Jingling all the way

AS promised, tra la la la LAAAAAAA, here is my Christmassy blog offering. An festive array of Thought Baubles if you will…

Background: My first glimpse of impending Christmas doom happened around mid-November when I found myself watching the John Lewis advert in Dubai, sitting in a ball of sweat. The sun was beating down so hard onto my head I could barely see the screen. I could make out a little girl in twinkly little England, sending a telescope to a lonely old man living on the moon – it literally made zero sense. Nobody had mentioned Christmas yet! Coming back to the UK was like stepping in to another world – it was All Systems GO for Christmas!  And what do you mean we have to pay for BAGS now in shops?? I was only gone three weeks….!!

I have been thinking a lot about my festive struggles and collecting stories from friends along the way. Here’s my findings:

I think a lot of the problem was too much ‘have to’. Xmas is like a big bossy aunty – you should do this and you ought to do that, and you have to eat this. No, Aunty Christmas, I’m in charge and I am choosing for myself from now on thanks! If you leave me alone I’ll be like Scrooge after his conversion. “… It was always said of him that he knew how to keep Christmas well..” Maybe the way one ‘keeps Christmas’ says a lot about that person. Or maybe I’ve had too much ginger wine and I’m overthinking it. Anyway here’s what I’ve decided:

First things first. Bread sauce is OUT. Who conceived such an evil plan as bread sauce? Bread is made for toasting, buttering and slathering with marmite: the end. WHO thought of pureeing it, boiling it in milk, with nutmeg and leaves? Gah, it makes me gag just thinking about it – I knew as soon as I saw it as a child. “That is WRONG”, I thought. And then the adults dolloped it on to … MEAT?? I know I will enrage die-hard bread sauce fans with my opinions so I have checked the recipe. As soon as Delia said to stir it on the hob “..until the crumbs have swollen”,  bleugh…. I couldn’t read on. NO to bread sauce.

YES to pigs in blankets though. The joy of meat wrapped up in another sort of meat: genius. And Cliff Richard, singing about children singing churrristian rhyme – swaying his arms around like he’s going to topple over off the cliff. Oh, and Pepsi and Shirley in their big hair and big coats swaying around to ‘Last Christmas’… YES to a lot of that. YES to mimicking Band Aid’s clasping of their oversized headphones. YES to embracing the ridiculous – if not at Christmas, then when??

YES to making things but NO to making everything. Nobody needs to make mincemeat, pastry, homemade gifts, handmade table placement cards, chutneys AND puddings! This year I made one thing – a stocking for the husband, a momento of our Weird Christmas. It’s made with a charity shop jumper, a button scrounged from my mum and a ribbon. It’s filled with love and fresh air, yet the recipient is quite underwhelmed by it. At least I didn’t spend much and if I die he’ll feel bad whenever he looks at it.

Christmastime does tend to bring out the craftiness in us, and I say YES to that. Donna (whose charity I mentioned last time) used to get up in the night when she was a teenager, and get busy with sheets and sheets of plastic, rolls of tin foil plus spray paint. When her parents came down in the morning they found themselves transported to a makeshift Narnian landscape in the lounge!! Love that!

NO to trawling around looking for things to buy for people who don’t need or want anything. My fave presents are accompanied with, “I saw this and thought of you”. My German friend Fiver says she likes to buy presents whenever she fancies, and resents doing it just because it’s Christmas. She also told me that in Germany they have their big meal on Xmas Eve – the next day is just chilling out and opening presents – how sensible is that??  One year they had an enormous trout living in the bath for the week before Christmas, then her grandma bopped it on the head and it became Christmas Eve dinner. It was so big they had to fold it up at either end in the oven! Anyway NO to spending most of the day in the kitchen at the same time as trying to spend most of the day opening presents, playing games and having special time with your favourites.

My hairdresser (Frankie, the best hair dresser on Earth, and I’ll arm wrestle anyone who disagrees) is Italian. She said the same thing – Christmas Eve for the big meal. I asked her what she thought of English Xmas lunch and she pointed out here’s too many bits to bring together at the same time (ditch the bread sauce mate!) Her conclusion was that “By the time you serve up you’re too full of smell”!! I laughed and laughed but I know what she means – you’ve gone ‘past it’.  In her region the star of the Christmas table is lasagne. (What, like a jar of red sauce on some mince, layered with a jar of white sauce then some dried pasta??) Frankie was nearly choking.. noooo, it is a work of art: exquisite mini meatballs, special salami, hard boiled eggs, and by the way even the white sauce takes 4 hours to cook because it is infused with a certain type of sausage! Wow – and it all gets prepped the previous day. ‘Cosi sensibile, si?’

NO to sprouts. NO to soap opera disasters. But massive YES to ginger wine! YES to fairy lights, but I’ve got a way to go before I embrace them as much as this Worthingite:

And it goes without saying that it’s YES to all things Jesus. One of my fave carols says,

“What can I give Him,
Poor as I am?
If I were a shepherd
I would bring a lamb;
If I were a wise man
I would do my part;
Yet what I can, I give Him –
Give my heart.”

And therein lies the secret to transcending all the horribleness of the earth, to experience joy, whether it’s Christmas day, or any old day. I really hope that you, dear reader, have a truly joyful Christmas. xx

PS. If bread sauce is so great, then why do we only have it once a year?