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By rights, this should be my most hungover day of the year. If life were as it should be, I would be getting a lie-in until about noon, which is seven hours later than my children usually grant me. I would slump to the kitchen, fall back into bed with some toast and Marmite, followed shortly thereafter by a Sali Hughes-approved jacket potato with cheese and Marmite (see potato-based musings passim), which is – and you might have already spotted this genius detail – basically the same meal twice but with different carbohydrates.
Then I would scramble to clear away all the debris in the kitchen, in the manner of the young man in the seminal 1990s Yellow Pages advert about the heroism of French polishers, still the most powerful storyline ever committed to celluloid. But, unlike him, instead of cleaning up after the party before my parents come home, I’d be cleaning up after the party before my children come home, which they would at around mid-afternoon. We’d then watch The Muppet Christmas Carol, the kids exhausted from the excitement of spending the night at their grandparents’, my partner and me just exhausted. And then we would go to bed at 7pm, just as the Good Lord intends for us all.
For the past five years, this is how I’ve spent the Saturday before Christmas, and that’s because the Friday before Christmas is when I throw my Christmas party. The food is always the same (enormous pies, giving my kitchen, as I charmingly slur at my guests, a Dickensian feel), as is the drink (barrels of wine, see previous moodboard reference to Dickens). What is Christmas without tradition? And while I don’t want to denigrate my own party, the prospect of my other tradition – staying in bed the morning after and eating salty carbs – is sometimes the one thing that pulls me through the year.
Except that’s not what I’m doing today. The children haven’t seen their grandparents in months, let alone spent a night with them, so will have woken me today when it is still dark, as per. As for the party, I am not – shockingly – a scientist, but I’m guessing the dictionary definition of “superspreader event” is “lots of people crammed into an overheated kitchen, all breathing over a table full of pies”. So no party, no lie-in. The late, great Alan Rickman finally got his wish: Christmas has been called off.
Despite Boris Johnson’s desperation not to go down in history as the PM who cancelled Christmas, his government’s Producers-level degrees of self-sabotage means that, as Mr Spock probably never said, it is the holiday season, but not as we know it. As I write, the country isn’t locked down (again) (yet), and those of us who didn’t know any of the 62,000 people in this country who have died from Covid have much to be thankful for.
But – and consider that a 60ft tall BUT – it has long seemed to this Jew that, for most people in this country, Christmas is about traditions rather than religion, and most people cannot do most of their traditions this year. Unless you are willing to put your family’s health in Johnson’s hands – and given Johnson doesn’t seem to know how many children he has, I am not – then it is likely you won’t take his word about it being magically fine to see your relatives next week. On a much lesser note, the Christmas market you always visit probably isn’t open this year, your favourite shops for gifts may be closed for good and the local ice rink is plaintively empty. In what is truly the greatest tragedy of 2020, the bubble bath I ask for every Christmas is no longer being manufactured. The Lord does test the righteous.
We American Jews have already gone through a Covid-era Passover, Rosh Hashanah, Thanksgiving and Hanukah, and I will bless you with our hard-won wisdom on what it’s like to celebrate a holiday without your usual traditions: it’s not great. But! It’s not as terrible as you might anticipate. Doing Passover with my parents and sister on Zoom was strange at first – but also memorable. How often can you say that about an annual tradition?
Also, no disrespect to my colleagues, who I obviously and universally adore, but I’ve coped without this year’s office Christmas party. I’ve also been fine without schlepping into town to do my present shopping, restricting myself instead to shops I can walk to and (fine, I’ll admit it) others online. Also, sad lack of parties aside, I’m quite enjoying this feeling of being legally mandated to hibernate. What a shame, we can’t get a babysitter *reaches for the Quality Street and TV remote*.
As for the things I do miss, they will – bubble bath, tragically, aside – return: I will see my parents next year, I will be able to take my kids ice skating and I will have my party. And how extraordinary the once usual will seem. Finally, I leave you with these timeless words of wisdom: we may be living through a global plague, but we still have The Muppet Christmas Carol. Christmas has not, actually, been called off. God rest all ye merry gentlemen, and ye gentlewomen, singing along to Fozzie Bear, cheese plate resting on your belly.
Source: The Guardian
Keyword: Everyone makes their own Christmas traditions: mine involve a hangover and the Muppets | Christmas