Friday, 21 December 2012

Festive five

I was starting to feel like I should just STFU with my Christmassy ramblings, when I read Louise's blog and she mentioned how much she was enjoying my festive posts.  She had sought out a Christmas blog tag and so I decided to 'borrow' her questions (with a few amendments) for one of my last posts before the 25th.

1. When do you start getting excited about Christmas?
I start thinking about and planning for Christmas in September (you can read all about my -admittedly anally retentive - festive planning here), but I start getting properly excited towards the end of November and generally peak in the first weeks of December.  Then I hit the wall of end-of-term exhaustion for a week or so, before getting excited and energised all over again when school finishes.  We have a lovely tradition at my school on the last day of term: we all walk to the local church for a carol service featuring our wonderfully talented musicians and choir.  It's a brilliant way to get back into the festive spirit after a knackering week of hyper kids.

2. Do you still have an advent calendar?
Every year I say I am going to buy one, and every year I fail.  The thing is, I want a traditional, non-chocolate advent calendar, and they are so hard to find.  Maybe next year...

3. What are your favourite Christmas films?
I wrote about some of my favourites here last Friday, but I forgot to mention one that I have become obsessed with in recent years: The Family Stone.  It's about a family of grown-up children all converging on the parental home for Christmas; eldest son Everett brings his uptight girlfriend Meredith (played perfectly by Sarah Jessica Parker) with him, and high-jinks ensue.  The central romantic plot is terribly contrived, but it's very funny, very festive and very, very moving.  The peerless Diane Keaton plays the Stone family matriarch, who is battling breast cancer, and in amongst the slapstick and political humour are a number of scenes which absolutely destroy me emotionally.  When I watched it with my own mother, we sobbed and sobbed (while my step-mum looked on in peturbation, which just made us laugh).  Definitely a good Christmas film if you enjoy a good cry; for those of you who like less sentimentality (although it is Christmas: when else can you indulge in pure sentiment if not now?), A Muppet Christmas Carol is the film that signals the beginning of Christmas for me. 

4. Talk us through your typical Christmas day.
We almost always spend Christmas at my mum's house; a lie-in is followed by gathering for breakfast (usually bacon butties or smoked salmon and scrambled eggs, plus bucks fizz) and opening stockings in our pyjamas.  Then we get dressed and start on dinner (it's my turn to make it this year) before going out for a walk.  We are generally pretty traditional in what we eat: meat of some kind (roast beef and roast chicken this year), spuds, sprouts... the whole shebang.  For years after they divorced my dad used to come over for dinner as well (yep, even after my mum had moved in with my step-mum), but now it tends to be just my mum, Andrea (step-mum), me and my brother, Richard.  This year youngest brother Jonathan will also be coming over for dinner.  And then finally, sometime around half past 3, we get to opening the presents, before changing back into our pyjamas, snuggling in front of the TV and eating cheese.  By this point, we have been drinking steadily since 10am, but it doesn't stop us from cracking open the Baileys before we retire to bed: sated, a little sozzled, but very happy.

5. What is the best Christmas present you have ever received?
Two things spring to mind.  Firstly, the year when I was about five or six and we spent Christmas at my grandparents house, my gift from them was a HUGE dolls house.  Bought and lovingly restored by my grandpa, it had carpet (and lino) sample squares on the floors, hand-sewn curtains at the window (my granny and mum had been up until about 2am that morning, finishing them off), sliding glass patio doors and - best of all - a photograph of my and my brothers in a 'gilt' frame above the fireplace.  It is a work of art; now sadly gathering mould and dust in my mum's garage.

The second gift is something I wrote about it for Laura's blog not too long ago.  I'd casually mentioned to Richard that songs with handclaps in them were always awesome, and on Christmas afternoon I opened up a parcel containing a mixtape called Handclapping Songs, which he had painstakingly put together over the course of about six months.  It's still one of my favourite listens.


  1. Oh hurray! I'm so glad you did this!

    When I was young my dad made ne a dolls house for Christmas one year....and I hated it. I told him I wanted a stable! I cringe about it now. So ungrateful.

    1. When I think about what an ungrateful wretch I could be, I cringe too! We all have a story like that, it must be part of growing up.

  2. I was going to comment on your other blog post about the major omission of The Family Stone from your Christmas film list. I'm glad to see that's been rectified here.