Saturday 25 December 2010
How Do You Do Christmas?
Every year, Upwards wail about how horrible and commercial (i.e. expensive) Christmas is, while Teales witter about “the magic of”. (“Simplifying Christmas” means doing it for less.)
Everybody divides the holiday into “good Christmas” and “bad Christmas”. The bad is crowds in Oxford Street, people making money, people spending money, overindulgence generally. The good is carols from Kings College, twinkling from candles and decorations, and the living room theatre of Santa Claus’ visit (the mince pie with the bite out of it).
When the Upwards, Weybridges and Teales get together over sherry and nibbles, they almost come to blows over the Santa Claus question. Sam and Gideon won’t lie to their kids, while the others wax sentimental over the glowing faces of the little ones. Howard blusters over the council’s attempts to call Christmas “Winterval” (an urban myth, like Baa Baa Green Sheep). Bryan Teale, who works in the public sector, grumbles that his department weren’t allowed to sing carols.
Sam announces to anyone who will listen that they are having a goose, not a turkey, this year. When Country Living was fashionable, Sam used to make her own wreaths out of twigs and holly, and vast arrangements of autumn leaves. She hasn’t quite caught up with white ironic cutout Christmas trees, black tinsel etc. Now she decorates with holly and evergreens she’s picked in a real wood, explaining that it’s a symbol of everlasting life. She may have a few decorations, but they’ll be angels she made herself out of salt dough, or gingham stars. (Mrs Definitely crochets snowflakes to hang on her tree, and may even crochet a “tree skirt” for it.)
The Teales and Weybridges (and the Weybridges’ Australian au pair) go on a winter minibreak to a Christmas market in Prague and love all the glitter, choirs and wooden toys.
The Stow-Crats (plus the Stow Crats and Stowcrats who are trying to move with the times and live down their background) have a huge house party and play charades.
The Weybridges have a traditional Christmas dinner down to the last mince pie, cake and flaming pudding. They have a lot of cocktail parties for neighbours with traditional Japanese rice crackers and cheese footballs, which they call “cocktail snacks”. But they’ve learned to laugh at cubes of cheese on cocktail sticks stuck into half an orange.
The Definitelies get their party food from Iceland, including Thai prawn parcels with chilli dip, and veal roll (with a short O). They give vast cards with a lot of glitter, and decorate the outside of their house with glowing deer, Santas and elves and a huge MERRY CHRISTMAS.