01 Dec Christmas and I.
How are you feeling about it ‘all’? It can be a conflictive time, rarely straightforward or easy. Keep that in your heart locket and then add two years of the ins-and-outs and the unexpected fears of a global pandemic. It’s ok if Christmas will never feel quite so festive again. If it ever did.
I sound morose. I actually love Christmas.
As long as I can avoid the John Lewis, the Primark, the Starbucks and the Amazon.
Give me the silliness, the excuse to make every encounter a celebration, stirring sunday, christmas markets, extra cheese everywhere.
Give me foraging (responsibly) for foliage and branches because, what is the point in vintage decorations when your co-habiters are under 35 years old.
My early memories of Christmas include a tartan dress and shiny blue shoes when living with my grandmother in Scotland.
A few years later, racing out of bed, age nine, stripping my pyjamas off in excitement, and sitting beneath the tree with no clothes on all morning, revelling in Hawaiian Barbie and a selection box.
As I grew older and we moved to Barcelona, Christmas became about reconnecting with family friends in Japan, UK and New York. We would convene in our tunnel Barcelona apartment, stretch out trestle tables, eat and drink food made by my chef aunt Ishbel and queen of Japanese cuisine Keiko. I now look back and realise how glorious it was to be sat at a table full of adults in celebratory moods, who would entertain my obsessive questions about whether vampires exist. All accompanied by sushi rice balls and perfectly peeled tomatoes.
Jon and I grew up in very different families, with very different traditions across different countries.
Yet we meet somewhere in the middle, with a varied sprinkle of Noche Buena, Los Reyes, ‘Peter’s Friends’ and Richard Curtis. And let’s be honest, The Royle Family.
I’ve had several Christmases as an adult, each marked by the house I stayed in or the person I spent it with.
Several absinthe-lit days with friends in an ex-council house in Manchester, one in a ridiculously twee Bakewell, another outside the Oxford road Spar buying a Walnut Whip for everyone in the pub. A couple where I cared for neighbour’s cats, the first time I locked myself out after the first day and the second time when I didn’t notice she had eaten one of her kittens.
Other lovely ones, which generally make less interesting anecdotes.
And back to now.
We live on a no-through street, and since lockdown, we take a day in the lead up to Christmas we each take a day to dress a window. And today is our day. Last year we covered the windowsill with logs and layers of moss, then framed the glass with lengths of holly and fairy lights. The boys chose a dinosaur, a scuba diver, a chicken, some ducks and a toy cabin for a forest scene.
This year I’m thinking of chocolate coins, candles and antique shop scales.…. We’ll see what comes together, it’s always last minute and improvised.
We won’t be putting up our tree until the 11th (from Rooted Christmas Trees, we hired from them last year, they took it away in January, replanted it, and will then drop the same one off again this year), so a window advent feels like the perfect way to mark the beginning of the season.
And on Saturday we’re having a festive lunch with friends, cramming us all into our kitchen with an extra trestle table and chairs borrowed from the neighbours. Jon’s in charge of the spuds and I’m in charge of the table dressing. The linen may or may not be ironed.
An imperfect Christmas, always the warmest.
Love Java x