There would be no decorations, nor carolling, no wassailing, no sub-mistletoe canoodling, no stuffing, no adoring of the Christ Child, no saturnalia, no potlatch.
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My parents' marriage, which for many years had resembled a gnawed upon string of gristle, had finally and greasily disintegrated.
My mother was spending the winter on the Costa Blanca, in a whitewashed house full of mice that animated her own scuttling phobias.
It was cold that winter, and scuzzy rime built up inside the tall, ill-fitting sash windows.
Even with the noxious gas fire continually twittering on in the corner my room felt exposed to the winds blowing from the Urals.
The last Christmas we had spent in my natal home, two years before, had been distinguished by my brother and I having a stand-up fist fight in the street, smiting one another until we fell into the privet – a small suburban nightmare.