Best things about Christmas

Now we’re into December, I can stop trying to reign it in and fully embrace my love of Christmas. I start looking forward to Christmas in about August (I think it’s when the evenings start getting a bit darker. Maybe.) so it’s been a long time coming!

I love pretty much everything about Christmas (except the crowds, the commercialisation and American Christmas films) and here’s why:

1. The food

Pure heaven. Christmas food is just divine, except for turkey. I don’t really like turkey, but swap it for a delicious, moist roast chicken and I couldn’t be happier.

Think about it, when else in the year can you gorge on roast potatoes, roasted vegetables, bread sauce, red currant jelly, pigs in blankets, gammon (Nigel Slater’s bacon and treacle crusted gammon is incredible), trifle, Christmas cake, Christmas pudding, mince pies, clementines, dates, chocolate, cocoa…? And that’s even before we’ve started on the alcohol.

Marrying a Frenchman opened up a whole new world of Christmas delicacies to enjoy and though I may still prefer the British ones (and always take mince pies and Christmas cake with me if we spend Christmas with the in-laws) I’m not going to turn my nose up at the opportunity to eat thirteen puddings. And green beans with chestnuts are excellent with roast chicken.

I don’t just love eating the food. I love planning it and making it. I start mulling over what I’m going to make in November – what to have for the réveillon, for Christmas dinner, for pudding, for Boxing Day… Yesterday I made mincemeat, my Christmas cake is already in the cupboard maturing. It truly is the most wonderful time of the year.

2. The music

I feel I should be embarrassed to admit this, but I’m not: I have a thing for Aled Jones. I listen to the original Christmas Album on repeat from 1st December. It just wouldn’t be Christmas without it.

I also love carols from King’s and all that, and you can’t beat a good carol service. A few years ago we went to the one at the London Oratory in West Kensington. It was packed. But still, the choir is amazing.

And I also love Christmas pop music and the crooners. Phil Spector, Bing Crosby, Wham!… (Just not Bublé, please.)

Basically, if it’s Christmassy, I’ll play it. And sing it. And dance to it. And, in the future, thoroughly embarrass my children to it, I’m sure. (I actually can’t wait to be an embarrassing parent, I feel it’s my calling in life.)

3. The decorations

I. Love. Lights.

I love Christmas lights in my house to welcome me in from the cold. I love Christmas lights on other people’s houses to look at when I’m going for a run or taking the children for a walk. I plan our route depending on which houses have the best display. (Too much?)

Also a big fan of Christmas trees – but not themed ones. I went through a phase in my teenage years of thinking trees should have a colour scheme, but I was wrong. It sucks all the joy out of it. I want them to be brightly coloured, preferably with a few handmade decorations thrown in.

And wreaths, and paper chains, and advent crowns and candles. Not the singing snowmen though. That’s a step too far, even for me. (But not, sadly, for my gran…)

4. Christmas films

I feel I should clarify here, I do not mean Hallmark Christmas movies or whatever. I mean the classics, like the Snowman, Father Christmas, the Tailor of Gloucester and all the ones my parents recorded off the telly for me about 25 years ago.

5. Christmas television

Closely related to the previous point. Christmas television is the best. The Christmas specials are fab (CANNOT WAIT FOR THE GAVIN AND STACEY SPECIAL THIS YEAR) and even the scheduling of normal television is better than usual. I have found memories of going through the (double edition!) listings magazine deciding what we wanted to record and what we wanted to watch. Christmas telly is my fave. Although I’ve only watched the Queen’s speech twice (because my uncle was directing it – I know right?!).

6. Buying Christmas presents

I love buying presents, although since I’ve had children I have less time to mooch around the shops trying to find the perfect gift. That rush when you find something you know the recipient will love, you can’t beat it.

It’s just a shame my husband is the most difficult person to buy for in the world, ever. He basically just gets chocolate. This year I bought him slippers. A nice, safe present. Then he bought some for himself. This is the sort of thing I’m dealing with.

Fortunately, I think my mum and sister will love their presents this year. My dad, not so sure. But I have no other ideas, so it’ll have to do!

7. Christmas crafts

With or without children, I love Christmas crafts. Making decorations from paper or salt dough or felt, making Christmas cards. I’m in my element.

When my daughter was a very new baby, I made a felt advent calendar nativity scene (you can see it on Facebook if you’re interested!) and last year I started on a crochet nativity. I have all the wool to do sheep, wise men, shepherds – the whole shebang – but I haven’t found the time to do more than Jesus, Mary and Joseph since I gained a second (nap refusing) child. One day…

8. All the Christmas activities

There’s just so much to do, especially with children. The Christmas markets and festivals. All the light displays. It’s so much easier to entertain the children and they really get me into the festive spirit, even if you do tend to freeze your bottom off.

9. The whole Jesus thing.

This is the best bit about Christmas, obviously.

God has been made man and come to save our souls so that we can go to Heaven and be with him forever, perfectly happy. That’s probably better even than Christmas dinner with Aled Jones playing in the background and the Christmas tree twinkling away in the corner.

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