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Yet Another Christmas Dinner

By Ann Richardson January 01, 2019 Lifestyle

Christmas is now over. Are you already missing the joy or are you, like me, happy to see the end of it? There are a lot of us who feel Christmas is highly overrated.

We can now relax.

The Annual Christmas Meal

It is the women who always (well, almost always) do most of the work preparing a Christmas meal. And it is we, older women, who so often bear the brunt of the work as families tend to converge on us, if only because we have more space.

Some of us revel in it and do it with style. That’s great.

And some of us just do the best we can.

I long ago declared war on turkey – not the country – which is one of the most boring foods ever invented.

I have offered my family delicious chicken, boeuf bourguignonne (French beef stew with loads of red wine) and all sorts of other dishes in its place. Never mind tradition – is it enjoyable to eat?

A Christmas Tea

This year, my very thoughtful daughter suggested that instead of a major meal, we could do a Christmas tea instead. “Much less work for you,” she said. What an excellent idea.

We did a “high tea,” which is an English concept of a light meal served at tea time. In fact, we had smoked salmon, cold roast chicken, and a variety of salads, followed by brownies (a contribution from my daughter-in-law) and some bought pastries.

All served buffet style. It could be supplemented with tea or wine (or coca cola, for those so inclined). No trouble on the day and very little trouble altogether.

Perhaps I will make it a new tradition.


But the real problem with Christmas is families. However well-intentioned each person is to get on with the others, how many actually succeed? There is always someone who causes a problem – not necessarily the same person each year.

There is the uncle who drinks too much or the children who throw a tantrum about not getting the present they wanted. The assembled throng inevitably have different interests, not to mention political views. Sitting down together for a long meal often invites trouble.

I can’t tell you how many friends or neighbors admit, once the idea is proffered, that it is all a bit of a nightmare.

Perhaps, in contrast, your family really enjoy each other’s company. A long Christmas meal together is a real treat. You give wonderful presents. You sing carols. I wish you all the joy in the world.

I have rarely seen it, but what do I know?

Christmas and Christianity

Of course, Christmas is supposed to be a religious celebration. How many people even think about this these days? Perhaps more than I know about, since I am mostly surrounded by people who lost any tie to religion a long time ago.

The View from Outside

I often wonder what the proverbial visitor from Mars would think about our Christmases.

“Why do these people go through the same ritual year after year? With all the food to choose from, they eat dried out turkey and Brussels sprouts. Whatever their wish to diet, they eat too much beforehand, down too much desserts and chocolates, and inevitably drink too much alcohol.

“They buy each other unsuitable gifts, because they have no understanding of each other’s tastes or buy from a pre-set list so there is no surprise at all. They sit around after the meal, making small talk or watching television, until it is reasonable to go home.”

It is the source of wonder.

What does Christmas mean to you? Do you love it or are you happy to see the back of it? Did you have a good one this year? Please tell us your story in the comments below.

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The Author

Ann Richardson’s most popular book, The Granny Who Stands on Her Head, offers a series of reflections on growing older. Subscribe to her free Substack newsletter, where she writes fortnightly on any subject that captures her imagination. Ann lives in London, England with her husband of sixty years. Please visit her website for information on all her books:

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