For many, Christmas is exemplified by the consumption of alcohol before noon. People roll out of bed and keep on rolling straight into the booze cabinet – Champagne, Port, Brandy, Gin, hold the tonic – emerging only to leisurely swallow their own weight in meat and vegetables, before resuming the imbibing or yet more alcoholic stimulants. It’s a longstanding tradition for many, and a fine one it is, too. For me though, the countdown to Christmas only really begins with the onset of ‘Christmas telly’.
I always find it thrilling when I see the movies-on-TV trailers, usually accompanied by some big band number – Shirley Bassey will be kept in her feather boas and caviar, dammit – and a throaty Dervla Kirwan-esque voiceover. It warms the cockles of my telly-loving heart to see what the programmers have come up with. I love seeing the TV schedules – let’s not be coy here, it’s the Radio Times or nothing – and circling in big, bold red pen the movies and TV extravaganzas I want to catch. I love the way the programmes change with the time of day, so that Christmas morning is ushered in with something twee like a stop-motion version of Jesus of Nazareth, continues with a bawdy Carry On film at lunch time, dawdles gently with a romantic comedy starring Sandra Bullock in early evening, before rounding off with something nice and bloody and action-y (perfectly in line with Jesus’ birthday, right?) at prime time. I love that.
What I love best of all, though is the way that Christmas telly unifies and divides my family, every single year. There are things that we all want to watch – The Incredibles, Galaxy Quest, and our family Crimbo favourite, Gremlins II – but there are things that inspire almost bloody revolution. My brother would rather rip his eyelids off with a rusty knife than watch The Vicar of Dibley, but my sister and I love it. My brothers and I love Buffy The Vampire Slayer and will watch it slack-jawed for hours, while my sister is completely resistant to its charms. It’s a tradition in itself, and one that we enjoy as much as the gluttonous over-consumption of rich food and drink. It’s just the way we do things chez YorubaFamily.
I’ve spotted my first few Christmas telly ads, and I’ve begun to get that special Christmas tingle. Altogether now, in your best croony Perry Como voice, “It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas…“