Christmas is so rooted in tradition – from the hour at which you open your presents, to the length of time you’re expected to wear your paper hat – that it can be hard to believe that other people might do it differently.
Ask a person how they spend Christmas day – the booze fuelled games of Pictionary, the collective afternoon nap – and notice that no matter what they say, you remain silently sure that you and your troupe are still the Kings and Queens of Christmas.
Allow me to demonstrate. I’ll tell you how I spend Christmas day and, as you read, notice how each sentence makes you more and more confident that your way is better. Don’t worry, I won’t be offended.
These are opened between 9 and 10am in our house (after a quick reminder from mum that “If we don’t get up now, it won’t be worth bothering!”). Our stockings are made up of a combination of items that mum has purchased in the January sales. She’s no fool our mum, she knows that if she’s going to fill a giant sock with items that are actually worth having without having to remortgage the house, she’s going to have to think outside the yuletide box. There is something heart-warming about revealing a bottle of mango flavour body lotion or a box of notelets shaped like a disco ball that you know have been in your mum’s cupboard for a full eleven months on Christmas morning.
We like to have at least two arguments on Christmas day. They don’t last long, but Christmas isn’t Christmas without some kind of momentary rage, though the contents of our moans have changed as we’ve grown up. Whereas previously we’d start the day with: “Muuum! Nick won’t get up for stockiiings! Will you tell him?! HE’S RUINING MY DAY!” Now it’s: “Charlotte, stop putting make-up on your haggard face and come down for presents, you NOB.” As we have matured, so too have our fights.
For some reason we are always running late on Christmas day. Breakfast is therefore not the smoked salmon and bucks fizz extravaganza that Marks and Spencer suggests it should be, but a panicked guzzling of toast or half-cooked boiled eggs before clearing the kitchen so that mum can make a start on “that bastard turkey”. The lunch itself is always very nice, though eaten to the soundtrack of my mum swearing that next year we’re just having frozen lasagne and declaring that we can “just sort ourselves out” for the rest of the day. This is fine by us as it means we can get away with eating more Pringles, cheese and Cadbury’s Miniature Heroes than we’d ever be allowed the rest of the year.
Since the days of waking up at 4 o’clock in the morning on Christmas day, desperate to open all our gifts at once are now far behind us (if I do wake up at that time it’s because I need the toilet or have forgotten to wrap something), we are now able to wait until after lunch to open our gifts. My younger brother doles them out, adding an element of danger to proceedings by reading each label and then hurling the gift at the recipient. The prize for catching yours first time is the respect of the family and a fully intact present.
5. The Quiz
Always a bright boy, my younger brother noticed at an early age that Christmas day evening can be extremely dull. With no more presents to look forward to, or crackers to be pulled, it’s only the promise of a cold meat sandwich that keeps us from our beds. And so, his annual quiz was born. This event has grown from a list of general knowledge questions he wrote at the age of 12, to a two-hour, multimedia spectacular that the now 24-year-old spends three days preparing in the interest of our festive amusement. It’s got a film round, a music round and an intimidating ‘individual questions’ round, and sees us battle into the late hours until my team inevitably wins. No need for a telly in our house, we’ve got the sound of family members shouting “Cheat!” and “But I couldn’t see the screen because Charlotte’s massive head was in the way!” to keep us entertained until bedtime.
Best day ever, right!
No? Still prefer your way? I thought you might say that.
Let’s just agree to disagree.