diamond geezer

 Saturday, December 24, 2022

By Christmas Eve most of us have manoeuvred ourselves into the location where we intend to spend Christmas. It might be our own home, the parental home, the home of other friends or relatives, or a hotel room somewhere on a much-deserved festive break. For some it's always the same place, for others a moveable feast, with the acquisition of in-laws often the trigger for finding yourself somewhere new.

So I thought I'd count up all the different locations I've slept on Christmas night - all the places Santa needed to know where to find me - to see how many it's been. Turns out it's eight, which may or may not be more than average.


1) A house in Hertfordshire (1965-1973)  [9 Christmases]

All my formative Christmas night experiences were here in a small Victorian two-up two-down - the bed I hung a stocking from, the chimney I firmly believed Father Christmas came down and the tree the presents magically appeared under. We had a proper chimney too, so it wasn't a complete stretch of the imagination that a man in a red suit might make his way down from the roof overnight. My Christmas stocking, which may in fact have been a fabric bag, was particularly important because it was always stuffed with little treasures like chocolates, games and quite likely one of those tiny Wade Whimsies animal figurines. My brother would have been in the bed opposite so we'd compare our hauls, which had of course been balanced by unseen parental hands, before dashing downstairs to rip thin wrapping paper off our respective boxes of delights. And then we moved house and I never spent another Christmas night here again.

2) Another house in Hertfordshire (1974-1990)  [17 Christmases]

The Christmases I best remember were here in a nearby Metroland semi-detached. I was past the "thinking Santa came down the chimney" stage by now, or imminently about to be, but that didn't stop me wanting a present to appear at the foot of the bed. Later my parents switched the tradition so that we were allowed to open one 'big present' before going to bed, which conveniently avoided the need for them to sneak into my room when I might still have been awake. Most memorable of these was the opening of the transistor radios at Christmas 1977, an event my brother still prefers to forget. We had a special corner of the front room where the tree always went, with a mountain of parcels stacked behind, and then pulled out the big table to spread for Christmas lunch, perhaps with an elderly relative as guest of honour. It was at some point during this period that I first allowed sprouts onto my plate. And Christmas night during this period always involved attending Midnight Mass, of which we choristers were an integral part, until my parents upped sticks and moved to Norfolk and I never attended another overnight service again.

3) A house in Norfolk (1991-94)  [4 Christmases]

Christmas was very different in a newly-bought village bungalow. Nobody in the house was under 20 so there was no need to pretend Santa visited down the non-existent chimney, plus we had a diminishing pile of presents to open. Also there was no rush to get up in the morning so the day often started suitably late, at least unless you were the one charged with getting the turkey in the oven. All the traditional baubles still hung from the tree, gently unwrapped from fascinating scraps of old newspaper. Before lunch the best cutlery came out of the bottom drawer, plus the special tablecloth, and everything was timed to perfection to make sure we were done in time for either Top of the Pops or The Queen. But things started changing in 1992 when my brother spent Christmas night with his future in-laws, then in 1993 we all had lunch over there and in 1994 the arrival of a baby shifted the centre of Christmas gravity forever and I never spent another Christmas night here again.

4) Another house in Norfolk (1995)  [1 Christmas]

Here's where I jumped ship and spent my first Christmas night at my brother's house, not with my parents. It was important to share the occasion with my one year-old nephew, even if he had a streaming cold and was still too young to work out what on earth was going on. During the evening we followed the instructions to build his Little Tikes Party Cafe because he was never going to manage it himself, then missed the smile on his face in the morning when he walked into the 'wrong' room and spotted it. This was the first time in years that opening our presents had taken as long as 40 minutes, my diary records, and then yet more gifts had to be opened when both sets of grandparents drove over. This might have been the location for many a Yuletide memory had not the urgent need for an extra bedroom caused my brother and his pregnant wife to find a larger house, and so I never spent another Christmas night here again.

5) Another house in Norfolk (1996-2000)  [4 Christmases]

By now Christmas had become an event I parachuted into rather than being an integral part of. The focus was firmly the generation beneath me, who soon numbered three, and they were just as excitable about the countdown to the big day as I'd been thirty years previously. The camcorder became a key Christmas tradition, charged up to record expressions of delight or indifference as the present-opening marathon continued. We had a year when a power cut hit at 5am and the turkey had to be mercy-dashed to an in-law's oven, and a year when everyone had accidentally bought Wallace and Gromit mugs for each other, and best not mention the year dominated by Barney the purple dinosaur. And then I met someone...

6) A house in Essex (1998)  [1 Christmas]

The Other Half had big plans for spending Christmas abroad, but when those came to nothing my brother's house became a grudging default option. On Christmas night bedtime was delayed while I got to listen to all sorts of maudlin tales of miserable Christmases past which had clearly been nothing like mine. In the morning deliberate reticence led to a very long lie-in, followed by the opening of four miserable gifts (to me) and one unappreciated expensive gift (from me). An unnecessary bath delayed things longer, necessitating a call to my brother to apologise that we were going to be very late, so they started eating without us and we arrived just before the pudding. It's quite the most awkward and fractious Christmas I ever endured, not that we tried to let on in front of the children, and my only comfort is that we broke up the following November so I never had to spend another Christmas night with the devil again.

7) Another house in Norfolk (2001-2019)  [19 Christmases]

My brother then moved again, setting up the default location for two decades of Christmas night tradition. I now get to catch the train up to Norfolk a day or two before, perhaps help with last-minute shopping at Sainsburys and attempt to help with the creation of the homemade sausage rolls. I graze on whichever tubs of sweets have been opened before the big day and try to get out of playing Monopoly if humanly possible. I remind everyone when the Snowman's on, plus Carols at Kings, and assist with the assembly of any major presents. That Playmobil castle took absolutely ages. Before midnight I bed down on the floor of the office, or any other better surface that may have become available that year, and am woken at a time that's varied from stupid o'clock to semi-reasonable as the children have got older. There's crackling to be snaffled and more gifts to open as two waves of grandparents arrive, and eventually comes the big meal at the long table with its sadly decreasing number of seats. It's totally where I spend my Christmas night now, or was until the year it didn't happen.

8) My flat in London (2020-2021)  [2 Christmases]

I never thought I'd get to spend Christmas in my own home, the day's too much of a family occasion for that, but in 2020 a global pandemic conspired to keep us all apart. It did it again in 2021, advisedly, last minute, gifting me two Christmases on my tod. It was strange going into Christmas night alone, and strange not seeing anyone opening anything, and particularly strange that cooking Christmas dinner became entirely my responsibility. I managed an overflowing plate with turkey and sprouts, if not the full complement of trimmings, plus microwaved pudding and custard for afters. One luxury of spending Christmas by yourself is that the TV remote is under your sole control meaning you can watch anything and everything you like, so I did, rather than getting home several days later and catching up on what I'd videoed. It was interesting as a one-off, and OK as a two-off, but I suspect I'll never spend another Christmas night here again.

This year I'm spending Christmas night in Norfolk again, but just for a change in house number 3 rather than house number 7. I've decided to kick off the day with my Dad not my brother, indeed I'm there already, although we're driving over to his for lunch and hopefully arriving before the crackling runs out. So it's still just the eight locations for Christmas night for me, and no sign that anyone's yet planning on branching out and buying a ninth. Wherever you're staying, and however many it's been, may you wake to a joyful and memorable Christmas.


<< click for Newer posts

click for Older Posts >>


click to return to the main page


...or read more in my monthly archives
Jan24  Feb24  Mar24  Apr24  May24  Jun24
Jan23  Feb23  Mar23  Apr23  May23  Jun23  Jul23  Aug23  Sep23  Oct23  Nov23  Dec23
Jan22  Feb22  Mar22  Apr22  May22  Jun22  Jul22  Aug22  Sep22  Oct22  Nov22  Dec22
Jan21  Feb21  Mar21  Apr21  May21  Jun21  Jul21  Aug21  Sep21  Oct21  Nov21  Dec21
Jan20  Feb20  Mar20  Apr20  May20  Jun20  Jul20  Aug20  Sep20  Oct20  Nov20  Dec20
Jan19  Feb19  Mar19  Apr19  May19  Jun19  Jul19  Aug19  Sep19  Oct19  Nov19  Dec19
Jan18  Feb18  Mar18  Apr18  May18  Jun18  Jul18  Aug18  Sep18  Oct18  Nov18  Dec18
Jan17  Feb17  Mar17  Apr17  May17  Jun17  Jul17  Aug17  Sep17  Oct17  Nov17  Dec17
Jan16  Feb16  Mar16  Apr16  May16  Jun16  Jul16  Aug16  Sep16  Oct16  Nov16  Dec16
Jan15  Feb15  Mar15  Apr15  May15  Jun15  Jul15  Aug15  Sep15  Oct15  Nov15  Dec15
Jan14  Feb14  Mar14  Apr14  May14  Jun14  Jul14  Aug14  Sep14  Oct14  Nov14  Dec14
Jan13  Feb13  Mar13  Apr13  May13  Jun13  Jul13  Aug13  Sep13  Oct13  Nov13  Dec13
Jan12  Feb12  Mar12  Apr12  May12  Jun12  Jul12  Aug12  Sep12  Oct12  Nov12  Dec12
Jan11  Feb11  Mar11  Apr11  May11  Jun11  Jul11  Aug11  Sep11  Oct11  Nov11  Dec11
Jan10  Feb10  Mar10  Apr10  May10  Jun10  Jul10  Aug10  Sep10  Oct10  Nov10  Dec10 
Jan09  Feb09  Mar09  Apr09  May09  Jun09  Jul09  Aug09  Sep09  Oct09  Nov09  Dec09
Jan08  Feb08  Mar08  Apr08  May08  Jun08  Jul08  Aug08  Sep08  Oct08  Nov08  Dec08
Jan07  Feb07  Mar07  Apr07  May07  Jun07  Jul07  Aug07  Sep07  Oct07  Nov07  Dec07
Jan06  Feb06  Mar06  Apr06  May06  Jun06  Jul06  Aug06  Sep06  Oct06  Nov06  Dec06
Jan05  Feb05  Mar05  Apr05  May05  Jun05  Jul05  Aug05  Sep05  Oct05  Nov05  Dec05
Jan04  Feb04  Mar04  Apr04  May04  Jun04  Jul04  Aug04  Sep04  Oct04  Nov04  Dec04
Jan03  Feb03  Mar03  Apr03  May03  Jun03  Jul03  Aug03  Sep03  Oct03  Nov03  Dec03
 Jan02  Feb02  Mar02  Apr02  May02  Jun02  Jul02 Aug02  Sep02  Oct02  Nov02  Dec02 

jack of diamonds
Life viewed from London E3

» email me
» follow me on twitter
» follow the blog on Twitter
» follow the blog on RSS

» my flickr photostream

twenty blogs
our bow
arseblog
ian visits
londonist
broken tv
blue witch
on london
the great wen
edith's streets
spitalfields life
linkmachinego
round the island
wanstead meteo
christopher fowler
the greenwich wire
bus and train user
ruth's coastal walk
round the rails we go
london reconnections
from the murky depths

quick reference features
Things to do in Outer London
Things to do outside London
London's waymarked walks
Inner London toilet map
20 years of blog series
The DG Tour of Britain
London's most...

read the archive
Jun24  May24
Apr24  Mar24  Feb24  Jan24
Dec23  Nov23  Oct23  Sep23
Aug23  Jul23  Jun23  May23
Apr23  Mar23  Feb23  Jan23
Dec22  Nov22  Oct22  Sep22
Aug22  Jul22  Jun22  May22
Apr22  Mar22  Feb22  Jan22
Dec21  Nov21  Oct21  Sep21
Aug21  Jul21  Jun21  May21
Apr21  Mar21  Feb21  Jan21
Dec20  Nov20  Oct20  Sep20
Aug20  Jul20  Jun20  May20
Apr20  Mar20  Feb20  Jan20
Dec19  Nov19  Oct19  Sep19
Aug19  Jul19  Jun19  May19
Apr19  Mar19  Feb19  Jan19
Dec18  Nov18  Oct18  Sep18
Aug18  Jul18  Jun18  May18
Apr18  Mar18  Feb18  Jan18
Dec17  Nov17  Oct17  Sep17
Aug17  Jul17  Jun17  May17
Apr17  Mar17  Feb17  Jan17
Dec16  Nov16  Oct16  Sep16
Aug16  Jul16  Jun16  May16
Apr16  Mar16  Feb16  Jan16
Dec15  Nov15  Oct15  Sep15
Aug15  Jul15  Jun15  May15
Apr15  Mar15  Feb15  Jan15
Dec14  Nov14  Oct14  Sep14
Aug14  Jul14  Jun14  May14
Apr14  Mar14  Feb14  Jan14
Dec13  Nov13  Oct13  Sep13
Aug13  Jul13  Jun13  May13
Apr13  Mar13  Feb13  Jan13
Dec12  Nov12  Oct12  Sep12
Aug12  Jul12  Jun12  May12
Apr12  Mar12  Feb12  Jan12
Dec11  Nov11  Oct11  Sep11
Aug11  Jul11  Jun11  May11
Apr11  Mar11  Feb11  Jan11
Dec10  Nov10  Oct10  Sep10
Aug10  Jul10  Jun10  May10
Apr10  Mar10  Feb10  Jan10
Dec09  Nov09  Oct09  Sep09
Aug09  Jul09  Jun09  May09
Apr09  Mar09  Feb09  Jan09
Dec08  Nov08  Oct08  Sep08
Aug08  Jul08  Jun08  May08
Apr08  Mar08  Feb08  Jan08
Dec07  Nov07  Oct07  Sep07
Aug07  Jul07  Jun07  May07
Apr07  Mar07  Feb07  Jan07
Dec06  Nov06  Oct06  Sep06
Aug06  Jul06  Jun06  May06
Apr06  Mar06  Feb06  Jan06
Dec05  Nov05  Oct05  Sep05
Aug05  Jul05  Jun05  May05
Apr05  Mar05  Feb05  Jan05
Dec04  Nov04  Oct04  Sep04
Aug04  Jul04  Jun04  May04
Apr04  Mar04  Feb04  Jan04
Dec03  Nov03  Oct03  Sep03
Aug03  Jul03  Jun03  May03
Apr03  Mar03  Feb03  Jan03
Dec02  Nov02  Oct02  Sep02
back to main page

the diamond geezer index
2023 2022
2021 2020 2019 2018 2017
2016 2015 2014 2013 2012
2011 2010 2009 2008 2007
2006 2005 2004 2003 2002

my special London features
a-z of london museums
E3 - local history month
greenwich meridian (N)
greenwich meridian (S)
the real eastenders
london's lost rivers
olympic park 2007
great british roads
oranges & lemons
random boroughs
bow road station
high street 2012
river westbourne
trafalgar square
capital numbers
east london line
lea valley walk
olympics 2005
regent's canal
square routes
silver jubilee
unlost rivers
cube routes
Herbert Dip
metro-land
capital ring
river fleet
piccadilly
bakerloo

ten of my favourite posts
the seven ages of blog
my new Z470xi mobile
five equations of blog
the dome of doom
chemical attraction
quality & risk
london 2102
single life
boredom
april fool

ten sets of lovely photos
my "most interesting" photos
london 2012 olympic zone
harris and the hebrides
betjeman's metro-land
marking the meridian
tracing the river fleet
london's lost rivers
inside the gherkin
seven sisters
iceland

just surfed in?
here's where to find...
diamond geezers
flash mob #1  #2  #3  #4
ben schott's miscellany
london underground
watch with mother
cigarette warnings
digital time delay
wheelie suitcases
war of the worlds
transit of venus
top of the pops
old buckenham
ladybird books
acorn antiques
digital watches
outer hebrides
olympics 2012
school dinners
pet shop boys
west wycombe
bletchley park
george orwell
big breakfast
clapton pond
san francisco
thunderbirds
routemaster
children's tv
east enders
trunk roads
amsterdam
little britain
credit cards
jury service
big brother
jubilee line
number 1s
titan arum
typewriters
doctor who
coronation
comments
blue peter
matchgirls
hurricanes
buzzwords
brookside
monopoly
peter pan
starbucks
feng shui
leap year
manbags
bbc three
vision on
piccadilly
meridian
concorde
wembley
islington
ID cards
bedtime
freeview
beckton
blogads
eclipses
letraset
arsenal
sitcoms
gherkin
calories
everest
muffins
sudoku
camilla
london
ceefax
robbie
becks
dome
BBC2
paris
lotto
118
itv