… alright, it’s a bit about the food. Obviously the food is great. Christmas dinner is the feast we look forward to all year; no other holiday is celebrated with a meal to quite the same extent (at least here in the UK).
But when you strip it all back and look at it in the cold light of day, once all the pigs in blankets are eaten and the last cork top is swept away, it’s not all that different to what we eat through the rest of the year. Plenty of us enjoy a roast dinner every Sunday and I, for one, don’t need a fancy public holiday to spend a night on the prosecco.
At the end of the day, it’s really not about what you’re eating because, let’s be honest, we just use Christmas as a free pass to tuck into all the things we feel too guilty to indulge in the rest of the year. I’d say about 90% of it really isn’t all that special. What makes it special is the people.
On Friday, we went to a friend’s house so a bunch of us could all meet up before the big day and have a pre-Christmas dinner – like a warm up for the real thing, I suppose. My lovely vegetarian friend very thoughtfully cooked a roast gammon for the rest of us carnivores along with all the trimmings – home made Yorkshire puddings, bread sauce, a mountain of veggies, followed by a Yule log and custard (which sparked a lively debate about whether custard, when accompanying a pudding, is enjoyed hot or cold – it’s hot, right?!?!). We had Bucks Fizz, we had Christmas music, we had festive decs, the whole shebang.
Don’t get me wrong, the food was delicious. But it wasn’t really “about” the food, you know? It was about how it brought all of us together – considering we don’t all live in the same town like we did when we were kids, that’s a hell of a lot harder these days – at the most harmonious, cheerful, heart-warming time of year. We spent about half an hour or so actually eating, but we stayed for the best part of four hours and spent the rest of that time talking, drinking and just generally having a laugh.
It makes you realise, whether it’s at a pre-Christmas get-together, around the dinner table pulling crackers on Christmas Day, or scoffing leftovers on Boxing Day, that even though the entire festive period seems centred around food, it’s not. Not really. It’s about who you share it with.