“I think I need to explore those more” I say of the Cadbury DarkMilk ice creams, “it’s for science.”

I’m the same about new biscuits, desserts and just about any sweet new thing, really.

“It’s for science.”

Matt knows my ‘it’s for science’ excuse by now, and so when I say “it’s for science” then he just laughs, followed up by a wholehearted “for science. Sure, of course”. He doesn’t believe me, though unless my latest venture is really crazy, he doesn’t stop me either.

“It’s for science” started way back along, and with something not nearly so PG. I met a genleman on the social app Whisper and we’d been messaging back and forth for several weeks. We had a something ‘more’ going on but I think when he realised that his choices were either being honest with his wife or hurting me, he decided to do what felt most comfortable and ghosted me instead. It’s a shame when that happens, though I don’t hold any ill feelings towards him. He was always more than pleasant when we spoke.

I wouldn’t have him back though, not because he wasn’t nice but because I deserve to be more than just someone’s guilty secret.

Still, the running joke for us was that if we ever actually did meet for relations then whatever happened was “for science”. No relationship, purely just two scientists doing science stuff.

But once “it’s for science” became my get-out-of-jail-free card, it kinda stuck.

That really expensive perfume on my laptop screen? Oh no! I wasn’t going to buy it silly, I was just researching it for scientific purposes.

That new restaurant I suggested we order takeout from? No pressure, it’s just for science. If you want in on this research though, there’s totally pressure there.

I am, of course, also aware of how “it’s for science” could be used me, though for the most part then I try not to think of that. It’s possible, sure, but that doesn’t mean to say that it’s probable, right? Right?

“I think I need to test out my festive layered cheesecake concept before I try and pull them off on the night” I say of my mulled wine jelly-sherry mousse -gingerbread crumb puds. I think it has the potential to work, but there is nothing worse than trying it for the first time on the night and then discovering that your flavours clash. As something of a perfectionist when it comes to hosting dinner parties then for me there would little worse to end my night than a dessert disaster.

“For science?” Matt grins at me.

“… Boozy science?” I shrug. He laughs.

That I’ve also sketched out my pudding concept in true Great British Bake-Off style? Like I say so many times – 6 P’s.

This last week I discovered that I have a new favourite smell – Sudacrem. Sudacrem is not like it used to be when I was young, it’s much firmer now, milder smelling and with a distinctive scent of lavender. I’ve got boils coming up all over the place – a common problem for me when I’m under stress – so I’ve been slathering them in my go-to antiseptic cream. I thought I had a tub, but it seemed not, so I bought some more. What struck me at first though was the new consistency, followed by the smell.

Oh, the smell. More than just my boils, my whole body felt relaxed. I felt comforted, cared for, soothed. By morning, the worst offender looked visibly less angry. Two days after twice-daily treatment and it looks like little more than a patch of slightly pink rough skin. I feel relieved, mostly because the last time I had a boil then my mother suggested it might be a diabetic sore, so I’ve wanted my skin to look on form in time for Christmas Eve. There is diabetes in my family, on my mother’s side, amd it is something that I am aware of. Still though I eat and drink sensibly, move regularly and don’t let the risk keep me from enjoying my life.

I still remember that time she chewed me out for eating a fun-sized bag of Maltesers in one sitting, though,

“You do realise there is diabetes in our family? Do you want to have to check your blood everyday, with a needle? You could lose your foot or your leg, or worse, you could die from it, Helen. Your great grandmother and your grandmother had it, but it could just as easily skip a generation and come up again in you.”

I tried to maintain my composure at the time, but it’s a memory that I don’t forget whenever I see her with her hand in a sharing bag of crisps while she casually reads a book. Portion control only matters sometimes, it would seem.

I think I am healing up quite nicely now, though much of that comes from a pragmatic, “the show much go on” atttitude. I think, then realising my strength now I am able to love myself so much more, to accept me and forgive me for not being perfect. I do bits and forgive myself if I don’t do it all now instead of wearing myself into the groundlike I used to. I’m making more time for relaxation, too.

And sleep, so much sleep. I didn’t realise how exhausted I really was.

Christmas is slowly coming together around here, and this weekend the tree goes up. It’s not a huge one, about two or three feet I think, it sits beside the fire each year. I think I take after my grandmother there, I prefer to keep my decorations simple and my company plentiful. For me it’s about the people who attend and the games played, not the gifts given or the decorations thast hang on the walls.

Games though, games were proving to be the problem. We played What Do You Meme? for my birthday dinner, and Cards Against Humanity for my birthday dinner before that, but I wanted to mix it up a bit with some more party-style silly games. Pass the parcel with forfeits? A wicked smile plays across my lips.

I decide that pass the parcel might be a bit kiddish, but it’s in Matt watching Alex Horne’s Taskmaster that I get inspired. Taskmaster! That’s just it! We’ll have some silly festive tasks.

So far I have:-

  • Tie a bow on the gift without using your hands. First to complete the task wins the point.
  • Shocking Stockings – Guests will team up and have two minutes to put 100 items inside a rather small Christmas stocking. If they manage it, they win an point each. Double for creative solutions.
  • Empty Santa’s sack – For this game there will be a bundle of boxes with string loops and points written on the inside/bottom of each one. Guests will have a minute each to use an inflatable candy cane to fish for gifts, hook-a-duck style. The guest with the most points, wins.
  • Naughty or Nice? 30 partially inflated balloons, five contain a slip of paper that reads “NAUGHTY”. Guests take it in turns to throw a dart and pop a balloon. They are disqualified from the game if they pop a “NAUGHTY” balloon. The last player left in the game, wins (I am rethinking this game slightly though, for my neighbours’ sake!)
  • Elf In A Shelf – 12 “elfs”, 11 elves hidden around the home and a card on a shelf that simply reads “SHELF”. How many “elfs” will our guests find? The guest who finds the most “elfs”, wins.

Now, these games are my creativity alone and so that puts me in the perfect spot to play Taskmaster. Also, then given that one team of two is my blood relations and the other is my marital family, taking a neutral position devoids me of any accusations of foul play, since I could arguably favour both teams.

For Matt, though, that turns him into ‘Little Alex Horne’.

“That’s right, yes” I say in a tone that one would typically expect from TaskMaster‘s Greg Davies.

“I don’t want to be Little Alex Horne though!” he says in a not-entirely-fake tantrum.

“Oh, no, you’re not Little Alex Horne. Don’t be so daft, Little Alex Horne gets paid” I grin, trying as best as I possibly can to maintain my composure. Matt shoots me a look but it doesn’t stop me.

“You’ll be more… more of my assistant, my minion, my naughty little Chrtistmas elf” I laugh. I don’t care anymore, this shit is hilarious.

“I’m warning you!” he laughs.

“And I’m warning you. Any more of that and I won’t suck on your candy cane this year, you’ll find coal in your stocking instead” I giggle. I think my poor husband is abount to combust.

Oh yes, Christmas promises to be fun this year.

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