It’s not Christmas yet!
PUBLISHED: 10:00 20 November 2017
In a flight of fanciful Nigella-ness, Lynne wonders if Christmas is more commercial tackiness than warm loveliness
The Christmas (first use of C-word, November 20 - not too bad) pudding spent eight hours steaming on the hob, trying to eject the lid of the steamer by expanding its fruit to, as Nigella might say, plump deliciousness; voluptuous lusciousness.
This year, my husband did it all by himself. For the first time ever I was not condemned to pick over 8oz of currants; tiny, sticky little things that adhere to your fingertips. They are best used to repair bicycle tyre punctures, add interest to Eccles cakes, or dot along the window sill to look like dead flies and give your mum the abdabs.
He is meticulous in his preparation, grating the nutmeg on to a plate and then, realising he has scattered threads of nutmeg on his trousers, brushing them on to the plate. “I nutmegged myself,” he said, blithely unconcerned about food hygiene. “They’re clean on,” he reassures me.
It is the addition of barley wine (we still have three of the four-can multipack remaining if anybody would like one), stout and rum that seems to evoke Christmas... I mean added to the pudding, not to me.
The trees and lights are going up in town centres and there are shelves of Christmas gift ideas in supermarkets and high street stores. Are they a bit rubbishy or is it just me? Even offered at three for the price of two I can’t get excited. Do men need matching socks and key-ring sets? Somewhere on the planet there must be a mountain entirely formed of discarded key-rings...
I look at “gifts for her”, “gifts for him”, “gifts for them” and sigh, making a mental note to tell my husband I don’t want undies, smellies, jewellery or knick-knacks. I am difficult to please. (No change there then, Lynne. ED) But, on the plus side, it means most of the things I get bought are oblong (CDs, dvds, books, boxes of chocolate) and thus easy to wrap.
As for Christmas crackers, how horrid are they in 2017? They used to be covered in soft crepe paper with its (thanks for this one too, Nigella) yielding sumptuousness and were adorned with little cut-out paper Santas or snowpeople. Now they are most often made from harsh card and probably assembled without the help of a human being. Also, I find the more expensive the crackers; the worse the cracker novelty. I am not speaking here of Fortnum and Mason’s £1000 Imperial Crackers which come in a wicker basket and contain the likes of Drakes ties and Lanvin cufflinks. No, I am talking about the £20 boxes that contain a chrome bulldog clip, a photo frame, a bottle opener, a key-ring mined from the aforementioned key-ring mountain, a set of screwdrivers, and a tape measure that extends to 30cms − what on earth are you supposed to measure with that?
At the same time as things begin to get festive, I am feeling the onset of seasonally affected disorder, or Ebenezer Scroogyness as it could also be called. Suddenly there is an epidemic of schmaltzy straight-to-TV Christmas movies on Channel 5 and elsewhere. The plots pretty much always involve someone who hates Christmas because their mum/dad/wife/husband/insert other died on Christmas Eve, 10, 15 or 20 years ago. In the penultimate scene a new relationship will reintroduce them to the true spirit of Christmas and this will be followed by a final scene around the Christmas Tree that is only missing the late Andy Williams in a Christmas sweater singing O Holy Night to cap the over-sentimental, (thanks again, Nigella) sloppy syrupyness. If that’s the way I feel, you may well ask, then: (a) why do I watch them? and (b) why do I blub with happiness throughout the last five minutes of the film? Bah, humbug.
Meanwhile, the grandsons will be gearing up for a month of barely suppressed excitement. When my children were small, they barely slept in December. The Advent calendar (“Oh, look it’s a... what is that?”) seasonal theatricals at school, Blue Peter making desk tidies out of toilet roll tubes and stick-backed plastic as a present for mums and dads: “Can I make one of those, mum? Can I; can I?”