I always treat myself to a nice bottle of sherry or Madeira to sip slowly throughout the festive period, a glass or two while I write cards, wrap presents, ice the cake or have a go at making a Christmas wreath (the latter very much a new tradition for me – thanks to an online class during lockdown courtesy of The Wine Society). The beauty of Madeira (and sherry to a lesser extent) is that it lasts well once opened and can be enjoyed with a wide variety of nibbles – crisps, nuts and even cake! It certainly helps to get me in the mood and keep me going through what can sometimes feel like a rather frantic time.
Hearing about some of my colleagues’ festive traditions makes me think I need to improve my game though!
Gill Tyler, PA to our CEO Steve Finlan says that she starts getting in the mood during November when she makes her own mincemeat and Christmas puddings. Then, on Christmas Eve she has everything sorted (how do people do that?) and can sit back and relax with hot beef sandwiches and a glass of a juicy red, such as The Society’s Australian Cabernet Sauvignon and Scrooge (the Alistair Sim version, she is keen to point out) on the telly.
Christmas Eve around Chris Wain’s house sounds a bit busier. Chris from our IT department says, ‘When you’re the winner of Whamageddon and have avoided that song all December, come the 24th everyone gets stuck in making sausage rolls, mince pies and cheese straws before opening Christmas Eve boxes and settling down with a few beers and a good film.’ When it comes to the big day, there can be as many as 20 around the table or the polar opposite, meaning every year is different. A permanent fixture though is A Christmas Story… “You’ll shoot your eye out kid”!’
Catherine Housden from the Tastings team tells us that when she was a child, the sign to her family that the Christmas season had truly started was hearing the first play of Frank Kelly's Christmas Countdown on Wake Up to Wogan on the radio before school. Even though it’s no longer introduced by Terry's brogue, it remains a stalwart ‘carol’ in the Housden house and often quoted in the family group chat throughout the year. If you've not heard it before, it’s easily found on YouTube – treatyourselves!
Rachel Elliott in Distribution says that despite her and her brother being in their late 30s, their mum still puts out a treat for Santa and Rudolf on Christmas Eve. Homemade mince pies for Santa and a carrot for his four-legged friend and apparently, Santa is fond of Disaronno rather than a glass of Port these days! Crumbs, an empty glass and nibbled carrot have to be witnessed by all on Christmas Day to make sure Father Christmas has been!
Perhaps a festive walk is part of your family’s traditions? If so, you might want to take heed of this cautionary tale from Anna Spooner in our Tastings team! ‘We always like to go for a long dog walk on Christmas Day and come rain or shine, we earn our lunch with a proper stretch of the legs. A couple of years ago when we were celebrating at mum and dad's home in France, we decided to extend this tradition to Christmas Eve. Six hours later, in the pitch darkness, we scrambled down the side of a mountain and popped out somewhere in Beaumes-de-Venise which we only recognised by the local wine co-op. Needless to say we've decided the walks are safer on Christmas Day, with a well-plotted route and a map.
Perhaps Anna needs to put a headtorch on her Christmas list!
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