By the time you read this column I will be following Chris Rhea and will be driving home for Christmas. It’s the most wonderful time of the year. A time for joy, love and cheer. And a time to be with your family and the ones you love. And I am heading back to the UK this festive season, yes its’ turkey for me this Christmas.
I am looking forward to all those traditions, from the crackers to the Queen’s speech. However much I enjoy living in Dubrovnik the one time of the year that is truly miss England is Christmas. Every house, every street and every village and town truly throws themselves into the festive spirit. Decorations light every home, Christmas trees on every corner and all the old favourite songs, from Last Christmas to Let It Snow. It really is a winter wonderland. It’s like Advent in Zagreb on a country sized scale.
I can’t wait to enter my local pub and be greeted with a raging log fire and mulled wine. Everyone will be wearing their brightly coloured Christmas jumpers, have tinsel wrapped around their shoulders and be holding a glass of some special alcoholic drink that only ever gets served over Christmas.
I have always loved Christmas Eve just as much as the big day, I guess it’s the enjoyment of the expectation, rather like tantric sex. Although I did spend most of my Christmas Eve’s last-minute shopping and then staggering drunk home, I guess you could say that’s another two traditions.
Of the fifty years that I have been walking on earth I don’t think that Christmas in England has changed at all. It’s like a warm comfort blanket that constantly reminds you of happy memories as a child. And through all the years the same music, same aroma of the Christmas pudding and same bite of winter in the air.
Christmas touches all of your senses at the same time. Christmas in Dubrovnik just doesn’t have the same feel, I’m sorry but it just doesn’t. Yes, I enjoy the sights and sounds of kolenda, the plate of Bakalar and even midnight mass, but it just doesn’t feel special. Advent in Dubrovnik started out as a good idea, and was quite impressive to start with, but over the past two years has got stuck in the mud and hasn’t moved forward at all. I personally think that the most impressive street in the world, in one of the most unique cities in the world deserves something more elegant and classy. Basically something more in keeping with the timeless surroundings. The wooden houses served a purpose to start the festival in the formative years, but a better solution should have been found by now. The decorations are passable, but it seems that they are constantly being recycled. Generally, there is no clear concept, which is a shame. I just get the feeling it could be so much better, as I have been reminded by locals on many, many occasions. But, it is a time to forgive, so I’ll forgive and pray that next year the bar is raised a little, sorry a lot, higher.
It is also a time for joy, so let’s lighten the mood. What’s the difference between snowmen and snowwomen? - Snowballs. That always makes my niece laugh. Yes, just as there are festive tunes on the radio, so there are Christmas jokes that come out once a year. Inside every Christmas cracker (a slightly odd tradition) is a cheesy joke. Such as “Why do birds fly south in the winter?” - “It's too far to walk.” Or “Why couldn’t the skeleton go to the Christmas party?” - “He had no body to go with.” Or my own personal favourite “What do you call a boomerang that doesn't come back?” – “A stick.” These, and many more will be read out around the Christmas lunch table, a table that is groaning under the sheer weight of food, yes you wouldn’t want to be a turkey at this time of year. It is a time for excess. Too much eating, drinking, spending and fun. But we all deserve it once a year.
So at this special time of the year, I wish you all a warm Christmas wrapped in the blanket of your family!