Coming from South Africa where Christmas, more often than not, involves a barbecue next to the swimming pool and thirty degree temperatures, I’m sure it comes as no surprise that I love the idea of a traditional, white, English Christmas. What I did not realise though is that their enthusiasm for all things Christmassy can lead to the Brits going a little overboard during the holiday season resulting in some serious festive faux pax. The following are my top four so far.
Festive faux pas No. 1: While recently breezing through my local supermarket my eye was caught by their latest soup-in-a-tub. It was evocatively named ‘Christmas lunch’ and according to the ingredient list contained turkey, pork sausages, stuffing, broccoli, cabbage, carrots, parsnips, roast potatoes and everything else you might expect to find on your plate come Christmas Day. So essentially, after slaving away for hours over a hot stove to create the perfect Christmas meal, someone suggested putting the results of all that hard work into a blender and pushing ‘pulse’….
I can only imagine that this novel notion originated during the wee hours of the supermarket’s annual Christmas party, because for that idea to have sounded sufficiently appealing to the point where it was actually implemented, there had to have been alcohol involved. Lots of alcohol.
I naturally had to try the festive-lunch-in-a-tub and I’m sorry to report that what could have been a delicious meal looked like grey, greasy dishwater with lumps of stuffing floating in it.
And it tasted like cabbage.
So, sorry local supermarket, but this year I’ll be sticking with the traditional, solid version of the festive meal but I’ll certainly keep the Christmas-lunch-in-a-tub idea in mind for a future in which I have lost all my teeth. And hopefully my taste buds.
Festive faux pas No.2 involved her school sending Miss S home with a letter informing parents that all children would be allowed to wear party clothes to school on the day of the annual Christmas party. Of course, to a seven-year old ‘allowed to wear‘ translates as ‘must wear’ so this festive faux pas involved me losing an argument I was never going to win anyway followed by a trip to the Mall ten days before Christmas to trawl through the shops in search of a young girl’s party dress that didn’t scream kitsch.
And they all screamed kitsch.
And shed sequins faster than a budgie moulting in spring.
We finally found one that was acceptable to both of us (navy-blue velvet, no sequins) and I was looking forward to heading home for a much needed cup of Early Grey when I discovered that my frequent monologues on The Art of Accessorising an Outfit have apparently fallen on far more fertile ground than I could have ever hoped for.
After fighting our way through a few more stores the navy-blue velvet dress was finally set off to perfection by navy tights, red shoes sufficiently sparkly to transport Dorothy home with a single click of the heels and a white, faux-fur bolero – explain to me again why winter party dresses always have short sleeves? Thankfully though I managed to talk Miss S down from the tacky tiara that was shedding fake jewels faster than the dresses were shedding sequins.
We finally had an outfit fit for a princess and could return home for that desperately needed cup of Early Grey. And how many times will this fabulous ensemble see the light of day? Exactly once. Remind me to send the school a thank-you note for ‘allowing‘ my child to wear party clothes to school.
Festive faux pas No 3 ensued when I assumed that our new kitten would ignore the Christmas tree. Big mistake. Huge, in fact. Thankfully said kitten was at the vets when we decorated the tree so we got through that part of the festive tradition in peace but once she arrived home her eyes lit up with ‘For me?!’ appreciation and that was the beginning of the end. She started out small, batting the baubles hanging temptingly from the lowest branches until one came loose and was chased around the house until finally being cornered in the cloakroom. As so she took apart the tree, one bauble at a time. For some reason most of them ended up in the cloakroom – maybe there is a slight tilt to the house that I need to worry about? – while the tinsel ended up a chewed and soggy mess under the dining table. She undoubtedly swallowed copious amounts of glitter during this period of merry destruction so the next thing to which I can look forward is glittery poop in her litter box. Maybe it will act as guiding lights for Santa and his reindeer on Christmas Eve.
Festive faux pas No. 4 was buying Mr. S a remote-controlled drone as an early Christmas present. This little stealth-bomber wannabe contains a camera which live-streams video back to the iPad used to steer it, so that the person flying it can see what the drone sees. Truly a toy to gladden any man’s heart.
Unfortunately, the fashionably short buzz cuts that my indoor plants now model testify to the fact that Mr. S’s first few attempts to fly his new aircraft lacked panache. However, he did get the hang of it eventually and I was able to empty the last of the shredded leaves and chrysanthemum petals into the bin. My plants weren’t the only things to suffer while Mr. S mastered the art of steering. Our cats now have an alarming tendency to abandon ship as soon as the drone gets taken out for a spin – furry, felines fluidly fleeing out of every window as the drone buzzes happily after them. Roll on summer when Mr. S can take it outside, although that may open up a whole new can of worms if the neighbours ever realise that the aircraft hovering above their trees contains a live-streaming video camera.