That’s it. Come in and sit by the fire. We feel duty bound to light one because it’s Christmas, despite the fact that it’s now so warm that we have to leave the windows open and the cat is sleeping out on the roof. I wouldn’t go too close, it’ll melt the toes off your slippers. And do have a sherry. Nobody really likes it, but we always have a bottle in, you know, for Christmas...
After the third glass it becomes a lot more palatable, honestly, and by the time you can’t focus on the label, it’s really quite nice. I’ll just pour myself another one and put the mince pies on the table, if I can find room, what with the Christmas centrepiece made by the children when they were at primary school, which is 90 per cent plaster of Paris and 10 per cent twig, but we always have it on the table at this time of year.
To tell the truth, I’m not all that keen on mince pies, either. I make some, every year, mostly for the smell – there’s something very festive about the aroma of boiling sugar and heavy duty oven cleaner.
Nobody actually eats them, of course, we keep them until New Year and then throw them out for the birds, who have learned to duck and now spend most of the first two weeks of January running around in a kind of crouch, to avoid the leftovers because, it turns out, even sparrows won’t eat sprouts.
Seriously, what is it about Christmas that makes us cook food that nobody likes, put up decorations that contravene health and safety regulations even in places that don’t have health and safety regulations and throw logs onto fires that are unnecessary to the point of making the carpet go crispy?
Have another sherry. Somehow you get used to the taste, don’t you? And even sprouts are edible when they’re disguised by some gravy, and the mince pies can be covered in cream or brandy butter.
The fire comes into its own when it gets dark and the curtains are drawn to shut out the night, and, yes, all right, the table centrepiece is still going to be a big lump of white flaky stuff with random sticks in, there’s not much I can do about that, but it’s our traditional big lump of white stuff.
There’s a comfort in everything being the same as it was last year, that, although some things in life may have changed, the inedible mince pies and the big lump of flaky white stuff will go on reappearing.
So let’s all raise a glass of the sherry we don’t much like in a toast to the continuance of tradition; the terrible sprouts, the mince pies that glue themselves to the tin, the smell of singeing carpet-nylon and the millions of indeterminately-shaped table centrepieces all over the country. After all, without them, it just wouldn’t be Christmas, would it?
Jane Lovering is an award winning romantic comedy writer published by Choc Lit.