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(A short story of 2842 words)

The Best Laid Plans


by Prue Leith

Helen is someone who takes hosting Christmas very seriously. Everything is planned to the last detail. But things don't always go the we plan them to.

“It will be fine darling, stop stressing.”

Helen knew she was driving Jake mad with her worries about Christmas. She must try not to fuss. “I’m not stressing. Honestly. It’s just that with your whole family coming… And there’s so much to do. And your mother is so good at entertaining, and cooking…” She trailed off, thinking but not adding, and so good at criticising, and knowing better, and pulling rank and making me feel small.

“Yes,” said Jake, “but she has nothing to do but worry about matching napkins and the latest fashion in hors d’oeuvres. You have a full-on job and patients to worry about.”

"It was the first time she and Jake had hosted Christmas. Usually they went to New York and had a picture-perfect festive celebration with absolutely everything working like clockwork. The decorations were always colour-themed. So far they’d had a silver and blue Christmas; a black and red one and last year candles, crackers, table decorations and napkins were all green and gold, the wine glasses rimmed with a green ivy motif under a heavy gold band and the champagne had flecks of gold leaf floating in it. Even the soap in the loo was green and shaped like a Christmas tree. It sat in a gold dish..."

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