Blaise Tapp writes: Each year we are told that the cost of the festivities is increasing – it’s estimated that the cost will be just under a grand per household in 2021 – but many ignore the advice and push the boat out, even if they don’t know how they’ll get back to shore.
This year, despite the nagging doubt about whether or not we will be hit with at least some restrictions, the prevailing view appears to be that this year will make up for last.
Let’s face it, it can’t be much worse for those who were forced to spend it apart from loved ones 12 months ago.
Depending on your point of view, we got lucky last year as we were able to spend the big day with our nearest and dearest before the lockdown took hold on Boxing Day. This is largely why I feel very little guilt about shunning our traditional large family gathering for a trip for the four of us to our local pub.
When I say pub, I mean a restaurant that also serves a mean pint – there won’t be a packet of pork scratchings in sight on Saturday. As somebody who is a genuine stickler for tradition, the decision not to spend December 25 in the comfort of my own home hasn’t been taken lightly but I need a break.
As has been the case for most people, this year has been another joyless slog at times and the thought of peeling and scoring sprouts at 7am while listening to Anneka Rice on the wireless is enough to put even the staunchest of Crimbophiles off their Bucks Fizz.
Mrs Tapp is delighted because, for 24 hours each year, she has to put up with a husband who adopts the persona of a Michelin starred chef when the reality is that it’s more Gordon Bennett than Ramsay when I pull my pinny on. This year there will be no fretting over whether or not the bird has been adequately basted or whether the spuds are crispy enough.
Instead, if all goes to plan and we manage to avoid Omicron’s ever-increasing reach, the biggest decision I’ll have to make on the day is how many handfuls of peanuts I’ll scoff before we set off for lunch.
I’ve only ever eaten away from the family home on Christmas Day once before and that was 30 years ago. My abiding memory of that day was of the family bemoaning the fact that the dinner wasn’t ‘as good as mum’s’, but I’m confident that the quality of the fare we’ll receive this week will far exceed what I experienced as a teenager in the early 1990s, which was hardly the golden age of English cuisine.
Although not my main motivation, there is also more than a hint of satisfaction that this Christmas we’ll be supporting a local business, which like so many others has endured a dreadful two years, and let’s face it, things are not looking too bright for the hospitality industry right now.
Perhaps spooked by Government press conferences with the message ‘be sensible but don’t panic’, office parties across the land have been cancelled as positive Covid cases continue to rise.
While it will be strange not to argue about who is doing the washing and drying, I’m confident that, once we sit down to tuck into our festive feast, I won’t miss the pressure which comes from trying to make everybody else’s Christmas special.