Is it just me, or are the twelve days of Christmas really quite as mad as a partridge in a pear tree? One whiff of a glittering cinnamon scented candle and we seem to fall like a festive Alice into a strange winter wonderland, where setting fire to oozing, indistinguishable puddings and using poisonous foliage as a decoration is totally, delightfully, normal.
Every single year we are faced with the inedible inevitability of the vaguely sulphurous fourth Brussels sprout and the realisation that the dusty bottle of sherry really hasn’t improved with time – it’s just as disgusting as last year. Yet we all smile at one another, jovially clinking glasses and remarking, ‘Only at Christmas…’
Only at Christmas is it suddenly socially acceptable to bring six-foot pine trees inside or to sit on a strange man’s knee and demand a present. Only at Christmas do we feel obliged to tolerate mysteriously cloaked strangers on our doorstep singing out of tune and asking for money…or mince pies. Only at Christmas do country walks become compulsory marches as, with all the gear and no idea, we follow the alpha male or female (a position defined by the most accomplished Charades player) into the freezing winter wilderness. Only at Christmas do we chuckle amongst ourselves as our lips turn blue and we lose all feeling in our toes, convincing ourselves that we’ve never felt more alive – or rather, when we finally return hours later, relieved we actually are alive.
Of course, ‘Only at Christmas’ becomes a helpful festive motto as we reach for that extra helping of stuffing…or for our eighth (or was it ninth?) cocktail sausage. Only at Christmas would we dine in revoltingly garish jumpers, the battery-powered LEDs flashing manically in what can only be likened to nausea-inducing strobe lighting. Tucking our thermal underwear into elasticated waistbands, colourful paper crowns slipping from our flushed faces (and possible meat sweats), we roar with laughter at the worst jokes we’ve ever heard whilst gleefully swapping a packet of paperclips with a ‘make-it-yourself’ toy car.
Whilst at any other time of the year, running through London in a horrendous leopard-print knickers/trainers combination seems oh-so-wrong, a single sparkling snowflake is enough to transform such a scenario into something oh-so-right (yes, we’re talking about Bridget Jones and Mark Darcy’s kiss). You see, it’s not our yuletide traditions that make Christmas the most wonderful time of the year, it’s being with the people you love. Because really, without the rows over the burnt turkey, slightly too competitive snowball fights and that badly-knitted pair of socks from your aunt, Christmas just wouldn’t be…Christmas.
So let’s raise a toast: to snowflake kisses, to family and to every single festive frolic endured only at Christmas.
I’ll drink that mulled wine if I must…