My Christmas Alphabet – that is, the A to Z of my Christmas.
It seems natural at this time of year to write a festive post. It’s probably on everyone’s minds, after all. I could write about my favourite Christmas film, or book, or traditions. I could even write about my own seasonal novels. I’ve written eight of them so there’d be no shortage of material.
But in the end, I thought I’d give you the lowdown on my own Christmas – past and present. Everyone’s Christmas is different, and I can’t speak for anyone else, so this is basically the A to Z of my Christmas. Since there are twenty-six letters in the alphabet (you knew that, right?) I thought I’d be kind to you and split the post into two parts. Well, it is Christmas. And God bless us, every one.
A: Abba and Advocaat
Not two words you’d often put together, I’m sure, but there’s a special connection for me. I rarely drink alcohol, but at Christmas I do like a Snowball – advocaat with lemonade and a drop of lime cordial. Unfortunately, being unused to the “hard stuff”, it tends to go straight to my head. This led to one particularly memorable occasion at my parents’ house when I ended up on the kitchen table, hairbrush in hand, belting out Dancing Queen to an audience of bemused, bewildered, and slightly hysterical family members. Luckily, I didn’t get into trouble with my mum, as she was up there singing with me! And no, she didn’t have drink as an excuse. By the way, I wasn’t some sozzled teenager. I was in my thirties at the time. And yes, even my poor children witnessed my disgrace…
B: Boxing Day
I love Boxing Day now, because it’s mostly quieter and there’s less pressure to have the perfect day than there is on Christmas Day. When I was a kid, though, Boxing Day meant the annual party at my nanna’s house, which was packed to the rafters with various great aunts and uncles, cousins and half cousins, and lots of noise and laughter. My nanna had five sisters and a brother, and they all had children and grandchildren, too, so we were a big family, and we all lived within walking distance of each other. Boxing Day was the one day everyone was together in one place and I loved it! Actually, remembering those parties without the rose-coloured spectacles, B could also stand for booze, brawls and bad behaviour, but I still absolutely loved it, so I won’t dwell on that!
C: Christmas Eve
My favourite day of the holidays. All that anticipation and increasing excitement and knowing that it’s too late to go to the shops and too late to order anything online, so what hasn’t arrived won’t be arriving, and you may as well stop worrying. Christmas Eve is my night to watch It’s a Wonderful Life, chill out, and start on those Snowballs! C is also for CDs, which I used to get for Christmas, and buy as gifts, but apparently no one does that any more. It’s all downloads. I can’t say I’m impressed. It was bad enough when vinyl records vanished. Oh, and C is also for Christmas Number One, which was a huge deal when I was a whippersnapper. Is it still? Who knows? I can’t make head nor tail of any of it, and I wouldn’t have a clue what was even in the charts, never mind number one. I presume they do still have a chart? Well anyway, they’ll never get anything as good as Slade again, that I do know. Haha!
D: Doctor Who
I love it! It was my Christmas Day delight, but it’s moved to New Year’s Day, which annoyed me at first, but now I prefer it. What better way to start a new year than with The Doctor? D is also for dinner which, this year, will be just for the two of us. It hardly seems worth bothering with to be honest. But, you know, we have to, ‘cos it’s Christmas. Oh, and D is also for dishwasher, and the irony is I now have one, whereas when I had five kids at home all the pots had to be washed by hand because we could never have afforded a dishwasher back then. I believe that’s what they call sod’s law.
E: Eric and Ernie and Enid Blyton
Stalwarts of my childhood Christmas. Watching The Morecambe and Wise show, howling with laughter at their antics, feeling a deep and abiding joy at hearing my parents’ laughter. As for Enid Blyton – her books were my favourite Christmas presents. I was very lucky as I got three new ones every year, and I could never wait to get started on them. By the way, I do realise that it’s years since Eric and Little Ern were on the box at Christmas (at least, in new stuff) but there you have it. I am very old. And to be honest, it seems like only yesterday since I was choking with laughter at one of those plays Wot Ernie Wrote.
F: Frustration and other Infuriating Board Games
We used to play board games a lot when I lived at home (isn’t it funny how I still call my childhood house, home? I haven’t lived there for years. Heck, my mum’s had four or five homes since then!) and when my own children were little. It was mostly Snakes and Ladders and Ludo for me when I was young, but as an adult we’ve loved Cluedo, Monopoly, Scrabble, Pictionary, Taboo, Trivial Pursuit… Frustration was a favourite as it was quick and simple for the little ones. I stopped playing Monopoly and Scrabble with The Husband though. He ALWAYS beats me at Scrabble, and as for Monopoly… Let’s just say he’s a sore loser and leave it at that!
G: Gifts for Men, Gift sets and Gingerbread.
Oh crikey, gifts for men! I mean, all I can say is help! What do you get the men in your life? All I remember my dad ever getting were socks, a Brut gift set, a bottle of Old Spice, and a box of handkerchiefs from a well-meaning elderly relative. If you look online at gift ideas for the fellas, it’s all gadgets and gizmos. But surely, not all men want those? Why are men so hard to buy for? And why don’t they just tell us what they want? G is also for Gift Sets, that old reliable present that never lets us down. Stuck for ideas? Grab a gift set. They always come in handy. Mostly. G is also for gingerbread. Gingerbread men, gingerbread houses, gingerbread scented candles, gingerbread room fragrances, gingerbread lattes – it’s everywhere. I saw Anton du Beke making a gingerbread trifle on the television the other day. He lined the bowl with slices of ginger cake and poured rum over them (he said you can use any tipple). He then poured some thick custard over the cake, and placed gingerbread men all around the sides of the bowl (they’d been dunked in rum too!) and dolloped a load of cream on top of the custard. He then sprinkled gingerbread crumbs on top, swirled some caramel sauce around, and stuck a few drunken looking gingerbread men (not surprised with all that rum!) on top to finish it off. There you go, I’ve given you an idea for a Christmas dessert there. You’re welcome.
Having five children, money was always tight at Christmas. To help myself, I once saved all year round with a national company for a massive food hamper for Christmas, and when it finally came there were so many things in it that we would never have bought in a million years. When we totted up the prices, we could have got it for half the price if we’d bought the items we actually wanted individually. Never again. I think I just got carried away, looking at the picture in the magazine to be honest. They just made it all look so tempting and I couldn’t resist. Coincidentally, H is also for Hungry. Avoid those brochures! Actually, that shows my age, too. It’s all done online now, isn’t it? Blush. On the other hand, I don’t want any irate hamper companies to sue me, so let’s just say, don’t avoid them, just check them out carefully and make sure you really want what’s in them. And if you do that, you will have a very merry Christmas, and be full of Christmas cheer, and your cupboards and fridge will be full to the brim with lots of festive delights. Phew.
I: It’s a Wonderful Life
My favourite film. Ever. ‘George Bailey, I’ll love you ’til the day I die.’ Enough said.
As in, happy birthday to. I always reminded the kids to wish Him a happy birthday on Christmas morning. It seemed rude not to. He is kind of what the whole thing’s about, after all. J is also for Jam tarts, because you can’t have Christmas without them. Jam tarts and lemon curds. Yummy. Better than those vile mince pies… J is also for Jelly, which I’ve just realised Anton du Beke left out of his trifle. Maybe because he couldn’t get gingerbread jelly.
I’ve just realised that I’ve never been kissed under the mistletoe, despite being with The Husband for over forty years. Says it all!
I wrote a letter to Father Christmas every single year, begging for a pony. I never got a pony, which seems highly suspicious to me. I mean, is Father Christmas supposed to be that selective? My sister always got her dolls… L is also for lists, and if you haven’t made one and amended it at least a dozen times before Christmas you’re a better person than I am. I used to make lists for everything, and with five kids to buy presents for, as well as food, I was constantly correcting and checking it. I once arrived at the supermarket, all ready to do the “big shop”, and discovered I’d left the list at home. I was terrified! Luckily, I’d pored over the dratted thing so many times it was etched in my memory. Which was L for Lucky!
M: Muppet Christmas Carol
Muppet Christmas Carol is probably my second favourite festive film. Michael Caine, those lovely Muppets, a fabulous soundtrack and lots of humour. I think it’s probably the best adaptation of the story of Scrooge ever. Controversial? I think not.
That’s all for today, but I’ll be posting part two of the Christmas Alphabet tomorrow. See you then!