I’m dreaming of a spontaneous Christmas..
This year, for the first time in my life, I am going to eat Christmas lunch on December 25th at a pub by the river, accompanied by close friends and some of my extended family. This feels like a total break from tradition, and promises to be good fun. I feel strangely daring and different.
The fact is that the traditions around celebrating Christmas don’t really lend themselves to spontaneity. We are apparently allowed a margin of variation, but it is rather thin. Certain procedures have to be observed, and people feel comfortable following their family’s particular routine that has probably been refined for a number of years, and won’t take kindly to being tampered with. For insight into the family rituals of another of the dames, do check out https://damesnet.com/?p=1920
One aspect of this is of course the grand buying and distribution of presents. So how do you do yours? Organise your Christmas lists that is?
In my experience that question usually elicits one of two diametrically opposite responses. One is a conspiratorial wink and nod of sisterly understanding, and a reply along the lines of ‘Oh yes, we all make quite sure that everyone knows what we do and don’t want, to ensure no disappointments on The Big Day.’
The other view can be summed up along the lines of ‘Oh no, I wouldn’t dream of dictating to my nearest and dearest what they should or shouldn’t get me for Christmas. That takes away all the fun and surprise.’ You smile sagely in agreement, and then remember these words as you unwrap Uncle Harry’s well-intentioned but wholly inappropriate offering.
Actually of course, it’s often not nearly so black and white. Our family has been known to suggest themes to each other, rather than actually listing specific items. For example, the youngest member is particularly keen on The Tiger Who Came to Tea. But he’s got the book already, and there is already a tiger costume in the family dressing up box. So what’s left? A trip to the zoo? A tea set perhaps…aha, now there’s an idea.
There is also the point that I would like to think that I knew my close family and friends well enough to be able to find them some pleasing gifts without having recourse to an actual list. After all, the supplements coming through my letterbox in their apparent thousands are bursting with proposals for every age, gender and lifestyle, not to mention their virtual equivalents online.
Back to the rituals: whatever rules have been established for buying the presents, my informal enquries have confirmed that giving them out ON THE DAY is another focus for a set of procedures that will be highly specific to the family in question – as with the timing and content of the MEAL, and THE POST LUNCH WALK. At least it was when I was part of a nuclear family and we ate the MEAL at lunchtime. I have discovered that there are renegades and subversive elements in society who actually have the WALK before the MEAL.
Now I have to confess: for all the fact we will be out for lunch at the pub on Christmas Day itself, the new grouping of our no-longer-nuclear family means that we are hosting a traditional Christmas lunch and present-giving for the immediate family on 24 December. So you comment on my traditions at your peril – I know exactly what time the WALK will take place.