Nov. 28th, 2004

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I get the strangest feeling that Boxing Day is upon us...and that can't be right. Hell, we haven't even waved goodbye to Saint Nick (we've hardly said hello), and yet, riding on the bus today, I saw this year's first Xmas tree all sparkly and twinkling away in someone's window.

Ah! but they don't make Xmasses like they used to. Or rather, I don't make Xmasses like my Mum did when we were little. I wonder how she managed it? Work, a family...and yet she never got caught out failing to prepare Xmas dinner. Granted, there was that time when the chestnut pudding hadn't set and ran and dripped all over the table and chairs, and that other time when she'd served a cow's tongue and no one would eat it (ewww, just remembering that spectacle makes me shudder), but on the whole, and year after year, between Xmas and the New Year, our house would smell of pine needles and cookies; the rooms would be festooned with holly and other types of evergreen, and Bing Crosby would dream of a white Xmas for bloody ever. The table would be laid with her own hand-embroidered Xmassy tablecloth and napkins, the best china and crystal, and between the candles and table pieces she'd serve that year's roast (or goose or venison or boar) with great aplomb and not a small measure of pride. It was also her job to get the tree in, up and decorated (although my sister and I helped of course, mostly by stuffing our faces with the edible decorations that she'd just put in), and wrap and arrange all the presents to their best advantage. And I remember that I used to think that I would do it just the same as her when I grew up and left home.

I never did. I tried, but once you've had turkey for breakfast, lunch and dinner for a week, you sort of lose the incentive to do it ever again. Wrapping your own presents isn't much fun, either; and you'll only set up a Xmas tree full of artsy glass decorations from Harrods' once when you share your quarters with several young and rowdy kittens. So my Xmasses have mostly been treeless (I tried the plastic kind once; that got me so depressed) and while I may snack on duckbreast filet when at home, I usually spend the holidays somewhere else; I've never yet had a goose in my oven. And as to all the baking and decorating: I wouldn't know where to find the time.

Oh dear, it sounds like I'm getting all maudlin! I'm not. There's nothing wrong with the way I celebrate Xmas -I go to church, I am with friends, I drink more wine than is good for me- but I'm just saying: some way, somehow, it was better in the old days.

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