As Christmas 2013 draws to a close, it must be said that I have plenty to be thankful for: my family are in fine health, I am generally happy, plus I got One Direction's calendar for the upcoming year. However, as the inevitable Christmas Day argument ensued, I began to ponder other annual occurrences that most families experience specifically during the festive season. I hasten to add that I am not the Grinch, however, I have devised a list of the most overrated British Christmas traditions.
1) Writing Christmas Cards
Although clearly not exclusively British, writing Christmas cards is excruciating, even in the best of moods. Trying to remember what you and your family have done over the past year can be a task in itself, but what if you haven't done all that much? We all know that, in essence, Christmas cards are often a vehicle for boasting about the achievements of your family, so the eternal challenge is trying to embellish getting a new dog or passing a driving test. This, paired with the inescapable mission of trying to post the cards in time for Christmas delivery, adds to the irritation of the festive season.
2) Receiving Christmas Cards
Arguably worse than trying to devise your own interesting Christmas card is reading those that others have sent to you. Admittedly, it is always lovely to hear how your favourite Aunt is doing, and that she wishes you a happy Christmas. However, the bone of contention comes when the card is from distant friends and family. You remember that one cousin twice-removed you once met at a family wedding when she was a toddler? She's now doing her GCSEs. Great. To add insult to injury, there is the fact that many Christmas cards we receive have incredibly impersonal mass-printed scripts of the vastly exaggerated (see point above) achievements of that family. The initial feigned interest soon fades, and the script usually finds itself atop the microwave until mid-January, when it is deservedly thrown out.
3) Christmas Crackers
Surely I am not the only one who thinks Christmas Crackers are overrated? The noise, the mess, the overall pointlessness of the things! There are only so many shoehorns, 9-piece jigsaw puzzles, and tiny-notepads-too-small-to-write-anything-on that a household needs. Plus, can anyone really pull off the tissue-paper crown?
4) Hoping for a White Christmas
My Mum said to me today: 'I wish it had been a white Christmas.' Why? It was 12 degrees, so there was no rush to turn the heating up, there were no complaints about ice on the roads, and, most importantly, my Dad could watch his Top Gear DVD in peace knowing that he wouldn't have to shovel snow off the drive. Admittedly, this Christmas didn't feel especially Christmassy largely due to the fact that it was warm enough to walk around in a t-shirt and jeans. However, the knowledge that in August it could very feasibly be the same temperature as now made me all the more grateful for not having to pile on three extra layers and some rather unattractive snow-boots just to venture outside.
5) Buying Male Family Members Socks
It seems to be a reflex that the first idea when trying to think of Christmas presents for Dad is socks. Perhaps it is engrained in the female psyche that it is our Christmas duty to buy socks for our male equivalents. Perhaps it is the knowledge that if we didn't get them some new socks for Christmas, they would inevitably wear the old, hole-ridden pair they got last year. Either way, you will never witness a more disappointed face than when a man is expecting a proper, expensive Christmas present, and finds he has received yet another pair of M&S cotton socks.
6) Brussels Sprouts
More specifically: Dads and Brussels sprouts. Enough said.