“But she’s made already made the Christmas puddings,” Clare pleaded with me.
“But, I don’t really like Christmas pudding, “I complained. “It’s just a bunch of Victorian stodge. The last thing I fancy after a huge meal is a pile of dried fruit, flour and custard.”
Clare just shook her head, “It’ll break her heart. And anyway, it’s a tradition.”
So, my idea of having a berry tart for pudding was well and truly vetoed. Instead I’ll be tucking into my mother-in-law’s Christmas pudding. I understand that its atomic mass is so great that it actually has its own gravity field and bends light.
And that’s the problem with families isn’t it. Especially at Christmas time. Every family has its own traditions and blending those traditions can be a tricky business. Because whilst many generations from one side of the family may have done it that way, it doesn’t mean that the poor fool you marry will want to do it that way as well.
However, even traditions are invented somewhere (just ask Eric Hobsbawn). Some of the finest traditions in our nation’s fine history were dreamt up not in the mists of the far distant past but all too recently. Did you know that the different tartans attributed to the Scottish clans were made up by a couple of brothers in a book called the Vestiarium in the 1830s? Or that in India there is no such dish as a “curry”, let alone a “tikka masala”?
“Well, I think it’s important that we invent our own traditions. We need to make Christmas ours and stamp a bit our identity on it,” I insisted. “We can’t just have a watered down version of your parents’ Christmas.”
“Fair enough,” said Clare. “Where do you want to start?”
After some discussion we agreed that we would find our own Christmas movie that we can settle down and enjoy with the kids each year (currently the Muppet’s Christmas Carol is top of the list); that we would have Christmas dinner at 5pm, not at 2 o’clock so it would fit in with the kids’ teatime and the crowning glory: we would go to a Christmas tree farm and cut down our own tree every year.
So, last Saturday morning we were standing on a beautiful hillside bathed in icy winter sunshine as a man sawed down a lovely 6 foot nordman fir we had chosen. The kids were beaming, Clare was beaming and I was beaming. We were enjoying creating our own traditions.
I thought I’d push my luck. “I suppose goose instead of turkey is out of the question?”
Clare’s silence and frosty glare spoke volumes.