That Christmas is a fab time of year, is for me, like for most, an irrefutable given. It´s up there jostling for pole position on the calendar along with two weeks in the sun in summer. Despite the best attempts of a couple of (ungry?) people close to me who mumble and grumble that they “ate Christmas” (you know who you are!) and the challenges of how to cross the North Sea and be in two places at one time, I love it.
You get to be together with your nearest and dearest for several days on end and rejoice in their company in surroundings that have been tarted up and primped for the occasion, safe in the knowledge that everyone else you know is doing exactly the same. However, I am a creature of habit who loves tradition (in all its shapes and form) and although I am lucky enough to be able to cut and paste from the best of two cultures in preparation for this incomparable season of goodwill and relaxation, certain things are always on my list – and I´m not talking presents here, just my list of elements that merge to form the essential Xmas.
Having just returned from a fabulous Xmas party (thanks guys)/sleepover/visit to charming Xmas market combo, I am now rapidly power sliding into a bubble of Xmas spirit so I thought I´d have a go at distilling these elements into a top ten. Here goes:
- Snow- I know, you don`t always get what you ask for but the odds are stacked in my favour here given the location of my humble abode – Norway is simply Christmas personified, and for this I count my lucky, twinkly stars. Maybe it would be different had I been born in the Caribbean or Florida, but to be frank the palm trees, shorts, sweat and twinkly lights thing just doesn`t do it for me (at this time of year).
I tried it on two occasions for different reasons and will admit to have actually cried at the beauty of Xmas decorations in Dubai one mid December, but seriously, Xmas and snow are like gin and tonic – why change a winning combination?
- Decorations – whoo, where to start on this one? I think basically I have a serious cleptomanical addiction issue going on here and an adrenalin rush second to none when surrounded by such beautiful adornments. I do try to limit myself to one or two new bits and bobs a year, but damage limitation on this front is not always guaranteed, unleashed and unsupervised I can go a bit mad. My trump card here though is to buy them when abroad and call them souvenirs and luckily I have a very patient and understanding husband who will mouth appropriately acquiescent platitudes when I dare to suggest our collection needs to grow…
- Christmas markets – a relative newcomer to them, I just love em and basically can`t get enough of them, but with experience comes a raising of standards and expectations. To date my faves have been Montreux last year with my mate Mel who conveniently currently lives down the road from it, the Germans are pros too and the Norwegian one we went to today at the old ironworks just outside Oslo (Bærums Verk) was also great, not least when it started to snow.
- Snowballs – aka Warninks advocaat, a dash of lime juice and lemonade, couple of bits of ice and a cocktail cherry. Xmas just isn`t Xmas without, full stop.
- Christmas TV and soppy films (Love Actually, Three gifts for Cinderella, The Queen`s speech) – it just wouldn`t be the same without.
- Pyjamas – to slob around in while drinking nr 4, watching nr 5 and recovering from nr 7.
- Christmas Dinner – in addition to being a creature of habit I am also a glutton and although if asked to pick, turkey with all the trimmings (but please, no messing around trying to make brussel sprouts fancy, they are fab as they are) would be my first choice, I do also love the traditional Norwegian versions based on either pork or dried and salted lamb (no, really, it tastes great, especially washed down with aquavit) although I am not too keen on the Norwegian pudding choices.
- Presents – I know, materialism is bad and most of us really do have more than we need of everything but generally I just love looking for Xmas presents, wrapping them, looking at them under the tree, giving them and getting them, from the silly and the quirky through the realms of useful, right on to lusted after objects of desire. It really is the thought that counts, the thought and care that goes on behind the scenes.
- English pubs – from the cheesy decorations and oh so familiar festive pop songs to roaring fires, half pints of scrummy cider and farmers with their dogs, I just love English pubs at Christmas.
- And, of course, last but not least, the Christmas story. While not a religious person by any means I have to admit to liking the Christmas story, the reason for the whole shebang along with the omnipresent theme of goodwill to all men and carol services in church.
I guess what I am simply trying to say here is that for some reason it`s sneaked up on me this year and until recently now I didn`t feel prepared but now, with just two weeks to go, I am really looking forward to Christmas and hope you are too!