Tuesday, 15 December 2020

Christmas alone can be perfect!

Another oldie from my Christmas archive. This one was written in 2002, when I lived in a farmhouse near Killala, Co. Mayo, and felt very happy to be spending Christmas on my own...

It’s the look in their eyes that gets me. They’ve asked you what you’re going to do for Christmas, and you’ve said you don’t know. You might go to friends, but you might just stay in and do it on your own.

Then there’s the look. The staring-down-the-nose dewey-eyed you-don’t really-know-what you’re-saying-do-you-you-poor-sad-lonely-little-loser look. 

Drives me crazy every time.

Of course it is tragic that some people will be lonely and alone on Christmas Day.
 
But the time has come for me to stand up and be counted, on behalf of the multitude out here who will be alone and doing just fine, thanks very much.
 
Well, I wanted to be counted but there’s just me, so I’ll do it myself: one.

One person who will wake up when he wants to on Christmas morning. It’s a special day, so I’ll make sure to leave a few cards and pressies to open, at my leisure, whilst lying in bed.

Then I’ll take a wonderfully peaceful walk along a deserted beach and return home to build a massive fire. 
 
Once the coal is crackling and hissing in the hearth, I’ll phone my family back in London, and chat to my nieces, sister, brother and parents as the phone is passed around their living room. Once again, I’ll reassure my folks that I am fine and happy.

Time to have a little snifter. Crack open the Jameson 12, feel the dark chewy whiskey flowing all over my far-flung bodily extremities, warming my heart while cheering my soul.

Now it really feels like Christmas: time to play some music. I’m partial to the Vienna Boys Choir on Christmas morning (and they speak very highly of me too!), but I might just be tempted by my very dodgy ‘The Chieftains - The Bells of Dublin’ Christmas album.

Shocking behaviour.

I’ll play my music as loud as I want to, very probably do a silly little dance and nobody will complain or mock my natural sense of rhythm.

Time to warm up the oven, but what does a man cook to eat on his own for Christmas dinner? Well, exactly whatever he feels like, to be eaten whenever he wants.
 
All I know for sure at this moment is that the meal will consist solely of the most magnificently self-indulgent ingredients. 
 
Possibly a roast shank of lamb, larded with garlic, wrapped in rosemary and honey; crispy roast shpuds; steamed carrots and leeks; a braised onion and a sweet roasted parsnip.

Sound good? 
Oh, you don’t care for lamb? 
 
I don’t care. 
I’m cooking for one.

Such a feast requires a splendid bottle of French red, perchance a Grand Cru of velvet depth and sublime body - much like myself!

As the smells of the roasting meat inveigle their way around the house, I’ll make a few more phone calls, spreading love and good wishes to my friends, scattered around the globe.

Then it’s out the door, and up to visit the landlord farmer and his wife, drop off a bottle of whiskey and a message of thanks to them for housing me in such a happy home.

Oh, and donkeys celebrate Christmas too, so the usual carrots are out, and today it’s nothing but choccy biccies and Golden Delicious apples for my closest ‘neigh-bours’, Kitty and her foal Molly.

Even an atheist Jew such as myself can be a hoary old Christmas traditionalist, so I put the Christmas pud on the steamer and glaze my home-made mince pies, to be snarfed later with brandy butter and burps.

Most important of all, I take the cheese out of the fridge, and let it breathe. I am a self-avowed pathetic slave to cheese, and this year I have had to cut it from my diet at home, in an effort to cut down on the cholesterol. 

But hey, it’s Christmas, so it’s got to be stinky creamy Stilton on digestive biscuits, and a pungent nutty cheddar on oatcakes, washed down with a healthy dose of vintage port, of which I will purchase a half bottle for my own consumption. 

After the meal, a stroll down by the river, enjoying the utter tranquility of the day that’s in it, and back home to watch a movie.  
 
As a child in England, there was comfort to be found in the Christmas morning Beatles film on the box, and in the afternoon the Beeb always used to run Bridge Over The River Kwai
 
Some traditions are best left unwrapped, so to be on the safe side I’ll make sure to rent a couple of vids - one new release and one old fave ,something epic like Goodfellas or Dr. Zhivago.

By the time darkness has fallen on my solitary Christmas Day, I will have exercised twice, been well fed and over-watered, ready to snooze a while in front of the fire. 
 
I will not be woken up by any upsetting family rows, or Uncle George needing urgent medical attention after overdoing the brandy.

After my snooze, there’ll be an energetic walk to the bathroom, followed by a disgustingly long soak, and then a bit of a wash and brush up to see if I feel like visiting friends, or prefer simply to stare at the goggle box and drift off into my own private Yuletide nirvana.

How bad does that sound?

To be completely honest, I’m not even sure that I really will spend Christmas Day alone this year. I have two friends in Galway City who are also planning to spend the day alone, so I made a suggestion that if they felt the urge, so to speak, they might come up and share a country Christmas with me.

If they come I will be delighted to see them, certain in the knowledge that we will still have exactly the day we all want, under no pressure to do, be or say anything that crosses the border from our Happy World of Indulgence into the dark dreary land of Duty.

Either way, alone or with my fellow Lost Boys, I will be spending money I don’t have; eating and drinking as if I were immortal; enjoying my own company, and equally eager to step into the pub at noon on Stephen’s Day and quaff pints of black, whilst listening to the horrific tales of woe emanating from all those poor sad souls who had to endure the Christmas that everyone else wanted.

Whether on your own or in the company of others, enjoy a peaceful happy Christmas, and whatever your faith, may your god go with you.
 
©Charlie Adley
17.12.2002