It’s Christmas time and I made a solemn promise to my mother-in-law not to write anything about politics. Well she actually shouted down the phone “Leave f***ing politics alone. You see want they do to journalists in Turkey that talk too much about f***ing politics. Somebody will blow your car up!” I nodded my head, which as I was on the phone she couldn’t see but I’m sure she felt it.
So I won’t talk about the 300,00 people who have already fled the country in search of a brighter future in Germany and Ireland. Whoops! Or I won’t talk about the not so friendly relationship with Bosnia. Whoops! Or even the comedy circus around our buying, or not, of Israeli fighter jets. Whoops! Sorry mother-in-law.
No, Christmas is coming and the Thomas household is in full swing. My wife has even made a traditional English Christmas pudding this year. The first one she ever made was eaten live on TV as I was a guest on HRT1 a few years ago talking about English Christmas customs. It was steaming away for six hours on our cooker so I would presume all the hard work paid off. Let’s face it I am sure it will be considerably better than her prikle she made whilst waiting for the steam to cook our pudding. Pebbles on the outside and raw and runny in the inside. Unfortunately, I had proudly taken a whole bowlful to the neighbours before we tried them (sorry neighbours).
The decorations are up and so is the tree. We even watched one episode of Home Alone, well a few minutes at least. Yes, we are speeding along the Christmas highway with tinsel in our hair and Chris Rhea singing “Driving Home for Christmas” on the radio. It’s the most wonderful time of the year. For in many ways the actual build up to Christmas is much more exciting than the big day. So look forward to the smell of pine filling your house as the Christmas tree gets plonked in the corner of the living room and then after Christmas you’ve the job of picking up all those annoying pine needles. The turkey, that we really only have once a year, looks succulent on Christmas Day but already by St. Stephens Day you’re sick of turkey and realises exactly why you only have it once a year. The Christmas carols that seemed cute and fun in October when they first came on the radio start to brainwash you the closer the big day comes. It isn’t that I hate Christmas, far from it, I’m not Grinch, it’s just that Christmas foreplay seems to be exciting than Christmas sex.
I’ve just come back from a quick visit to Zagreb and managed to dip my toes into the Advent in the capital briefly. Apart from the fact that it was so cold I saw penguins wearing scarves and snow was falling horizontally the capital is the winner by far of the Christmas atmospheres in the country. No other city really comes close. Lord Bandić seems to dig deeper into his pockets every winter just to make Advent more impressive.
But also being in Zagreb in winter is a lot like being in Dubrovnik in the summer. Why? Because it is full of Dubrovnik citizens! It seemed every corner I turned I bumped into someone else I knew. And just as I was leaving my hotel a bus emptied yet more dubrovčani into the reception. Kaj was being replaced by kenova as the Republic invaded the metropole. The “pomalo” army was spreading over the capital. Although the weather, or rather the extreme cold, does help you spot a dubrovčani from a distance. They will be the ones wearing new boots with the price tag still on the bottom, 15 layers of clothes, hats, scarves, gloves and sunglasses. Yes, in every weather sunglasses are a must.
So enjoy your Christmas period. Nestle in the warm bosom of your family and friends and live for the moment.