My little brother’s girlfriend will be at my mum’s for Christmas dinner for the first time this year and we started to tell her about some of the traditions (or more specifically, the rules which SHALL BE OBEYED) which have been hanging about since our youth. Some of them we knew were pretty unique but others were met with a modicum of confusion…
The build up
Mostly traditions that me and Mark/our friends have coined…
1. Presents. Every year we say ‘this is the year that we will get organised’. Every year we buy one present pre-1st December, congratulate ourselves roundly and get to mid December without having done another thing
2. The trimming of the tree shall be accompanied by the Men Behaving Badly Christmas special and the Muppets Christmas Carol.
3. I will put fairy lights in basically every room in the house including the kitchen
4. We will attempt to decorate a room. Like painting and stuff, in an attempt to get the house looking lovely for Christmas. Every year we remember what a rubbish idea this is but every year we do it again (last year our artifical tree, complete with decorations spent more time in the back garden than in the front room). I like to think this is a tradition borrowed from my dear departed dad who famously decided to tile the kitchen one Christmas Eve, and who liked to indulge in a spot of car washing in order for the car to be clean the day before we drove it to the airport for summer holidays. This year, we are doing the bathroom.
5. The mcdonalds Christmas party. To explain, most of the friendship group that I’ve taken into adulthood came together because we all worked at a local mcdonalds in our teenage years. The two Christmas parties that i went to while working there were the stuff of legend and we make an effort to get together over the festive period to recreate that on a small scale. This year, we all made pies and drank ale and was quite a sedate evening but it isn’t usually! Actually I’ve just remembered we all danced enthusiastically to Black Lace’s Superman. Maybe it wasn’t that sedate after all
6. Christmas Eve curry. Im still friends with a group of guys that i went to school with and for many a year now, Christmas Eve has involved a scrappy game of football in the local park, pub, a trip to one of the parents houses to sing carols, more pub and a curry where we are generally so drunk that we annoy the other patrons. I’ve curbed the drinking in recent years as many a Christmas day has been ruined by me downing pints on Christmas Eve
The big event- Smith family traditions
1. Present opening shall only be conducted when everyone in the family is assembled, fully clothed,and having breakfasted. For my siblings and I breakfast must involve a kellogs variety pack. We can’t promise not to fight over the frosties.
When we were little, we weren’t even allowed in the front room until everyone was ready but this rule has been relaxed now we can be trusted to wait patiently on the sofa and not start ripping in to the presents.
2. Present opening shall be accompanied by Christmas pop music and cheap sausage rolls. I did try making posh ones one year but it wasn’t the same and we went back to Iceland for something that only contained 10% meat the year afterwards
3. Christmas dinner shall include at least 18 kinds of vegetable and the traditional stuffing gravy. Invented by my nanny Ivy this basically involves mixing stuffing with gravy and sticking it in the oven, so it becomes a brilliant sort of variation on bread sauce. I genuinely thought everyone had stuffing gravy and was a bit sad the first year i went to Marks for Christmas dinner.
4. The toast at dinner shall be ‘may this be the worst of our days’. Coined by my great nanny Ag who died when i was small and apparently was absolutely crackers. Still, i think it’s a good toast. A race usually ensues over who says the toast.
5. Post dinner, at least one bottle of baileys will be consumed. If we’re at Marks nans for dinner, this is traditionally the point at which we will appear. We also like to have a designated Christmas drink for the evening which changes every year- White Russian year was particularly memorable. Gin year involved a lot of karaoke
6. Post dinner games will be conducted. My uncle will try to cheat. My mum is particularly competitive. We don’t talk about 1991, the year that Cluedo very nearly involved an actual murder. Consequently we try and play team games now to try to keep a lid on everyone.
7. Boxing day lunch is officially better than Christmas lunch- cold meat, bubble and squeak, pickles. Enough said
And then it’s all over until next year