I heart Christmas: the lights, smells, food, drink, friends, family & films – what’s not to love? So I thought I’d write a blog on the very things that make Christmas great, those special elements that elevate it from being just another dull Christian ritual into the cheering festival of excess we’ve all come to love & expect. Ready?
Who doesn’t love a present? I live for those moments when you tear open the paper and it’s actually WHAT YOU WANTED. It’s happened to me twice: once with a make-up set when I was 14 (what can I say, I was experimenting); and once with a banana holder a couple of years back. I carry a lot of bananas. But I still recall that Christmas (aged 8) when all I asked for was a Now That’s What I Call Music album and all I got was a doll. Epic fail.
It’s Christmas which means two things: Jesus is born and he would want you to eat chocolate to celebrate. And nobody wants to let down an ickle baby do they? Christmas is the time when you can eat way more chocolate than usual without anyone raising an eyebrow. That’s because everywhere you walk there’s a bowl of Celebrations or Heroes waiting to be snaffled and the streets are a river of Fruit & Nut. True story.
8. Twinkly Lights
The rest of the year our high streets look drab but Christmas is the time when the local council pulls out all the stops and whacks up the glittering, twinkly lights. Behold trees with lights in! Look at all the electricity we can afford in December! I have fairy lights up all year in my house. Take that, council!
7. Christmas Films
I heart Christmas movies because they’re everything I love in a film: schmaltz, love, Santa, confectionery and a happy ending. 99.9% of Christmas movies conform to this strict template because otherwise, what is the point of a yuletide film? Yes, I’m looking at The Christmas Shoes. Look, all you need to know is that it stars Rob Lowe in that low period of his career and it contains that ultimate Christmas cocktail, snow & death. Ho, ho and ho.
6. Christmas Parties
I love a Christmas party especially if they contain gifts, free food and free drink: all three and it’s my ultimate night out. I’ve done many things at Christmas parties including drinking a vat of tequila (not recommended) and singing Bon Jovi (heartily recommended). But what I most like about Christmas parties is watching everybody else get drunk and embarrassing. Call it social anthropology.
5. Christmas Tunes
The Phil Spector Christmas album is one of my favourite ever – the moment when Darlene Love strikes up her vocals always means it’s Christmas to me. Then there’s The Pogues and Kirsty MacColl, Wham! and Mariah Carey – all bonafide Christmas classics. I also love watching Christmas Top Of The Pops – it’s still the highlight of my day apart from that bit where the champagne cork goes ‘pop!’
4. Christmas Markets
Time was when you had to jump on a train or a plane to get to a decent Christmas market but not anymore. Now come December, the UK is chocablock with rows of wooden huts selling sub-standard soap, odd decorations and mulled wine in styrofoam cups for a fiver. Take that, Europe!
Who doesn’t love a white Christmas? Scrooge, that’s who. It doesn’t happen often but if you draw back the curtains on Christmas morning and there’s 13-tog of snow on the ground, I defy you not to feel the least bit emotional. Of course once it turns to sludge and ice that fuzzy feeling kinda wears off.
Christmas drinks can be drunk all year round but somehow, mulled wine & cider, eggnog and port taste just little bit better around Christmas don’t they? You simply can’t beat a good mulled wine with some canapes to ring in the event proper and a Christmas dinner without port afterwards is just plain wrong, okay?
1. Christmas Eve
Our European cousins get a lot of things right and one of them is celebrating Christmas Eve over Christmas Day. I love Christmas Eve – it’s the excitement and the expectation that it brings. On Christmas Eve I’m giddy with anticipation, swigging Advocaat like there’s no tomorrow and listening to that Aled Jones song over and over again. “We’re walking in the aiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiir!” LOVE IT.