For a while there was the tiniest possibility that Christmas could be cancelled. Last year we didn't worry, wrapped up in our smug Covid-free kingdom, and with mere hours to go before Santa loads up his sleigh, we can largely bank on celebrating the way we'd all like to, unless New Zealand delivers its signature Christmas special of a deluge of rain, putting a damper on al fresco lunch plans.
No Christmas has been subject to this kind of anticipation before and we know that with anticipation comes let-down. It's important to remember that Christmas Day is but one day out of hundreds. It doesn't last any longer than usual and if you have to travel or you spend the day in the kitchen, it goes even faster.
So, with all this anticipation may well come disaster. In case anyone needs reminding, here is what NOT to do this Christmas.
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First night fever
Growing up in a small town means Christmas Eve is the one night where long-lost and childhood friends come back to celebrate, and boy, do those small-town pubs hum on Christmas Eve. However, all this excitement can lead to a bad case of First Night Fever, which isn't great when it's followed by a full day of family festivities. For a time, I was an expert on overindulging on Christmas Eve, my skills only outshone by my mother who excelled at the midnight pick up with a bucket on the front seat. Thanks Mum.
Keep it clean
Christmas Day, no matter how much you'd like to, is most certainly not the time to broach controversial subjects of conversation. My American friends are well-versed with this, given their four-year Trumpian reign, but New Zealanders will have largely avoided this, until this year that is. Christmas Day is not the time to analyse our Covid response, vaccine mandates or whether Team NZ will defend the Cup in Auckland or abroad. Why not establish a fine system whereby anyone who brings up sensitive topics has to pay into a nice Christmas-themed jar or keep some good Instagram videos at the ready in case you need to lighten the tone.
Share the load
Christmas Day is fabulous, but for many people it is a day spent in a humid kitchen worrying if they are suffering early onset symptoms of perimenopause. Share the load. Accept help, ask people to bring a dish, give some guidance as to what you want, and send in the kids to do the dishes after the meal. If you are asking people to contribute, have them bring something that fits their skills. A friend was asked to bring traditional Christmas desserts, but all lactose free. That kind of request is definitely best suited to the party who actually is lactose-free, so match dishes accordingly.
In Queensland I ate Christmas lunch in a bikini, and festive fashion is a big thing overseas. Wear something appropriate for the setting, who will be there and how you'll be sitting. You will rue a tight waistband if you are relegated to the floor after lunch. If you plan on mucking in with the kitchen duties, wear some shoes that you won't slip over in when the gravy splashes on the floor.
Needless to say, wear appropriate undergarments. A friend of mine was scarred for life after seeing his aunt fall backwards off her chair while wearing a maxi dress commando. His Christmas gift was an anatomy lesson.
Above all, have fun with the people you are spending the day with and if not, fake reflux and leave early. Merry Christmas!