December 18th, 2003



Christmas is coming.

Hell, Christmas is pretty much here. Less than a week from now I'll be sitting down to Turkey with the family (about 20 of them).

My family has a somewhat unorthodox Christmas - my paternal grandmother, all 4 of her sons, all 4 of their wives and all 15-odd of their children sit down together at a very large table on Christmas Eve.

The Christmas Eve thing is apparently a continental tradition, explained to me a long time ago by my father as being because on the continent they celebrate the day before Christmas so that they can spend the day itself in quiet contemplation of the birth of Christ. Or, in most of my family's case, driving off to see the wive's parents. My mother's family being Jewish by religion as well as descent, I've never had to do this, so Christmas day itself can be spent in quiet contemplation of whatever's on the TV...

Other strangeness includes the fact that we have the Christmas meal in the evening (possibly because it takes several hours for people to arrive on the day) and the fact that we sing carols. No, really. Despite my staunch agnosticism I stand with the rest of my (fairly atheistic) cousins and go through a couple of verses of Christmas songs, largely to keep my grandmother happy. It's possibly the strangest (or at least the most out of character) thing I do each year.

For the past 12 years, this celebration has occurred at my parent's house, largely because we had the largest one and were fairly central. However, this year uncle Chris has taken over the duties. Which on the one hand means less tidying up afterwards and peeling potatoes beforehand, but on the other hand means travelling there/back on Christmas eve. I don't remember ever celebrating Christmas except in my parent's place. I'm sure this year will feel a little freaky.