Welcome to day two of our Christmas ABC…
Beer or brandy? Both!
B is for…
Bauble Blues: I’m lying on the sofa, under one of those mock-furry blankets. It’s dark, and cold, outside, but I’ve left the curtains open a bit so I can see the Christmas tree in the house over the road. It’s not particularly light, or warm, inside. I have the heating on low, and I’ve only turned on one lamp. I’m listening to Tom Waits. I am alone.
I can hear families walking back from the town centre, where they have been Christmas shopping. A mother shouts to her children, “Come on, hurry up, all these bags are heavy”. Then two children, laughing and singing Christmas songs out of tune and out of synch. I like to think they are all happy, going back to bright, warm homes, bursting with sparkly bauble hung trees and brightly wrapped gifts.
I can’t fully explain to you my blues. They may come from being an atheist, or being single. But I’m quite miserable about the whole winter/Christmas thing. It is dark and cold, and when you put those baubles away on the 6th of January, all that dark and cold is still there – slowly getting lighter, slow day by slow day. There’s going to be another three months before there’s anything really worth celebrating. On this Saturday December afternoon, I’m just imagining the red warmth of the sun on my face while I sit in my rose filled garden in June.
But my winter is spent retreating. I listen to the other girls in the office, constantly moaning – it’s all about gift shopping, or dinner cooking, or seating plans, or new clothes for a drinks party. Someone’s boyfriend just dumped them, and she’d already bought his present. Someone has to drive 100 miles on Christmas Eve to see their elderly Gran in hospital. Someone’s a vegetarian and has to take their own nut roast to their in-laws. I don’t join in the chat. Their Christmas holidays sound like an effort, more work than going to work.
When Christmas Eve comes, I’ll make sure I have enough food for hibernating, but not so much I throw half of it away. I have a pile of books from the library I want to read, I must prune the roses, and I’ve bought a tin of those assorted chocolates. Sometimes it’s good to be like everyone else.
I imagine a bauble falling off a tree during the dark of the night, and slowly rolling across the floor, and being lost under the dark of the sofa. No-one will miss it.
Board Games: Isn’t it wonderful, when you have the whole family round, to dig out the Monopoly and spend a couple of hours arguing over the ‘special tax’ rule? No. Play Cluedo instead, and don’t speculate on what Colonel Mustard and Miss Scarlet got up to in the library with the rope. Or Reverend Green and Professor Plum with the lead pipe, for that matter. There are kids about, you know. Try Trivial Pursuit instead. And don’t laugh when somebody guesses ‘Mr Kipling’ when asked ‘who said let them eat cake?’ Well, you can laugh, but not in a patronising way. You’re no mastermind yourself, izzit. If anyone suggests charades don’t say, ‘Christmas is one big charade.’ Save that for Boxing Day when the in-laws have gone home. It’s things like that that cause rifts, you know.
Brussels Sprouts: Has there ever been a more divisive vegetable than the Sprout? Let’s face it, Brussels are to the genus brassica what Marmite™ is to the world of savoury spreads: it’s an either/or thing and few seem to fall into the ‘I’ll just have a couple to be polite’ category. Despite this, and the fact that there are so many other vegetables available that won’t so dramatically polarise opinion at the dining table, they now seem so intrinsically linked with Christmas that they’ve become a must-have staple. I’m sure they get dished up even in houses where nobody likes ‘em, on the basis that ‘Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without them.’ But tradition aside the BS plays one other important role in our Christmas celebrations, for, bad manners, copious amounts of alcohol, duck liver pate, and a smorgasbord of overripe and gloriously varicose vintage cheeses aside, what else do we have to blame all the teatime farting on?
Forget about trees and the lights that adorn them,
Forget about cakes and the queen’s speech at three,
Forget dear Santa and presents – who needs ‘em?
But overlook sprouts and you’ll answer to me…
Featured Writer: Carolyn Gray (Bauble Blues). Additional Contributors: Peppy Scott, David Smith.