Christmas comes but once a year.
Christmas used to be so simple. In some respects it still is, and as soon as we reach December I begin to look forward to the upcoming festivities. I am always excited at the thought of someone pulling my cracker and wondrous things in stockings, and once the advent candle is burning I am ready with my nuts for some festive fireside fun.
They used to say… ‘Christmas comes but once a year’.
It doesn’t anymore.
There was a time, just like the song by Wizard, when I did, “Wish it could be Christmas every day”, but now I am quite content with it once a year. However, if the marketing and retail sector get their way, surely it won’t be long until we change it to six monthly.
Within normal family structure there are numerous branches of relatives with whom to celebrate, but with modern extended family structure being the norm there are now even more bits of the family to spend time with.
If two Christmases a year sounds a bit much, this would actually be a reduction for me. I have had two Christmas days this year already, and we are still only at Christmas Eve. I have two more to come yet. With family and step family to celebrate with, the single family festive feast and get-together is now broken into a succession of gatherings with a different cast list at each.
First in the calendar this year was our Swedish Christmas, a traditional and peaceful get together, albeit interspersed with flashes of my nephew as he ran around the house like an excited loon. Much to some peoples disappointment a Swedish Christmas does not include either a sauna or Abba karaoke, but it does feature a delightful lunch of meats and seafood. One of my favourites is the Jansson’s Temptation, a wonderful baked dish of potatoes, onions and anchovies. This alone proves that there is a lot to be said for looking beyond your own traditions and experiencing other peoples.
Yesterday was Christmas number two. This was more of a traditional English day at Mum’s, and to make things simple we all brought food and created a lunch buffet. This, too, was a peaceful and relaxing affair, albeit interspersed with flashes of my nephew as he ran around the house like an excited loon.
Now, we race headlong to Christmas number three. What can we expect from the big day itself?
Well, the ‘Old Tom & Dick’ (the first home-brew that my stepson and I have attempted) should be ready tomorrow so we are hoping for many festive cheers. I had considered running brewery tours, but it is a barrel in the corner of the kitchen, so I am not sure I can make it last as long as the ones I have been on in the past.
I have always found Christmas day to be quite a creature of habit and if my experiences are anything to go by, I dare say many of you will encounter something like this.
The day begins by being woken at the crack of dawn by the kids, eyes bright with excitement and big beaming smiles, as they come home from the pub. Then, there are the party games to look forward to. This takes the form of the in-laws coming for dinner, and twelve people sitting around a four seater table, all wearing silly paper hats and jostling for somewhere to put their elbows. It is usually not so much Christmas dinner as a variation on Twister with a bit of WWF wrestling thrown in.
After lunch there is the ritual of trying to find somewhere comfy to sit for the afternoon, but once The Queen’s speech is over, the mayhem subsides and it is time for the entire nation to have a well deserved nap.
Peace at last, albeit interspersed with flashes of my nephew as he runs around the house like an excited loon.
Whether you are planning one massive festive bash or visiting everyone you know one at a time, the important thing is that Christmas is a time for remembering and sharing.
So for now, let the merrymaking commence. Tomorrow, I shall raise a glass of Old Tom & Dick to you all.
Finally, in something like the words of Tiny Tim Cratchit, from the Dickens masterpiece…
“God help us, everyone”.