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  • Elliot Harper

The Tales of a Yorkshireman living in Texas: Christmas2.0




“Merry Christmas, little fella. We know that you’re in there, and that you’re all alone.”

Harry, Home Alone







Christmas2.0


It’s Christmas again!


It seems to creep around so quickly without me noticing. It might be because we don’t have children, or possibly because it’s quite warm in comparison to England (HA!), but it always seems to appear out of nowhere. Thanksgiving happens, and then suddenly, BAM, its Christmas. I think it would be safe to say that this year’s Christmas might not be one of the best after everything that’s happened this year, but I hope that everyone can find some pleasure in there somewhere.


For us, Christmas is a small affair. Again, this might be because we don’t have children, but I’ve never really been that into it. It could also be because we’re not religious. Or it could simply be because we can’t be arsed. Still, we do keep to a few traditions. An important one being that I dig out all the Christmas movies immediately, but I only ever need the most marginal of excuses to do that. You know the list: Die Hard, Lethal Weapon, the Home Alones, Krampus, Elf, The Long Kiss Goodnight, Batman Returns… Yeah, yeah! I get it. I did this last year (and I always talk about it), but I just like to reiterate that all these films are proper Christmas movies whether you like it or not!


Movies aside, we like to keep it small, and we don’t really bother with presents. We put the fake Christmas tree and a couple of decorations up a few weeks ago (some ornaments we bought from Poland, a sign for the window with a greyhound wearing a Santa hat, a small wooden tree for the table, a festive wall hanging from Ikea, and some lights, that’s about it!), but compared to the rest of the neighbourhood, it’s very tame in comparison (I saw that a few people had hired some guys to put their lights up around their house which seems excessive and also a little lazy, but who am I to talk!) So, in some ways, we’ve been kind of Christmassy for a while now, although in a very sluggish, half-arsed sort of way.


Even though I’m the designated house-husband/person, Naomi is doing the cooking. I can’t be trusted with such a big task, and my cooking skills are restricted to about ten recipes from HelloFresh that I’ve “mastered”… What can I say, I’m a creature of habit! So, Nay has slaved away all morning preparing our vegetarian Christmas dinner… Oh yeah, that’s the other thing I forgot to mention. We don’t do the big turkey, or beef, or chicken dinner. I’m a veggie, so Naomi kindly defers to my pain-in-the-arsed-ness, and we’re having a guilt-free (wink) veggie Christmas dinner.


A few of you out there might think this is sacrilege, but it’s not that bad! We’ve got a shitload of vegetables (obviously!), Yorkshire puddings (obviously!) and a nut roast as well as stuffing and a homemade cheesecake for afters. I’m currently sitting by the roaring fire on the television. You know what I mean, one of those videos on Amazon Prime that has a ten-hour run time and is just a crackling fire. It’s quite impressive in a 2D sort of fashion. It’s also very authentic, so much so that I can nearly feel the fake heat on my skin.


I take a sip from my can of non-alcoholic beer from Karbach Brewery (finally one of the big Houston breweries released one!) just as Hank wanders back into the room. He’s been staring at Naomi in the kitchen in the hopes that some food might fall to the ground, but he’s clearly given up. I can’t help but sigh at his arrival because he’s wearing his Christmas jumper that Naomi had insisted on buying him. Obviously, Bray hasn’t been left out, he’s got one as well, but he has remained in the front room. He doesn’t beg like Street Hank, he’s a bit more stealthy about it and just pretends to be asleep while keeping his ears vigilant. To be fair to them, they’ll get some Yorkies later, and they know it, hence the maximum alert status they’ve adopted.



I’ll stop for the moment, so I can sum up…


So far, we’ve got a meat-free vegetarian Christmas dinner, no presents, non-religious, dogs in colourful jumpers, non-alcoholic beer for 50% of the participants, and a crackling fire on the television… Yes, that’s right, this really is a modern Christmas.


Oh, and I forgot to mention Alexa playing a random selection of Christmas tunes on the speaker (mostly Buble, but that’s got nothing to do with me.) It is the 21st century, after all! This modernity is also reinforced by the various video calls that we partook in earlier on. Just imagine explaining all this to someone from the late 1800s! They’d think we were absolutely insane!


Hank deposits himself on the floor and pretends to look devastated at the lack of fallen food, while I watch the dancing flames on the screen. Even though I know for sure it's not real, it still has that unique hypnotism to it. You know what I mean. The gyration of the fire. It lures you in and relaxes you. Obviously, it’s a bit more pronounced when you stare at a real-life fire, but I can still feel that small tug towards it, as though I can simply stare at it for hours on end. It must be some primal instinct this strange enticement to the flames.


I’m snapped out of my reverie by the arrival of the food, but not before both dogs jump up as though it’s their Christmas dinner and not mine, but they quickly return to pretending to be asleep when they realise that the humans haven’t eaten yet. They know well enough that they have to wait until afterwards for whatever might be left… although there’s no doubt that there’ll be some food left, mostly because there’s a mountain of the stuff. Easily enough for the next few days. Back home, this would be a Boxing Day leftover dinner, but that particular holiday doesn’t happen over here. The two bank holidays are reserved for Christmas Eve and Day. Boxing Day must just be one of those quaint British quirks, one amongst many.


Nay looks hot and bothered after spending the last few hours cooking, but she’ll soon cool down because the house is freezing at the moment… well, not really freezing at all, just mildly cold. It sits around the mid-60s, which is about 15 in the common tongue. The heating is on but kept low because Hank (the pain in the arse) is terrified of it, and after spending the whole summer blasting the A.C, we’d like to safe a little money and not turn the heating on so often. This might be the tight Yorkshireman in me saying that, but it also might prove that I’ve lost my Northern edge because I doubt I would’ve been complaining about 15 degrees if I was back home!


As expected, the food is delicious, and we tuck in accordingly, but we quickly run out of steam, becoming instantly full. That’s got to be one of those weird peculiarities that’s reserved for Christmas Day. Why do you always feel full when you immediately begin to eat dinner? I’m sure the snacking and chocolate don’t help, but it’s as though your body has waited for the food to touch your lips, and then decided this is the perfect time to let you know that you couldn’t possibly eat anymore… except, of course, for the rest of the day when you pointlessly snack even though you’re already full to the brim. You know it’s Christmas when you can practically feel the food purposefully crawling back up your throat to get out.


After dinner, we give the dogs their treat, a couple of the Yorkshire Puddings (the lucky bastards!), which they inhale rather than chew (such a waste), and then we tidy up a bit. The following hour is spent wondering if we should eat more, but deciding against it, before taking the dogs out for a brief stroll to walk off dinner, where we find that pretty much everyone else has had the same idea.


After that, we return to the house where the real big moment of Christmas takes place… the ceremonial choosing of the movies. I say choosing, but it’s just me endlessly banging on about the same movies while Naomi wonders why we have to watch the same rubbish every single year, but she doesn’t really mind because she’s full, tired and a little tipsy, and she knows she’ll be asleep within the hour anyway, so it’s just easier to let me do whatever as I’ll only moan anyway. I can sense that she doesn’t care so I slip on Home Alone (which she scandalously doesn’t like) knowing that she’ll be out of it soon, safe in the knowledge that I can then quietly put Home Alone 2 on afterwards as well (as long as they’ve edited out that orange twat that is!)


While the rest of them snore away, I settle into the movie and wonder what Christmas was like one hundred years ago before realising that I don’t really care, just as Harry’s head is hilariously set on fire from one of Kevin’s numerous boobytraps. Now this is Christmas!


Thanks for reading ya filthy animals… and have a Happy New Year!


Write, read, edit, repeat.


Elliot


 

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