December 18, 2013
Posted in View from the table
So here we are, a week before the big day, my girls are building up to a Christmas frenzy and we’re ticking along here – I heard a good programme about Christmas on the radio yesterday, on what it means to individuals and what tradition means to us all. It was enlightening, there were views from all corners; from the Christmas haters and dodgers, those who volunteer at crisis centres over the festive season, those who celebrate with bells on and those who are reminded of their faith. There was a great call from a woman who explained that every Christmas day she and her partner have a full English for breakfast and then get the canoe out and paddle downstream to the pub. That made me smile – a lot.
I’ve said it before but Christmas really should be whatever you want it to be. Traditions are good, but as a historian on the radio show explained, the Victorians, who gave us so many of our Christmas traditions, picked their own rituals for marking Christmas and discarded the ones they didn’t like much. So why shouldn’t we all do that? If something doesn’t work for you, change it, turn it into something that does work. And what is tradition really? It’s something that’s done repeatedly over a number of years. If nothing else the festive period is a holiday from the norm, if you don’t like a traditional Christmas then make your own arrangements, do something that makes you happy; canoe, read books, play Scrabble, learn the constellations, dye your hair pink, eat nothing but cake, stay in bed all day, make it your own.
We make our own traditions all the time, we just don’t realise it, and that’s what makes us tick, what bonds us together as families or groups of friends, these shared experiences, these little things that make us happy and give us our identity. Our Christmas traditions have grown with us as a family and some we’ve carried on from our own childhoods. The night the tree goes up we watch National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, for the last 11 years we’ve read Clement Clarke Moore’s The Night Before Christmas just before bedtime, after the stockings are hung up and the wee dram of whisky is poured for the big man in red. And on Christmas morning, just like we did at home when I was little, we all wait for one another to go down the stairs to open the door together. And then we eat these, Christmas morning muffins. Hot from the oven with butter and marmalade, with mugs of tea or warm milk and Buck’s Fizz.
These are from Nigella Christmas, you can find the recipe here. Nobody does Christmas food like the Goddess does and if you don’t have this book then I would heartily recommend it. The muffins are a doddle, mix up the dry ingredients in a bowl the night before and the wet ingredients into a jug and stash it in the fridge. Then all you have to do in the morning is mix the two together and get them in the oven. Best served with tea and fizz, in your jammies, while surveying the space that was once your living room but is now a depository for used wrapping paper. It’s traditional.
Sorry, I couldn’t resist..