Share the Christmas spirit with true friends

2012-12-07 00:00

RELIGIOUS beliefs aside, there’s no denying that Christmas means different things to different folk.

Some see the reason for the season as a time to throw caution to the wind and, intent on having themselves a merry little Christmas, blow their diet and their budget, which ironically results in a big belly and even bigger debt.

Others enjoy getting into the spirit of things by literally getting into the spirit. They then waft about imparting goodwill and whiskey fumes until New Year, when a state of prohibition is declared by way of a New Year’s resolution. This sworn sobriety is inevitably forgotten on the arrival of the next party invitation, where spirits are sure to run high once more.

But, in whichever state you choose to celebrate the season, we’ve all had Christmas’s to remember and those we’d rather forget. Unless, like an elderly relative of mine, that one unforgettable Christmas will always be remembered for all the wrong reasons.

It was post-war Britain and cousin Doreen, suitably crimped and corseted, was poised to journey up the aisle on the 26th of December. The stuff of fairy tales, hers was to be a white wedding amidst a white Christmas.

A few days before the event and with all the arrangements finalised, family began to arrive from near and far, trussed up like Christmas turkeys in their wedding finery.

The air was filled with anticipation and the smell of roasting gammon, while Bing Crosby did battle with Mendelssohn for time on the gramophone player.

In the midst of all the excitement, the fact that the groom was nowhere to be found was of little consequence.

The general, but unspoken, consensus was that he was having himself a last (and assumedly deserved) little fling with his mates.

That is until Christmas Eve, when the telegram arrived.

Aided, no doubt, by a goodly amount of Yuletide spirit, Doreen’s fiancé had apparently come to the unfortunate conclusion that she was not the woman of his dreams after all.

He was very sorry, but please do have a Merry Christmas.

This being the era long before cellular phones and the like, calling the groom and demanding an explanation was not an option; nor was locating his whereabouts. In fact, in those days, unless you were either a member of the aristocracy or the emergency service, even owning a telephone was rare.

Nevermind it was the season for love and understanding, goodwill towards men went right out the window as several family members expressed a keen interest in hunting down Doreen’s blackguard of a beau and reminding him of his obligations.

Failing which they were quite prepared to beat him into submission.

But while poor Doreen wailed in anguish, achieving nothing but a Rudolph- red nose, her parents, who were hardworking no-nonsense folk, adopted a more pragmatic view.

It was Christmas after all, the whole family was in situ and there was enough food and drink to feed the eighth army.

They couldn’t see the sense in letting it all go to waste.

So on Christmas Day, with the exception of Doreen, who’d embarked on a hunger strike, everyone tucked in and merrily demolished what was meant to have been her wedding feast.

And the next morning, who should turn up on the doorstep like the ghost of Christmas past, but the groom.

Looking a little worse for wear and nursing a king-size hangover, he claimed to be completely un­aware of what one of his more spirited friends had done.

Doreen on the other hand, looked as if all her Christmas’s had come at once.

And I guess the lesson here would be that although for some there may be little difference between getting into the spirit of things and getting into the spirit, both are best done among true friends.

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