Friday 20 September 2019

Rachel Dugan: 'My own little miracle at Christmas'


Stock photo: Getty Images
Stock photo: Getty Images

Rachel Dugan

Regular readers of this column will be aware that, after more than three decades of doing my best impression of a sloth on Christmas Day, I'm finally stepping up to the hosting plate.

You may be surprised to learn that, so far, it's all going well. In fact, for the last week I've been ticking things off my prep list almost daily.

Glazed ham? Check. Jamie Oliver's special gravy? Check. Boozy sherry trifle? Check. Brandy and Champagne cocktails? Check. Spiced red cabbage? Check.

I know it sounds like I've morphed into some of kind of Martha Stewart-esque festive ninja, but sadly that is not the case. When I say 'check', what I really mean is that someone else is making and bringing said item to our house on the big day.

And just like some kind of Christmas miracle worthy of its own festive blockbuster, the offers just keep rolling in. By Christmas eve, I'm fully expecting someone to have agreed to haul a fully laid table, complete with centre piece and lit candles, into our home.

Now some might say that these copious offers of help should be viewed with suspicion, that they suggest a certain lack of confidence among our guests in our hosting abilities.

But I'm choosing not to see it that way (and, ahem, any family reading this, I am eternally grateful to you all).

I'm joyous about the fact it leaves my husband and I free to focus on our areas of expertise. If Christmas were 'Mastermind', our specialist subjects would be party food, wine and cheese boards. So now we will get to lavish our generous guests with lots of extra treats. Smoked salmon blinis, anyone?

Shining a fairy light on festive jumper show-offs

Continuing the festive theme, let's talk about Christmas jumpers.

More and more people are now taking the 'Blue Peter' approach and fashioning their own jumpers from some old toilet rolls, a wad of tinsel and a string of battery powered fairy lights.

I know many of them are going for the hokey and heartwarmingly homemade look, but others clearly just want to show-off their make-and-do prowess, festooning their geansaí with so much festive paraphernalia that Santa could well mistake them for a landing strip.

Which, when I think about, might not be a bad thing. At least if they were all run over by a high-speed sleigh I wouldn't have to fight them and their 120 fairy lights for the barman's attention come Christmas week. So go for it, jumper adorners, make (and do) my day...

Social media is dragging Wham! into its stupidity

The festive jumper may be a fully fledged Christmas tradition here now, but December always brings with it a few new trends vying to make it on to the nice list.

This week's newbie on the block is 'Whamageddon', a game gaining in popularity on social media.

Basically, those taking part in the challenge must avoid hearing the Wham! song 'Last Christmas' between December 1 and midnight on Christmas eve.

First of all, I'm not even sure that this is possible, unless you spend most of Christmas wearing a pair of noise-cancelling headphones or listening to Metallica (which, apparently, is a tactic being employed by some).

And, more importantly, why on earth would you want to do this? The annual aural assault we are subjected to each year is surely the true spirit of Christmas.

But we shouldn't be surprised - social media also brought us sunburn art, the Tide Pod challenge (the true spirit of human stupidity) and car-surfing.

Irish Independent

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