Home > Uncategorized > A Very (Un)British Christmas

A Very (Un)British Christmas

As of Friday, I am officially allowed to be in a Christmas mood. Except… I’ve been scouring the sites that ship in British food and assorted Christmassy items, and I find myself curiously indifferent. I looked first at the Mince Pies – really, overpriced. I can probably find some mincemeat somewhere around here and make my own (although that was a disaster last year. I still don’t get on with all-purpose flour). Then I looked at Christmas crackers. Again, rather overpriced, and for… what? For a paper hat and a corny little joke and a plastic screwdriver? One website helpfully listed all the “prizes,” and thoroughly put me off. They seem so fun, when everybody has them. Even the paper hats.

And then, of course, the Christmas cake. I need to spend some Christmas time with some fellow Brits. Nobody outside of the UK seems to like Christmas cake. Are we so very peculiar in our tastes? I had a beautiful, three-tiered wedding cake with a floral arrangement between each tier, for our English reception, and only discovered two weeks before our wedding (at my sister’s wedding, another story) that Marco, in common with his compatriots, really doesn’t like rich fruit cake. (Incidentally, the top tier of my wedding cake went on to be reincarnated as my family’s Christmas cake a year later. I got the last hurrah of cake the following February, by which time the cake had eighteen months’ vintage and was starting to get a little dry.) 

But Christmas cake, eaten alone, is really just a slab of dried fruit and alcohol with no raisin d’etre (sic). 

Even Cadbury’s 2012 advent calendar looks… hammy. 

Christmas cynicism brings out the worst puns. 

So maybe that’s it. It makes sense in the bright and garish lights of Regent Street, one-too-many mince pies and a re-run of the Vicar of Dibley or a dubiously scripted Doctor Who Christmas Special. When it’s Christmas with my family I can make believe, for a day or so, that I’m a kid again, that grownup taste has taken a well-deserved break and Charades is the most interesting way to pass a holiday afternoon. 

Like a house of Christmas cards, without that all-important family context it doesn’t really make much sense. 

So maybe I won’t try and replicate a British Christmas here. I’ll just enjoy what we’ve got here, I’ll buy a Christmas tree and decorate it with tinsel and baubles from Walmart and I’ll try and persuade people to go carol singing with me. And maybe work on my mince pies. Father Christmas will be glad of a mince pie, he’ll have travelled halfway around the world since he last had one. 

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