Christmas Day

I have developed a couple of Christmas day rituals over the last few years, without which I would enjoy the day considerably less.

After breakfast and a shower, I make a cappuccino and take it upstairs to the Music Room to listen (and occasionally sing along) to Phil Spector’s ‘A Christmas Gift For You’. (I have that on a CD, but I shall try to get it on LP this year to see what my new cartridge makes of it.)

I stick a joint of beef and roast potatoes (never ever a tough bird) in the oven and go to my local pub for a couple of beers (non-alcoholic these days).

I watch the animation of Raymond Briggs’ ‘The Snowman’, which Channel 4 shows on Xmas Day every year, paying particular attention to the scenes of Brighton Pier (which is a few hundred yards from my house) as they fly over it to the North Pole and back.

The fun and games begin again a week later, when I tune the TV in to Vienna for the New Year’s Day concert to see (a) who is conducting and (b) how many wimmin have managed to bag an orchestral seat (I counted as many as eight a few years ago). Of course, we will never have Carlos Kleiber back, after the two best ever concerts in 1989 and 1992. I used to enter the ballot every year to get a ticket to sit in the Golden Hall, but I realised that I was wasting my time, so I gave that up.

Ah well, it all kicks off in a few weeks now.


Rituals are important. We like to have the 9 lessons and carols from Kings College on the TV on the 24th in the afternoon. There was a time when we would walk to the Cathedral for midnight mass, but as we got older, staying up that late seemed daft, so now we go to bed instead.

There is the obligatory argument with my sister in law (aka “that stupid woman”) on Christmas Day but fortunately Covid interfered with that.

We always give the Queen’s broadcast a miss, but maybe we will make an effort this year to see what His Majesty makes of it.

We do like to fit in a screening of National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation if we can. We love the way it spirals from normal to ridiculous and then to totally absurd without anyone getting too cross.


I’ll spend most of my time here:

Rehearsal with trumpets, choir etc… staying late on Xmas eve, drink wine and not entirely recovered do the xmas day services too.

Then collapse :slight_smile:


Avoiding the telly is a ritual here.

We host SWMBO’s parentals.

This year I have the Complete Reprise Studio Recordings of Frank Sinatra lined up.

SWMBO likes low volume Christmas music whilst the table is prepared and we eat. A bit of Peggy Lee perhaps (“Ultimate Christmas”)


‘Fairytale of New York’ played several times at some point. The highlight of our almost always rubbish Xmas.

When is it anyway?



Music: Bach’s Christmas Oratorio.
Movies: (Terry Pratchett’s) Hogfather, and The Muppet’s Christmas Carol.

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This is the second Christmas I will be without very problematic relatives that used to pretty much destroy my day. Im starting to get my sanity back and be the father to my boys more, rather than be the ever patient son to my father.
Dont mean to drag the thread, apologies. Things at Christmas hopefully now can be more relaxed for me and therefore relaxed for my wife and sons.
Looking forward to it…something I never used to say.


While I’m still working ( if I retire in a few years I assume this will change!), Christmas to the New Year is the one time of the year that I usually don’t get called for some urgent last minute things that others forgot to do. Sometimes (but no longer now) that got impacted by working with Russia, because Christmas there was in January, but by and large this is the only time of year that stops the emails and phone calls. So for me it is sacrosanct and I want nothing more than to spend it with my immediate family, brother, sister and their families. As all our children get older, inevitably they will pull away, I suppose.

To me it doesn’t feel like Christmas unless I’ve heard Slade, Mike Oldfield’s ‘in Dulci Jubilo’ and the Pogues. Reminders of childhood, being younger and great tunes in their own right. I will quietly listen to carols from King’s at some point, or from Magdalen College Oxford on the run up to the big day.

My favourite day is Christmas Eve, culminating in Midnight Mass. As I get older I find I appreciate ever more the serenity, community and opportunity to sing during collective worship that was there growing up, and listen to choral music, including that from the Orthodox Churches to the East, which I find very moving.

Christmas Eve is also the last time that the possibility of Christmas Day itself not being a bust and over too quickly, is still possible. The one thing I would like to do on Christmas Day itself is to watch the King’s speech. I usually do so later on, by myself. My wife would like to watch it too, but is always too busy.

I share the desire to watch the Muppet Christmas Carol, and indeed a bunch of old movies if I can track them down. Anything with John Gregson, James Robertson Justice, Michael Caine, Kenneth More, Dirk Bogarde, Sid James etc.


I will ignore the day entirely if given the opportunity. Unfortunately friends and family keep inviting me over to their celebrations. As a veggie Xmas food is really not that appealing. I would much rather stay at home, cook something I want to eat, enjoy it with maybe with a glass or two of wine and make arrangements to meet up on another day over the festering season. Plus I get to listen to my choice of music and maybe watch a bit of TV or a film that I have recorded when I want.

I remember several years back when I was still working, that I spent Xmas day decorating the dining room and had people around to christen it on NYE for a meal. These days I am normally in bed before midnight and see no reason to stay up.

In fact, Xmas and NYE in lockdown were perfect for me as I didn’t have to tell people no to invites. For those who enjoy the festive stuff and all that it entails I hope you have a lovely time doing what you do, I know I will enjoy my introverts version of the events.


Blimey. You’ve all started early.
You have even beaten John Lewis and their Christmas Advertisment.

I have a festive non involvement pact with my daughter.


Hoping you will be at home, long before Christmas …

The rituals for me are

  1. A vegetarian Christmas Eve
    2 Everything must be prepped , ready for the service from Kings
    3 Followed by Patrick Stewart’s Christmas Carol (yes I watch it every year at this time)
    4 On the day itself usually church at ten , with the Christmas lunch being starter, roast pork, and home made Christmas Pudding
    5 First time ever, The King , followed by the finals of Masterchef, The Professionals and Countdown


I have full empathy for your views , I have a neighbour who like me is single, in reality following a bad car accident -he isn’t that capable of looking after himself and I end up stuck with him.

One year I had a very heavy cold , I took him to the doctors, bought him and me steaks , and said he was on his own. I was so down with the cold I didn’t see the ambulance arrive and take him away.

Just me, the cat and my cold.

No faffing with OTT meals, a bottle of something very nice came down from upstairs and I had the day to myself. Best Christmas in years


At 6 after a long day at work on Christmas Eve, straight to Kings Cross and up to Newcastle for a Geordie Yule. Then to Leeds. Then back to work day after Boxing Day for the sales.

No A Jack Jones Christmas album for me this year :cry:

A contradiction in terms? At least, I’ve tried a number of non-alcoholic beverages described as beer, but none tasted remotely like the product made from malted and fermented cereal with added hops… Why go to the pub on Christmas Day for such a concoction? (I ask never having even thought of going to a pub myself on Christmas Day).

And forgive me if it is an insensitive question, but no family oriented things?

I don’t have any Christmas Day rituals as such, but the time is family oriented, either just my wife and our two sons, or wider family either entertained by us, or the other way round. Being a foodie family much revolves around a main meal, but turkey never features. If wider family often two meats feature, giving a choice, or both. It might be a particularly good joint of beef, better still, venison. Or any one of a number of birds, from guinea fowl to goose, and chicken may feature if there’s a second meat. Dinner though not until maybe late afternoon - earlier than our normal dinner, but not as early as lunchtime. Alcohol would normally be wine, but nothing other than possibly an aperitif shortly before dinner. I love Christmas Pudding, but no-one else is bothered, and it normally waits a day or two to avoid over-eating.

The day otherwise could be a mix of anything from giving/receiving gifts, particularly when young children are around, a film or two, playing family games, etc.

One thing some nieces-in-law started doing a few years ago, which we have experienced when at their house and I am tempted to copy, is the children (the nieces, now in their 30s), but it started a out 10 years ago, give their parents ‘stockings’ - and then the parents started to do the same, having abandoned the traditional stocking some 10 years earlier. Gifts are of negligible value, but much thought is put into suitability - with an eye for a good laugh more than seriousness, but presents actually having a use. E.g. Father is always saying he he doesn’t have enough time - so one year they gave him a catering size pack of thyme, and when he opened it they said: “now you can’t say you’re short of time”.

Re family time, when we were working, and now our sons are working, and far off family are not met with often enough, the excuse of Christmas to make time to enjoy each others’ company to the exclusiin of other distractions is something I think we all welcome.

Meanwhile back to Christmas rituals: one I do have, but not on Xmas Day, is to have a Polish style Chrystmas Eve supper. We never manage to rustle up 12 courses, and do have wine with it, but it is so ething I grew up with and love to continue. And when it is just the four of us as immediate family, we exchange gifts that evening after the meal.

I have to confess to never having watched the Queen’s Christmas message live, just seen it on the news later, and an absolute no-no is any TV soap trash . Many years ago we used to watch the Bond film, but it is a long time since that was a regular broadcast, and occasionally a special of some series or other that we liked, but these days with catch-up capability that sort of thing waits until some days later. I was brought up going to Midnight Mass (which in those days was at midnight). I don’t these days, and certainly wouldn’t if it was before midnight as apparently has become the norm in many places.

I really don’t think to much about Christmas Day and have no prescribed rituals.

Right now it is paying attention to the last day of October and the 30 fantastic days of November that are coming up! No need to be future tripping…

Besides everyday is Christmas! …or anything else you choose it to be.


I would dearly love to have a proper pint of beer - Fuller’s ESB would be my choice - or, at least, it always used to be. And a lovely bottle of claret, ideally Chateau Batailley (imported from France by El Vinos wine merchants in Fleet Street, London, just down the road from where I used to work for over 30 years.

Problem is that I liked the stuff rather too much and I was well on the way to killing myself with it. I was given a stark choice by doctors, and I chose life over booze. I want to give myself the chance of seeing my granddaughter grow up and make her way in life.

Alcohol has played no part in my life for a few years now, but in normal times I go to my favourite pub every day. I just don’t drink alcohol. So nothing has changed, but everything has changed.

I would love to see family, but I don’t think that I’ll manage that this time. I’m just doing what I can to get out of the wretched care home where I’m incarcerated at present, If I’m home for Christmas, that will be a considerable improvement over the clucking place where I am as I write this. Anything on top will be a bonus, but I’m not counting on anything at the moment.


Goodness me, was he okay?

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Miss Mike ensures an early start to the day, and it’s mid summer here, so that is really early! A cup of tea in bed followed by presents then a BBQ breakfast is the usual ritual. A glass of bubbles if we are feeling cheeky.

Wider family needs ensures endless organizing of who is going where and when, all of which I avoid any involvement in. This year we have the MIL for the first Christmas on her own, she will sleep over. One brother and his wife are her staying at my mums, so will fit them in somehow as well. Then my second brother will also be here with family between Xmas and New Year and that will be the first time all the brothers and mum have been together in 6 years.

New Years Eve is when we just have ourselves for a celebration of surviving another year.

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Yes, he survived - my guess is the underlying cause was hypothermia , he was duly carted off again last year and didn’t come back for nearly two months.

He has four adult children , one at university , they never come to see him , despite being on benefits he supports the oik at university ( there is a global shortage of philosophers ) , the house gets little heating .

Anyway , he comes round on Christmas :santa: Day , and I feed him .

Probably the best meal he gets all year


Hi Graham, sorry to hear re alcohol, but fully understood. It is a pity they can’t de-alcoholise beer and retain the taste. Lager fares better than ales - probably because it has so little taste in the first place! A good, hoppy real ale is something that would make a great drink without the adverse effects/risks of alcohol.

Regarding family, I hadn’t realised you’d been in a care home so long that separation from family had led to your normal ritual omitting them. I hope your periodic mention of hoping to be able to return home soon comes true and that your life can return to greater normality, maybe even in time for this Christmas. Best wishes, IB

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