sucks".

As Michael's cousin Anne showed off her new diamond ring from her husband, Bradley, I was reminded yet again that I'm going to be opening packs of M& S socks from my relatives, while my loved-up friends play happy families. Still, I knew there would be a few single guys at the party, including Michael's nephew, Peter, so I wore a purposefully unbuttoned blouse and a push-up bra. Unfortunately, Bradley couldn't stop staring at my newly Nigella-esque cleavage, and his wife was getting visibly annoyed.

Things went from bad to worse when Michael's other cousin, Shirley, who has just tied the knot in India, announced that she'd become a vegan and had brought tofu turkey. "How revolting," Anne said, before turning to me. "Don't you think it's about time you settled down?" she asked. "You don't want to get left on the shelf!" I resisted the urge to tell her where she could stick her shelf and headed for the kitchen.

Michael insisted that I cook the raw bird he'd bought "in case of emergency". I had to ask Peter if he could help me stuff my turkey. This wasn't a euphemism.

We sat down to the appetisers. Bradley and Anne were arguing about Angelina Jolie's adoptions. "I'm not saying she's not a great humanitarian, I just think she needs to slow down and focus on the kids she has now," Bradley said. "That's because you're a selfish bastard," Anne shot back.

That's when I realised the beauty of being the chef: the kitchen is the perfect escape! Peter and I went to "check on the peas" and ended up taking shots from the bourbon we found.

"So, Cat, do you think that you'll ever get married?" he asked me. "Or does this kind of thing scare the hell out of you?"

"Definitely," I said. "Besides, some couples are really happy. Look at Shirley and her husband."

"Don't tell anyone, but I don't think that ceremony was legal," he said, while we laughed and made coffee for everyone. "Do you want dessert?" Peter asked me, and I kissed him.

We got so distracted while we were getting it on that we didn't notice when the oven started smoking. So we had to serve one turkey that was black.

Flying solo for the holidays, it's easy to forget that being in a relationship is no guarantee of happiness. But I'm still holding out hope of finding a fit naked Canadian under my tree.

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