Opinion: Mother in law charging for Christmas dinner? What a Scrooge! ?

Liz Nice says the mother in law charging for Christmas dinner has a precedessor - Scrooge

Liz Nice says the mother in law charging for Christmas dinner has a precedessor - Scrooge - Credit: Archant

Charging for Christmas dinner is outrageous, says Liz Nice. But some EDP staff can see the attraction

Well, my mother isn't happy again after I revealed in my Saturday column that she has suggested we don't bother with Christmas presents this year.

'You made me sound like a right Scrooge,' she said.

'Not at all, it's very on trend and environmental of you,' I replied. 'We shouldn't be buying loads of crap we don't need.'

Actually, I didn't say that because I'm hoping for a new coat but I know this is her motivation.

Mum feels bad about the fact that she has everything she requires to live (which age has taught her isn't very much really) and feels strongly about waste.

This is why we were made to eat everything on our plates – or no dessert. She's a baby boomer brought up on 'waste not, want not'. It's ingrained.

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Mum is not mean though. I remember the pricey boys' racing bike I longed for one Christmas. It had to be a boys' one with a crossbar – none of that namby-pampy girly stuff for me. Mum said if a boys' bike was good enough for my brother, it was good enough for me, which may have been a seminal moment. Gifts can have lessons – so why not teach me another one this year, Mum? As you know, I'm always keen to learn.

But the issue of Christmas and money is an interesting one, particularly this week as the papers were all over a story on Mumsnet about a mother in law who was charging £17 a head for Christmas dinner.

Admittedly Christmas dinner is pricey but come on! That's trouser-splittingly tight, surely?

We've had interesting discussions about this in the office.

'It's disgusting,' said Amber. 'You shouldn't charge family.'

'I'd pay,' said Emily. 'As long as I can sit there doing nothing all day while someone else does the work, it's worth every penny.'

Meanwhile, Louisa's eyes lit up at the thought of a nice little earner. 'If I charge the family £50 a head, I can have a holiday,' she said.

I could write lots of words here about the spirit of Christmas being lost but in many ways that happened years ago.

It certainly happens for me every time I hear people (and I don't just mean children) saying, 'I want this and I want that' and being disappointed when they don't get.

When they are disappointed that people haven't spent as much on them as they think they should.

When people put their presents down with barely a glance and look around for the next one…

When I was a child, we all used to wait until each person had opened their gift and we all made a big thing over each one.

That doesn't happen now as there are so many presents to get through; we would be there all week.

Maybe it should happen though.

Maybe Mum is right.

I certainly know she won't be charging me for Christmas lunch, just as she has never charged me for anything my whole life, whether it's lunch, or a coffee, or something I ask her to get for me, but she won't hear of me reimbursing her for.

That's love, isn't it?

And whoever said Christmas was about that?

The things we say

I was amused to see reports from a website called 9gag about the things people send each other on email that don't really mean what they say.

I have long felt this.

As we all know, 'hope this helps' means, 'it had better, because I don't want you to contact me again'.

'Does this make sense?' means 'it probably doesn't because I consider you to be an idiot'.

'We're all grown ups,' means 'well, I am but clearly you aren't.'

And anyone who emails you, 'just checking in' is never going to be someone you actually want to hear from because if you wanted to talk to them, you would have.

Still, we all carry on this way in real life too.

Never quite saying what we mean or meaning what we say.

Personally, I have always followed the words of Emily Dickinson: 'Saying nothing sometimes says the most.'