Christmas; the time for mistletoe, wine and rocking around the Christmas tree. We all dream of a white Christmas whilst everyone gathers around the fire opening presents, laughing and joking as chestnuts pop. However, most of us don’t live in a Bing Crosby music video and Christmas is the time for alcohol fuelled family spats, sherry consuming Grandmas making entirely inappropriate comments and perpetually eating leftover turkey contorted into a variety of questionable delicacies. Certain things are inevitable and in a strange way are part of the fun of Christmas, or so we tell ourselves…
1. We eat turkey…forever.
I’m not going to lie, Christmas dinner is one of my all-time favourite meals. It’s totally acceptable to have three helpings and you’re allowed to eat the best bits without having to balance the roast potato to vegetable ratio. As long as there’s a commiserating Brussels sprout on the plate; anything goes. I’m also not going to lie when I say our turkey is always the size of a small child and it lasts for what feels like a million years. Turkey sandwiches in the evening are a lovely tradition as they are on boxing day, but when we’re still eating turkey korma on the 30th, the novelty has perhaps worn off.
2. Grandma becomes a politician.
Grandma is everyone’s most beloved person; I know mine is. Grandmas are loving, full of interesting stories and traditionally become mildly racist/homophobic/ young people-phobic after a few glasses of sherry. Some examples of the best Christmas ‘Grandma-isms’ are that our island will sink because of immigration, our generation is doomed to fail and the death penalty needs to be introduced now. On the plus side, gay people are now acceptable, ‘it’s a great idea because its less children and England’s overcrowded.’ I repeat, Grandmas are everyone’s favourite politically incorrect person!
3. Great Aunt Margaret doesn’t buy you presents anymore.
Sadly, I have some news for you young people: when you hit a certain age your distant relatives and family friends who buy you charmingly random presents, will stop. Some stop at 18, some 21, but those scarves, jewellery boxes and vouchers (to shops you don’t actually go to) will be a thing of the past. Whilst it does mean fewer thank you notes and feigned enthusiasm, it’s a bit of a bummer. Especially if you have family who haven’t yet reached the age of no return and you realise you actually miss that dodgy M and S scarf.
4. It won’t snow.
Most of the song is pretty accurate. The weather will be frightful, the fire (or fan heater, let’s keep with the times here) will be delightful, but it will not snow. It just won’t. The beauty of British weather is that it is deceptive, everywhere will be dangerously icy, there will be piles of snowy dirt on the pavements and white stuff will fall from the sky. Will we wake up to a sea of beautiful white on Christmas morn? No. Will we still attempt to make a snowman out of the sludgy ice? Quite possibly.
5. Christmas Eve will be the most stressful day of the year.
Once upon a time Christmas Eve was the second most exciting day of the year. Mince pies and brandy for Santa, a carrot for Rudolph and a cheeky pre-Christmas present before bedtime. Once I found out it was actually Dad who would bite the end off of the carrot and jolly old Santa would not be paying me a visit, it all went considerably downhill. The beds are never made up for the annual family invasion, half the presents are still under the bed (many will remain there for eternity) and the turkey is still marginally frozen… at least we still have some of Santa’s brandy.
6. You’re a third wheel…to everyone.
All single people dread family gatherings and have the recurring nightmare of Bridget Jones’ perverted Uncle asking ‘How’s the boy/girlfriend?’ Whilst I’d lie and say it’s nice to see loved up couples swapping handwritten poems and heart-shaped pendants, it’s not so lovely to have to sit at the head of the table because ‘you have no one to sit opposite’ as proclaimed throughout dinner. However, if you consider inevitability number 2, you can actually make this not only bearable, but a Christmas highlight. Top up Nan’s sherry, point out the tattoo of her granddaughter’s new boyfriend, get a mulled wine, sit back and relax, life will instantly be merry.
7. You try to recapture the magic of childhood… and fail.
Squealing in pure excitement at that Tammy Girl coat and spending the rest of the day happily playing with the Barbie Aeroplane your Dad painstakingly assembled (while you tried to play with it before the screws were in) – those were the days! I think it hits you when the biggest boxes are no longer the most exciting and when someone asks you what you want and you genuinely don’t have an answer. Whilst it can be fun to run around delivering presents singing jingle bells in an elf’s hat, it’s actually far more fun to drink mulled wine in your pyjamas whilst watching the Queens Speech; and because it’s Christmas it’s encouraged, so don’t let anyone tell you otherwise!
Although Christmas will probably never return to that magical time of sneakily staying up until midnight waiting for Santa, it has now transformed into a time when it’s socially acceptable to down your body weight in mince pies and mulled wine to get through the expected family feuds, alcohol fuelled politically incorrect debates and the 22 portions of turkey. Now who says Christmas isn’t merry?