There is a lot to dislike about the festive period and it’s easy to rant about it (as I’m sure I will later) but for now here are my favourite things about Christmas.
Music: There is a great combination of music at this time of year from the old classic crooners to the newer offerings of Carey and co. But my top three would look something like this:
#3 – The Christmas Song (Chestnuts roasting on an open fire) by Nat King Cole
#2 – Have yourself a merry little Christmas by Kermit the Frog
#1 – River by Robert Downey Jr.
An eclectic choice by most people’s standards but songs that really make me feel Christmassy. I don’t know what it is about Kermit and that song but it never fails to have me in tears, I think because I associate The Muppets with Christmas from their films being on around the festive period – obviously the Muppets Christmas Carol but also the other big screen adventures always tended to be on in late December. The words also strike a chord with us because it’s about those that you won’t have around at this time of year too which is always an emotional thought. River is originally a Joni Mitchell song and while it is a great version there is something so unexpected and raw about RDJ’s version that I love. Like many of Joni’s songs it has a beautiful bittersweet edge to it.
Food is an important part of the celebrations and I refuse to hear all the “Oh we’re not having Turkey this year” Christmas is Turkey – in fact it’s a veggie’s nightmare as far as I’m concerned because it’s a plateful of pig and poultry – turkey, stuffing, sausagemeat, sausages, sausages in bacon (how much sausage do we need? Lots!) & Roast Tatties! Fit fine, why worry about the veg when you can just eat meat for three whole days? Why do we only eat sausagemeat at this time of year? I know the mighty sausage roll gives it an outing, but on its own sliced up in gravy, I’m salivating just thinking about it. And then the puddings – for me it has to be a meringue-based pud with rasps and cream. All finished off with Elizabeth Duke crispy mints – just like the Christmas meals of my childhood!
You can’t have Christmas without Christmas films – and it doesn’t really matter which film it is either because any film about Christmas is worth a watch. The Santa Clause, Arthur Christmas, Fred Clause, the aforementioned Muppets Christmas Carol, It’s a Wonderful Life, Love Actually and Polar Express are all great but for me my top three are:
#3 – Die Hard – Yes it’s a Christmas film!
#2 – Home Alone – “I made my family disappear”
#1 – Elf – “What’s your favourite colour?”
Die Hard is genius and its set at Christmas so no arguments there. Home Alone is one of those films I must have seen a couple of dozen times but it is perfect Christmas viewing with the mix of comedy, pathos, drama and the world through a child’s eyes – if you don’t still laugh at it you really don’t have the Christmas spirit in you. Elf is the new kid on the block really but is my favourite as Will Ferrell has never been better than as Buddy. It’s great cast (especially the gorgeous Zooey Deschanel), fantastic family entertainment and good writing.
Finally the last thing on this Christmas list is friends and family. Many people moan that they have to spend time with their relatives at Christmas when they are young, but if I could go back and relive just a few moments of my childhood Christmases with the Grandparents who are no longer with us it would be the best present ever. Christmas to me was seeing my grandparents come to the house for Christmas: Great Granda McDonald sitting in his three-piece grey suit and the paper hat from the cracker watching the Queen’s Speech; Granny Duncan fussing over the space on the table and that everyone had enough; Granda Duncan snoring in the corner chair with the green hat he always ended up with; Granny Massie with her box of biscuits; Great Granny McDonald trying to finish the puzzle from the cracker. We moan at the time and unfortunately it’s time you never get back – to be a kid again.
That’s what Christmas is; not the commercial side, the gaudy lights and expensive presents, and for me it has nothing to do with religion – it’s the Dickensian take on it: Memories of Past, present and yet to come in a time we spend together.
Merry Christmas one and all!