12 February 2018

My Christmas: Zoe Pleasants

| Zoe Pleasants
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Tim and Dawn kissing from The Office Christmas Special

RiotACT feature writer Zoe Pleasants reckons Love Actually is schmaltzy (hard to argue with her on that one, actually!) and the Office Christmas Specials are a much better viewing option this festive season.

What I love most about Christmas is that it marks the end of the year: routine events become a party, and people make an effort to stop, catch up and share food and drink together. I also like using the tradition of giving gifts to thank the many people in my kids’ lives. I see the spirit of Christmas light up in my kids’ faces when they give a small, unexpected gift to a teacher or coach who has given them so much throughout the year.

What I like least about Christmas is making arrangements for Christmas Day. There are enough complications in some parts of my extended family. Offers to host Christmas day are few, and rejections of those offers occur. This year, to avoid these complications, I’m escaping to Vietnam with my husband and kids, to spend Christmas with friends.

My best ever Christmas was probably one I spent as a kid. There isn’t a particular one that stands out, but Christmas was always better if I spent it with lots of other people – grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins.

My favorite Christmas songs are, suprisingly for an atheist, the Christmas carols Once in Royal David’s City and Hark the Herald Angels Sing. I spent the first 13 years of my life in the UK where I attended no less than a cathedral every Sunday and, of course, on Christmas Day. The second best part of going to church on Christmas morning was the spine-tingling sound of a choir boy opening the service with Once in David’s Royal City, and the roof the of the cathedral being lifted off during the chorus of Hark the Herald. The best part of the service was the end because it meant I could go home and open my presents!

My favorite Christmas film is The Office Christmas Specials (UK version). I know they are not proper films, but you can keep the schmaltzy Love Actually, Tim and Dawn’s love story is romantic comedy at its best.

I celebrate Christmas Eve by helping my kids set up a landing strip for Santa’s sleigh, marked out with tealight candles, and complete with carrots and a bucket of water for the reindeers!

I celebrate Christmas day by being woken by my kids before six and listening to their excitement that Santa came, managing their impatience in waiting for whatever it is that needs to happen before they can open the rest of their presents, enjoying them presiding over the present giving out process and soothing their disappointment when they open their presents all too quickly. Then there’s eating seafood, and finally joining my kids on the couch, arms and legs sprawled over each other, to watch a movie.

On Boxing Day I either head to the Woodford Folk Festival or I am relaxing at home, eating ham and salad, relieved that Christmas is over. Either way, Boxing Day is one of my favourite days of the year.

The gift I’d most like to give this Christmas is something that costs me more than money to give. For 2017, I am going to commit to being more patient with my kids, spending more time with my Mum, and spending more quality time with my husband. Giving more of myself to show my gratitude.

For Christmas this year I’d like for the retail and foodie focus of Christmas to diminish because who really needs more stuff and all that pressure to plate-up a restaurant quality lunch?

Pictured above, Tim and Dawn kissing from The Office Christmas Special

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