…not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse. As the inside temperature of the house, this morning, was a crisp 9°C it was no wonder that nothing was stirring, it was more of a wonder that anything was still breathing. All need for mouse traps had disappeared, as the mice had repaired outside to the garden for warmth. It was the romance of living in this tiny stone refrigerator that led me to start putting down my thoughts and sharing them with consenting adults on the internet. I have now been doing this for precisely two years. During that time it may have become clear to you that I have a jaundiced view of festive celebration. This is not a result of meanness of spirit but more of a protection against the disappointment so often created by great expectations. The ghosts of Christmas past loom large in my memory with the highlights being confined to the anticipation of what was to come, rather like a blind date who turned out to be exactly that. Yuletide comes tapping in with a white stick, the Blind Pugh of festivals, offering us a wonderful hidden treasure. As in the book, the hopes and desires for this treasure are misplaced. The treasure has turned into a trinket and that was never the intention.
Strangely enough, Christmas Eve in the kitchen has never disappointed. Even before I realised that I could cook, when food was just fuel, I remember the smells, warmth and atmosphere of the preparation of the Christmas feast. Now that cooking is so much part of me, the pleasure of preparing food on Christmas Eve has not diminished, even though it has become my personal Groundhog Day. The charm of Christmas dinner lies in its immutable sameness. The annual struggle, as witnessed in magazines, TV programmes and glossy books, to create something “different” for Christmas is as successful as trying to create something different for sex. The essential ingredients of the former and the physical limitations of the latter constrain the possibilities to cosmetic changes which offer more in anticipation than in consummation. This is just the way of the things and it is for similar reasons that expensive underwear shops exist, as the product that they sell is not far removed from Christmas decorations, just less itchy. So, making a good Christmas dinner has to be done with love and care within the limitations put upon us – no different to a loving fuck with the one you love. Just think how often that is successful – which may account for the amount of disappointing Christmas dinners that will be brought to the table this year, as ever. All you need is love.