Its nearly upon us, in exactly two weeks (it will be boxing day)all the presents will have been unwrapped, the turkey will be destined for sandwiches and a dry fricassee that nobody ever eats, the quality streets will have been devoured, the port drunk and you will be thinking about new year resolutions.
Its the build up to Christmas that gets me, now please don’t think that I am not a fan of the festive season. I LOVE Christmas, the whole idea makes me go warm and fuzzy inside. In my head our house will look like the one from “Home alone” (only we aren’t going away, and hopefully won’t loose any kids). The turkey will be as good as Nigellas, the pudding rivaling anything that Mary Berry could create and mistletoe adorning every door frame where the husband and I will have the time and energy to rekindle a bit of romance that sometimes disappears after twenty six years of marriage. We will have a roaring fire (remember this is in my head, I know we don’t have an actual fireplace) roast chestnuts and watch movies while wearing festive knits and sipping eggnog (the eggnog is crucial in my dream, even though I’ve never had it).
The build up allows you to buy into my fantasy, Christmas music playing in all the shops, lights adorning everything, baubles dangling and sleigh bells jingling. Whats not to love? I actually found myself hankering after a knitted elf dress(complete with pompoms and flashing sleeves) the other day. Team it with stripey tights and….. O.K a step too far I know, fear not,I didn’t buy it. You actually believe your family will all get on, it will be peace and goodwill to all men (humor me the carol doesn’t say women). I also want you to admit it, a part of you expects a knock on the door where a couple of small people dressed in blue and brown hessian sacks with tea towels on their heads (and a donkey) are asking for shelter and if you have a spare manger. Yup its merry alright.
However, and without turning into the Grinch, the reason this is a fantasy is because and I hate to admit this, life isn’t a Hollywood movie, in my experience its more of an Eastenders “I’m your mum, get out my pub” kind of time. Lets be honest even Nigella has had her fair share of problems and she’s perfect. I put it down to the pressure to be happy, have fun, play board games, cook enough food to feed the five thousand and spend at least four days solid with your family while doing all of the above. Something has to give. Not only that then add presents into the mix throw in stockings, and that’s a whole extra layer of stress. I like to think I am quite organised when it comes to the pressie buying, however its not how to buy its what to buy. Hands up who wanders round the isles looking at rows and rows of festive gifts thinking “Oh yes that’s great I shall buy six of those” when at any other time of the year you would think, “A giant sherry glass filled with chocolates in the shape of pugs, how ridiculous, who would want one of those?”. They are the kind of things you give to people your not that keen on normally, not your sister. We suddenly get obsessed with slippers, pajamas and socks. Even electric toothbrushes, (did you know that there are more electric toothbrushes sold at Christmas than any other time of the year?). What is it with us in December, it’s as though subliminally we realise its so bloody cold we will need cozy nightwear,we will eat copious amount of chocolate, drink tons of sherry out of giant glasses, then need to brush our teeth extra carefully to compensate for the sugar hit, while lounging around in our socks and slippers! Who says it doesn’t pay to be practical! It’s also the Christmas list, who invented that idea? The shops is the answer, Santa doesn’t need a list that’s the point of him, hes magic, he knows if your naughty or nice, he watches you all year round according to Chrimbo folk lore. If he’s that bloody good what does he need a list for?. I blame commercialism.talking lists, one of my kids wanted an £180.00 pair of trainers while the other wanted a skipping rope,try evening that out, perhaps I could buy him two!
Its not only the presents, it’s the food.I live in North London, Tesco is a 2 minute walk from our house, Waitrose 5,we have a corner shop and it takes 20 minutes on the bus to get to the West End. Yet when it comes to the Festive food shop I buy as though I will never see a shop or get near a computer again. Come to ours in December and we have a greater selection of cheese than la Fromagerie, our cold cuts of meats rival the meat counter at any deli, we have enough chocolate to open up a choclatiere, enough vedge to give Greg Wallace a run for his money and enough drink to open up a new branch of unwins (remember them). That’s not mentioning the nuts, dried fruit, crackers (for all that cheese) and the pate’s the( flavors of which you would never dream of trying in a normal month.) The normal me know’s Christmas is technically one day, the normal me understand’s that its just a roast with sausages (again when do you ever serve a sausage on the side at any other time of year?) and a bit of cranberry sauce yet it doesn’t stop the festive me from buying food as though rationing is going to start in the next week and I need to stock up for the next twenty five years. What happens to me? Why do I suddenly need six different liquors, eight different wines and advocaat (just in case you fancy a snowball). I even bought babycham once “just in case” I heard myself say. Now I think in case of what? At what point in your life have you ever needed babycham in an emergency? If you have I would love to know why! Similarly if the whole family are round for a roast I manage with two chickens, come the twenty fifth of December and the turkey has to be of epic proportions. I have no idea why, it just does and, if it takes nine weeks to cook in the bottom of the oven of the aga then that’s even better. Why do we think we need to cook something for so long just cos it’s the yule tide season?See its a funny old time Christmas.For example when did you last buy tinned chestnut puree? Christmas I hear you say. All rules go out the window at this time of year, we buy random things and lots of them all in the name of “eat, drink and be merry”. It does it to us all, I hope so anyway cos if its just me perhaps I need professional help.
I haven’t even touched on the variety of condiments, the different breads or the tree that is way to big for the house, let alone the inevitable family arguments, fresh cranberries and dried figs. But I feel I have rambled for long enough, plus I’ve just remembered I’ve forgotten to order the goose, the pork loin and the rib of beef (just in case). Maybe Mary and Joseph will pop buy after all, you have to be prepared for all eventualities and I have no idea what they would eat. I also need to go and buy a flashing brandy glass that sings simply the best when you pour anything into it (from the kids) I’m sure the husband will love it after all it’s christmas.