The Christmas Song

You didn’t know the name, right? Pretty much no one knows the name (bit of a fail there by the writers to start with). But pretty much everyone knows the lyrics.

‘Chestnuts roasting on an open fire…’

I get foolishly nostagic over chestnuts. Despite the massive disappointment that ensues.

It was fun, as a child, gathering them from the woodland on the one edge of our village.

It was fun, as a child, being taken to the city to see the Christmas lights, and visit Father Christmas in a department store grotto. And then there’d be hot chestnuts bought from a man with a brazier on the street…

…as I did as a young adult, living in France for a year, and visiting a Paris flea market with friends.

And then there was a chestnut hunt with a boyfriend.

And then chestnut hunts with my son when he was little.


Cook them under a domestic grill, or in the oven, and no matter how carefully you slit them, at least one will explode. Almight bang and a LOT of mess.

Buy a bag and at least one will be rotten, and several impossible to peel.

I paid £2.50 in a Christmas street market in November. The shells were ALL still soft, so wouldn’t crack open. 

I ended up with:

  •  a bag of shells/bits that was bigger than when I started. 
  • a bit of shell embedded painfully down my left thumbnail. 
  • nibbling bits of nut out of the shells rather than getting any out in whole pieces
  • probably eating the equivalent of maybe three whole nuts.

On a ‘gardening’ note

Chestnuts are an autumn thing. We used to gather them to eat on Bonfire Night (November 5). Come Christmas, they are going to be well past their best.

And then there is open fires

  • Hard work (preparing, lighting, cleaning out). 
  • Harmful to health (particulates). 
  • Most of the heat goes up the chimney. 
  • You can’t set them on a timer.

Let it Snow

‘And since we’ve no place to go

’Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow.’

That’s at best thoughtless, at worst downright selfish.

Just because the singer can hunker down with popcorn and the lights turned low – what about those who have to work outdoors, for instance?

Fairytale of New York

Every radio DJ introduces this, every year, as their personal favourite. In a tone of awe at it being a bit edgy, a bit different from the other Christmas songs.

You are fooling no one.

It may have been edgy in 1987, when it was first released.

But that was 32 years ago, and the novelty has worn really thin since then.

This year, the tune features in the soundtrack (on British commercial TV channels) for a high street bank.

‘Nuff said.

White Christmas

So, it’s dripping with nostalgia and sentiment, right? And conjures up cosy images of happy families in houses bedecked with garlands and tinsel. And all that jazz.

What’s to hate?

Sure, the tree tops may glisten, and the children listen for the sound of sleigh bells.

But if you haven’t got a sleigh and magic reindeer and need to go anywhere, a white Christmas is downright dangerous.

Flights, trains, buses cancelled

My journey back from France one Christmas was a nightmare of cancellations either side of a ferry trip that it was reckoned hit ice in Southampton Water. There were a few clonks, for sure, though ice may not have been the cause.

If you have to go to work, if you have to shop (or expect shops to deliver to you), NO ONE in their right mind wants snow/ice. Ever.

If you or your loved ones need to travel to be together, a white Christmas could end up being ‘it will be lonely this Christmas’. Either that, or a lot of worry and anxiety about safety.

Be prepared, or not

Even countries geared up to months of snow each winter aren’t safe. A week in Iceland a few years ago included the tour bus coming off the road one day. Luckily, no one was hurt. And luckily, there was a café within walking distance as we had to evacuate the bus (it was tilting heavily, one wheel sunk in mud) and wait an hour for a tractor to tow it out. In a blizzard.

Two days later, we were stranded in a tiny town for hours, as the police shut all the roads because of the weather.

Oh, and taking photos of frozen waterfalls pretty much killed my old SLR.

But children love it, don’t they?

For an hour or two, tops. 

Because while snow is exciting viewed from indoors, it is cold and wet.

You build a snowman, throw a few snowballs, slide down a slope in the park – pretty soon, you are wet, and cold, and can’t wait to go indoors and change into warm, dry clothes.

Meanwhile, snow and ice kill plants.

I rest my case.

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