Just for starters, there’s the list of gifts to buy, the Christmas card list, plus multiple lists for Christmas food and drink shopping (a big task for us, as we also stock up pretty heavily for winter). Then there’s the list of timings for Christmas dinner. The first time I cooked Christmas dinner, I had a list of exactly what to do when, like I was stage-managing a presidential visit or something. (You know the sort of thing…. 9.10am: take turkey out of fridge. 10.15am: put oven on. 10.45am: rub turkey in butter. 11am: put turkey in oven. Like that, except even more anal.)
We all have our little rituals in the run-up to Christmas, like watching Die Hard on Christmas Eve or wearing tasteless Christmas jumpers (the more hideous, the better). I'm not embarrassed to say that writing the cooking schedule for Christmas dinner is one of my ritual preparations. Over the years, the anally-detailed schedule has got less and less prescriptive, partly because I’m a better, more confident cook these days, and also because I know full well the schedule goes right out of the window on the day (right around the time I consume the first glass of breakfast alcohol). It’s basically a sham exercise by now, but I write it out every year anyway. It’s Christmas, innit?
Trouble is, the older I get, the less enthused I am about the full-on, turkey-and-all-the-trimmings Christmas dinner. I want something festive and fancy, but I don’t want a marathon of cooking and washing up. So last year we had a Scandi-style, light dinner of steak, pickled cabbage and potatoes with garlic and dill. And it was great. And I thought, yes, let’s cook something different every Christmas. I EMBRACE CHANGE. I’M NOT A CONTROL FREAK.
Which brings us to fondue, our choice for Christmas dinner 2018. Yes, actual cheese fondue, off the 1970s, with the metal sticks and cubes of bread and everything. No, I’m not joking. We're fully committed.
And I’m excited for our 1970s Christmas dinner, complete with chunky knitwear, old-school trifle, and (all being well) a bit of snow on the ground. I’m excited, even though it means I have one less list to write. After all, change is good for the soul.
So merry Christmas one and all. There’s no place I’d rather be. Here’s hoping you’re right where you want to be, too.