Christmas. But not as I know it.

So, um, Christmas Day was a little different this year.

We took the kids out for a walk in Santa Cruz, stopping at the harbour to eat raisin bread. And then we spent the rest of the day at Twin Lakes beach. The beach. On Christmas Day. As you do.

And then while we were at the beach, a seal dropped in just a few metres away. Because things weren’t surreal already. I’ve been to family gatherings in the past with some seriously weird relatives in attendance, so the seal was a welcome change.

I loved every minute of the day, but it wasn’t the Christmas I recognise. So allow me the indulgence as I reel off the things I think about, when someone says the C-word.

Seasonal Sights

Christmas is all about bringing people together around a special moment in time. You know, right after A Question of Sport and before the Eastenders Special.

Just before the Queen’s Speech airs, you take bets on what colour dress she’s wearing, and then fall silent to listen to what she has to say. But as soon as you realize you don’t have a clue what she’s banging on about, you roll out your impersonations of her.

Movies are the cornerstone of the Christmas schedule, and you plan most of your waking moments around it. You look forward to watching the same films every year – Return of the Jedi, the Back to the Future trilogy (skipping #3 for obvious reasons), and the one with Dudley Moore in tights.

And finally there’s the Christmas dross. The alternate Christmas speech and the 2-hour long programmes that fill the time when you’d rather not talk to your family. The Top 100 Reality TV Moments From Reality TV Shows You Didn’t Even Know Existed is perfect family avoidance fodder.

Sleigh Bell Sounds

Radio is not safe from the top 100s either. This time of year brings out the vote for the best song ever recorded. It starts a few weeks before the big day, when they count down song-by-song until you finally get to Christmas Day, and – lo and behold – they reveal it’s Bohemian bloody Rhapsody again.

Tasty Tidings

Baileys, Babycham, brandy, Celebrations, cranberry sauce, Heroes, pigs in blankets, Quality Streets, Roses, Yorkshire Pudding… Christmas is the only reason diets exist. And Alcoholics Anonymous, for that matter.

Santa-Inducing Smells

Cloves. I am too ignorant to know what they are and where they come from, and not interested enough to actually look them up. All I know is, the unmistakable smell of Christmas is everywhere for about 2 weeks at the end of the year, and then it does one for the next 50.

Oh, and when you pass the local pub on your Christmas Day walk, and it has that faint smell of a good fight from the night before. Yeah, that’s Christmas, that.

And finally…

New Year Honours

It’s revealed around now who the Queen is dishing out an MBE to, or an OBE, a CBE, or some other acronym. Some ladies are made a Dame, and men are Knighted, which means they get the honour of you calling them Sir. I always feel sorry for those guys – the sacrifices they’ve made, the great things they’ve done, the noble causes they’ve supported in their lifetimes to have such a prestige bestowed upon them. And yet if I want to get called Sir, I just have to go to my nearest department store.

Apart from the few people who actually receive an honour, I don’t think anyone else in the country knows what the bloody hell it all means. But even so, we take pleasure in pouring scorn on people in the public eye who get one (“Him? What service to the country has he provided, apart from being a giant bell-end?”. Etc.)

And the other fun part of this, is second-guessing who’ll be stripped of the honour in a number of years, due to previously unknown criminal misdemeanors.

Happy Christmas to you all – whether it was seal-filled or not, I hope it was the very best of days.

Downtown San Jose. December 2015.
Downtown San Jose. December 2015.



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