In between you prepared all the vegetables and timed them to be ready to go with the turkey, sliced the ham, put the pudding on for its final couple of hours of steaming, made the gravy for the turkey and rum sauce to go with the pudding, bought and chilled the wine to serve with each course, made non-alcoholic punch for the kids and non-drinkers, put nibbles out on the table for the guests to munch on, set and decorated the table, arranged the glasses and stemware, set the turkey to rest, then carved it and plated it and the ham and vegetables up for the multitude at your table
Over lunch you mediated between feuding family members, delivered meals to the table, all piping hot, said grace, ate the main course, cleared up, hoping someone will at least pop the plates into the dishwasher, drained the pudding, sliced it, added the sauce and taken it to everyone at the table.
Next, you get to play Santa, distributing Christmas presents that have been placed under the tree by the assembled guests. The guests open their presents, then rush off without ceremony, to get to the next Christmas function they are obliged to attend, leaving you with a pile of dishes almost as high as mount Everest. You pack the dishwasher with as much as it will hold, twice over. There remains a line up of pots and pans that would not be out of place in a five star restaurant, where, at least they would have a sous chef and kitchen aides.
Somewhere around 10.00 pm you finally finish the dishes, then set about dismantling what remains of the Christmas table, salvage the intact paper for next year's presents and deposit torn wrapping paper into the recycling bin. Somewhere around midnight you finally get to enjoy a cup of tea, then crash into bed!
For all these reasons I have downsized Christmas to a very quiet affair!
I'm not sure the extended family are all that thrilled that I do not follow in the footsteps of my mother and "do it all", but the last time I did the hot roast turkey and pudding Christmas was for the 22 members of my extended family, including my parents, brothers, their partners, their six children and their partners, plus all their offspring, (my great neices and nephews). Not only did it take hours of preparation and cleaning up, it cost in excess of four hundred dollars. On top of that, my dad and I were still expected to buy presents for all who attended. It was the second year Christmas had fallen to my dad and I to organise and serve. My mother was pretty much bed-ridden by then, but remained at home.We did it for her. My present to each of them that year, was a copy of my mother's Christmas recipes that I set out on the computer and printed up.
From that Christmas on, they were free, to do their own thing!
By the following Christmas my mother was in a nursing home and my dad and I had our Christmas dinner with her.
I was liberated from "the burden, expense and responsibility of providing Christmas dinner" for the extended family, from that year forward, though some family members articulated an expectation of me to continue the tradition, after my mother had died
I found it somewhat ironic, that me, who was single and childless by choice, should be expected to "do it all" for the whole extended immediate family, year in, year out, as my mother did. My brothers both had partners and children with partners. Despite this, Christmas remained an event my mother hosted year in, year out, Now my brothers were accumulating grandchildren as well and my neices and nephews were grown up and old enough to shoulder responsibility for their own celebrations too.
No one put their hand up to host Christmas Dinner for the "entire family" the following year, or subsequently. It was the end of an era and the beginning of a new one for my neices and nephews and brothers. None of them had ever prepared a meal on Christmas Day. They have since!
A pot luck Christmas dinner, or organising people to bring different components of the meal is a good way to share the burden, responsibility and costs; it is wonderful when Christmas ceases to be a day of enslavement for family matriarchs and cooks!