Our cover star Anna Friel provided me with a much needed laugh this week by telling us her earliest Christmas memory: ‘Falling downstairs in my Wonder Woman pyjamas and knocking over the Christmas tree.’ For me, that’s what Christmas is about: each year we all put so much time, planning, effort – and money – towards the goal of making it perfect.
But if we’re really honest with ourselves, isn’t it the times when the best-laid plans go awry that provide the most memorable Christmases? My mother’s most unforgettable 25th December is quite something.
She was five and, being your average little imp, snuck into the room where her visiting uncle was fast asleep on a blow-up camp bed. She decided to wake him up by tickling his feet. His reflexive kick got her right in the face and he knocked out her two front teeth. Funnily enough, history would repeat itself in our house on a Boxing Day years later, when my six year-old brother was jumping around in the pool (I grew up with summer Christmases in Australia) and he bashed his face on its concrete edge. He and our father spent that day in A&E.
In fact, a quick poll in the YOU office would indicate that Christmas and disaster go together like, well, turkey and stuffing. ‘We were playing charades and my 93-year-old grandad got up to play, tripped and went headfirst into our fireplace,’ says our social media editor Georgia. ‘Luckily there were only burning embers left and he just had a few bruises and a black eye!’ And our fashion editor Sophie’s story would indicate that fireplaces and the seasonal sherries are a reliably perilous combo: ‘My grandad’s best friend got so merry that he fell sideways into the fireplace and smashed the antique nativity set. My grandma stood up and shouted, “Don’t worry, I have a spare baby Jesus!”’
Of course, our hearts really break when things go wrong with the most important thing of all: the food. Imagine slaving over a hot turkey dinner only to turn your back for a second and find your cats shamelessly tucking into it. ‘Christmas dinner was sausages that day,’ says our chief sub Cath. And here’s a tip: apparently dogs should not eat mince pies, lest you want to spend your Christmas at the emergency vet’s like our commissioning editor Miranda.
You don’t need me to tell you this Christmas will be a challenging one to make special. But perhaps there are all sorts of ‘laugh or you’ll cry’ moments waiting to happen this year that will make 2020 one of our most memorable festive seasons to date. In the face of so many obstacles to being with our nearest and dearest, that’s the spin I’m going for. Have a look at our story about the Christmas of 1940: we humans are good at making the best of things. I’m sure we’ll look back on this year and remember that we did exactly that.
I sincerely wish you all the very Merriest Christmas possible.