“Ah Christmas!” as a wise man once said. “It’s the most wonderful time of the year.” And he really wasn’t exaggerating. It rules. Yes, yes, sure, it’s a magical time to spend with your family. But it also spreads joy in a much more pleasing way: you can blame anything on Christmas.
Don’t want to do any work? It’s Christmas! Want to go to the pub before lunch and get on it (pandemics allowing)? It’s Christmas! Want to eat your own body weight in cheese? Come one, come all: it’s Christmas! A time of pure indulgence and decadence; for parading around shops like you’re Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman on Rodeo Drive — though you’re probably drunk and probably not a hooker. But who knows and who cares — it’s Christmas!
Once that 1 November alarm goes off (pandemic lockdowns permitting), I’m in full-on Mariah-at-Christmas mode: thinking of presents, planning parties, watching a bit of old Nigella Christmas Special to look at cakes I’ll probably never make and trying to force some antlers on the dogs. They will never let me, the heathens.
"There is nothing Jesus Christ himself would want to honour his arrival on this planet than everyone on the all-day sesh"
I remember asking my parents as a kid: “Are you excited for Christmas?” And they’d be like, “Oh, you don’t get excited about it when you’re older.” I’m sorry, but what are you actually talking about? I’m getting more and more excited about it with every year that passes. As a kid it felt like a few days, but as an adult you can stretch it into a five-week extravaganza of cocktails, catch-ups, canapés and late nights out on the town all in honour of the birth of Jesus Christ. And there is nothing Jesus Christ himself would want to honour his arrival on this planet than everyone on the all-day sesh.
The festive period really incorporates all of my favourite things: people, parties, excessive quantities of food, drinking, shopping and mooching. It also tends to incorporate arguing, which, if I’m honest, I can also quite enjoy. My main catalyst for a row around this time of year is sparked by one of two things: being too hot in a shop and feeling trapped in a puff jacket, or hearing Slade blasting out of a speaker for the 789th time. Both of these cause such catastrophic levels of rage that they threaten to potentially overturn the entire festive feeling I’ve been cultivating thus far. I can be happily singing along to the previous 788 plays. But all of a sudden something happens and I cannot deal with this song any longer. Mariah Carey is the only exception to this rule — a classic that really should be enjoyed the whole year round.
One thing I’ve never done is host a Christmas Day at mine. I always (again, pandemics permitting) return home to mum’s for what I consider to be the meal of the year — 10/10 from me, mother. I have hosted my fair share of pre-Christmas parties, though. The keys to a great party are to make people feel so welcome that they never want to leave, to not put an end time on the invite and to make sure there is enough booze and snacks for all. Sound advice, I thought. A couple of years ago I took this too far, and the initial “7pm cocktails” evolved into a 6.50am finish as I begged my mother and pals to call it a night. “It’s still dark, though!” they cried. Well, yes — but that’s because it’s December.
I also decided to make a cheese installation. It’s a time for excess, after all, so I created a table that King Henry VIII would be proud of. There was enough cheese and wine to give a French man gout. It looked incredible but I forgot one crucial thing: cheese stinks. The entire party had a heavy scent of old milk — not very festive at all. And it smelt a whole lot worse when I woke up the next day and the hacked remains of a Camembert were melting into my worktops.
Last year I suggested to the boyfriend we do something a whole lot more wholesome: add a finish time to the invite, provide only smell-free food and don’t allow smoking in the house. But it just feels too horrible to put a restriction on such a joyous time of year. You have to commit or you go full Scrooge.
Then comes the big day, which can sometimes feel somewhat anticlimactic, and I think that’s usually my own fault. By the time the 25th rolls around, I’ve used up all my festive serotonin in the five weeks prior. I go too hard too soon!
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