Phrase of the day: Christmas cheer

Despite my mutterings of Bah humbug! in the last post, I do actually like a bit of Christmas cheer. Over the last couple of weeks, I’ve been out quite a bit catching up with friends who I haven’t seen for a while, which is always nice. Yes, we should meet up more often, but sometimes you need an excuse like a birthday or Christmas to force the issue and make sure you get together. Of course, this may mean having to put up with some crowded bars and Christmas music, but then among the dreadful songs and carols, there is a good chance you’ll hear Slade’s Merry Christmas Everybody, which is proper Christmas cheer.

When my kids were younger, I did enjoy leaving them presents as Santa. They would leave a pillowcase out at the end of their bed (stockings are bit too small, aren’t they?), a glass of something – “Yes, son, Santa definitely prefers beer to Coca Cola” – and a mince pie (a small cake made of pastry filled with dried fruits). I know that when you encourage your kids to believe in Father Christmas, you’re basically telling them lies, but hearing the excitement of kids waking up to find that Santa has been and then unwrapping their presents ….. well, it can’t help but bring a smile to your face.

I know for some making Christmas lunch is a bit of a burden involving hours in the kitchen, but personally I like cooking so making Christmas lunch with all the trimmings is pretty enjoyable. I prefer goose  to turkey, served with something like red cabbage and apple, crispy roast potatoes and maybe some mashed carrots and swede (something my mother always did, though I mix in a bit of coriander).

After lunch, because you are usually stuffed and basically unable to move, you then slump on the sofa to watch the big film or the Christmas day episode of the soap, EastEnders. EastEnders is notoriously miserable, and pretty much every Christmas day episode ends up with a screaming match over lunch. Here’s a classic example. It’s not exactly Christmas cheer, but it certainly makes you happy to know that your family are nowhere near as bad as them.

For us in the UK, the day after Christmas (Boxing Day) is also a holiday here. For some, that means the Boxing Day Sales and more shopping, which is my idea of hell. For those of us who prefer a different kind of Christmas cheer, it means going out for a walk with friends – maybe on Hampstead Heath or in one of the other great parks in London. What could be nicer?

Want to learn more about British language and culture? We have just the course for you.

  • What do you cook for Christmas dinner / lunch? Do you like it?
  • When was the last time you were absolutely stuffed?
  • Are there any traditional TV programmes on at Christmas?
  • If you have a different religious festival, how is it similar / different to the British Christmas?
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