What was interesting – apart from how many people voluntarily watch soap operas - is that nobody mentioned church. Seriously, if I was Jesus, I’d be a bit pissed off, frankly. It’s his birthday we’re all celebrating, and hardly anyone bothers to pop round and say Hi.
I have to say, church is a definite part of the tradition for us – I wouldn't feel right celebrating Christmas without it.
For us, the celebrations start on Christmas Eve when we have a day outdoors somewhere (this year we’re off to a wildlife reserve) and head home in time for the crib service, which is always good fun – last year the vicar caused chaos with a live donkey, and a remote controlled phone which kept ringing with urgent messages from Father Christmas.
After church, we trim the tree, hang the stockings and Flea opens one present before a reading of The Night Before Christmas. I’ll put on National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation and Elf while I do the wrapping, remembering of course to artistically create snowy footprints on the hearth and a thankyou note from Santa on the breakfast table.
Christmas morning is for stockings and presents – then we go to the Christmas service. We have lunch, then we'll tend to go for a walk on the beach or the local woods. It gives Flea a chance to run off some energy, and then after supper, when she's asleep, I love watching proper blockbuster movies – something like Terminator or Star Trek is perfect.
Boxing Day is our big family day, and someone will host a family lunch where we can catch up and Flea can play with her cousins and endure kisses from elderly relatives she doesn't really remember. There may be Trivial Pursuit, but we try and steer clear of Scrabble on the big day because Mum has a tendency to get a wee bit over-competitive about the whole business.
Obviously, there are other, rather less Norman Rockwell elements to the traditional Whittle family Christmas. Regular readers will be less than astounded to discover that I almost always kill a domestic appliance at Christmas – last year it was the fire, this year the central heating is already making noises that are turning each day into a thrilling will it/won’t it adventure. I'll always forget to serve one element of Christmas dinner, and I'll drink too much on Boxing Day and find myself unable to resist raising the subject of women who shave their intimate regions, just to see my sister-in-law's reaction, which never gets old.
Regardless, though, our Christmas feels like Christmas – and church is as much as part of Christmas as mince pies and Chevy Chase. And there’s always, always Quality Street. What do you think – will your kids be going to Church this week?