I am hosting Christmas Day this year, at my house, for the first time in about ten years.
I haven’t had to do it for so many years because I am blessed with relatives who are Christmas CRAZY. They love it. They spank it. They feel it. I like Christmas, too, but I have also become aware over the last few years, especially after having kids, quite how much work it is.
My god it’s just work. It’s the tidying up and the peeling and the taking the bins out and the timers and the lists and the last-minute dashes to Sainsbury’s and the exhaustion. And the tidying up, did I mention that. I think you are supposed to take it all on the chin because it’s Christmas and you must be willing to work like crazy in order to give everyone this marvellous thing because it’s Christmas. But you have to be a better person than me not to end up feeling really quite angry and fault-findy by the end of the day.
So I was happy to leave it to other people. I’ve totally lost that hausfrau-ish urge to own Christmas. But I feel like Christmas has come back round to me at exactly the right time. My kids are a bit older – about twice a week I am even allowed to wake up naturally – and I am also more realistic about what I can achieve. My house won’t look like those houses do on Pinterest or Instagram or in a magazine. Because it’s a real house and we live in it. And I’m okay with that.
There are only six of us for Christmas lunch this year, which also suits me fine. I don’t need 12 people all crammed in, I have no delusions of Fezziwiggery. And I have managed to suggest, with no opprobrium or rows, a change to the traditional Christmas lunch. Because the thing is, I don’t really like turkey. Not only that, a roast with trimmings is probably the most stressful thing to have to prepare and maintain good humour, (while the roast itself maintains a ridiculous and undeserved air of being somehow homely and humble).
There’s more! While turkey or meat of any kind once upon a time at Christmas would have been a luxury, it doesn’t really say luxury to me. So I have constructed a menu that says LUXURY because it’s got things in it that are genuinely unaffordable that I never usually have.
We will have smoked salmon to start and I mean the really expensive kind, which we get from Panzer’s in St John’s Wood. It is wild and hand carved and speaks 8 different languages or something. We only ever have it at Christmas because it is so expensive, and so that’s what we’re having
Then we’re having Beef Wellington – I rarely eat red meat these days and never, ever fillet because it somehow just feels profligate and wrong. But not at Christmas! The best thing about a Beef Wellington is that you can pretty much do the entire thing the day before and it’s not nearly as much of a hassle as it sounds as long as you pay attention and follow the instructions.
My kids, again, will also like this. Possibly a bit too much. I’d better do some little sausages on the side for them, come to think of it. We’ll have it with red cabbage and that’s it. No naffing about with glazed carrots or parsnips or roast potatoes. Save them for another time when there isn’t so much else to do besides.
And then a Christmas pudding, which I will buy from somewhere as, if you hadn’t worked it out already, I’m just not the sort to be arsed with making one. I saw in the paper the other day that Tesco make the best one this year.
Here is a recipe by Gordon Ramsay for Beef Wellington, which I have used before with total success, should you be a turkey refusenik, too.
With all the acres of time I will save not doing any complicated cooking I am going to read my book and drink coffee. Because it’s my Christmas, too.
How about you? Are you hosting this year? What’s your dream Christmas Day lunch? Elizabeth David’s was always an omelette and a glass of champagne. Or have I made that up.