So far I have flatly refused to write anything about Christmas, despite the fact that Christmas lights have been sprouting about my home town since the first week of November. November isn’t Christmas month, it is birthday month, my own that is and so Christmas has no business butting in on my month.
Today though, this here the first day of December, Christmas month has officially been launched and to mark the event I am here posting the ten things I am most looking forward to over the coming thirty days while Frank Sinatra is putting me in the mood with his collection of Christmas carols.
- Christmas decorations. Despite this being a back-breaking chore I do love setting up the house for the festivities. I love decorations; the red and gold bows, mistletoe and holly garlands, silver candle sticks and tea-candles in water bowls. I decorate the house two weeks before Christmas. I put on carols in the background and sing away to the mortification of those around me. What I hate are the mini-Santas that hang over balconies. I don’t know about other countries, but on the tiny rock where I live, over the past five years the mini-Santas have spawned like mushrooms, hanging from balconies in cheesy postures. My boyfriend and I have gone into this annoying habit of counting them as we drive around. Last year we counted twenty-four in a single street, a quarter of a kilometre long (but that is another story in itself and will be posted soon). Disgusting!
- Buying gifts. Yes, I did mean buying. I love to walk into a store and look around until my eyes fall on something that completely reminds me of someone in particular and then I have to buy that object and give it to that person to see what they think. Hilarious!
- Opening presents. I am human so naturally I enjoy receiving gifts. Although it is not the gift per se that I enjoy but the unwrapping of it. The anticipation, the excitement, the curiosity, the hope that one day they’ll get it right. I have strange taste, very personal and very sporadic. I pity whoever is assigned with the task of buying something for me. You can never know – I never know – what might catch my fancy. Moreover I have a very honest and expressive face. No matter how much I try, people always know when I am faking it. My boyfriend, poor soul is not an imaginative being and he visibly breaks into a sweat whenever a birthday/anniversary or Christmas comes up. That does not mean that I let him off easily. I love surprises and I am optimistic; one day he’ll get it. Eventually!
- Christmas parties at the office. Christmas Eve is not a holiday in my country, and so on the 24th you’ll find me at the office. It’s a good day though. At noon we switch off our PCs open wine bottles, buy nibbles and have a party. Happens every year; granted permission from higher management or not. It’s incredible how friendly the senior manager gets with a drop of alcohol in his head. Yippy!
- The smell of cinnamon in the house. Over ten years ago I got the recipe for Lebkuchen from my German pen-friend, pre-internet era. Since then, as an annual rule, my mother bakes these little brown goodies especially for Christmas. We soak them in English tea or dip them in blue cheese. Try it. Delicious!
- Midnight mass. This is something I have missed since I started dating the Grinch. I don’t know why I bother really, I always manage to sleep throughout the whole thing. Last time I went, the church was packed, as always on this day, and another row of chairs was added to the benches in the middle of the aisle. I was sitting on one of these chairs, at the centre of the church. After the first hymn was sung and we sat down, I planted my face firmly in my hands and slept peacefully until the congregation disturbed me as they filed around me for communion. Embarrassing!
- Christmas concert. I have conceded relinquishing midnight mass as long as he lets me drag him along to the annual concert by the National Philharmonic Orchestra. I come from a musical family, it does not make me musical though, but I love this concert. Every year I go with the hope that they’ll play Carol of the Bells. Listening to that song live is breath-taking. Magical!
- Drinking mulled wine. The feeling of being warmed to the core while becoming ever-more tipsier and happier with every gulp of the hot, aromatic liquid. Mmmmmm!
- Cold. When you live so close to the equator the seasons are really guidelines rather than actual acts of nature; snow is just something mythical like flying reindeer or an old man that flies around the whole world and delivers presents in one night. Real cold does not start until the middle of January, and then it only lasts until the end of February. Although it does happen sometimes, on one-off years, where it is actually cold over Christmas, and that just puts me deeper in the spirit. This year it happened. Last Thursday, 29th day of November, the cold officially started. Fine, the temperature is still hovering stubbornly above the 10 Degrees Celsius but one still requires a jacket to go outside. Chilly!
- Christmas lunch with the family. Sitting with the extended family for two whole hours while gorging ourselves on all kinds of bird meat; followed by a chocolate gateau which my mother makes to perfection, then Christmas cake and log, then coconut balls and coffee, then a creamy liquor which I make sure to buy during the year (this year I found a pistachio flavoured liquor from Sicily – can’t wait!). Then the chocolates hidden in the tree come next. I started this tradition a couple of years back. My cousins were still young and I hid chocolates in the tree for them to treasure hunt after dinner. On the first year they loved it. Five years on, now all grown up, they still do. Only they don’t really like the chase as much as they used to. Last year the five giants rushed at the tree at my go-ahead and shook it until all the chocolates dropped, along with the balls, and the bows, and the angels, and the tinsel. Mess!
What I am not looking forward to is:
- Putting down the decorations after the New Year. It fills me with such sadness and void.
- Working off the carbs after all that mindless belly stuffing.
- Having nothing to look forward to for months – I am not a St. Valentine’s Day person so I don’t even have that.
- Getting back to work after my time off is over. Depressing!