Unlike the 1970s band Wizzard I don’t wish it could be Christmas every day. I am fine with it being Christmas one day a year and I am happy for that day to be Christmas Day. This is certainly one notable occasion where the compilers of the calendar of hit the nail on the ruddy head. You really have to have it as close to Christmas Eve as possible, otherwise Christmas Eve is a massive tease. So, the next day is perfect for having Christmas Day.
Did Christmas Day get less good or did I just get old? I think the answer lies betwixt the two.
Christmas Day used to be this for me:
- Get up very early and open lots of presents
- Be giddy about all my new possessions
- Christmas Day tea and toast (this would become a Christmas Day fry-up in latter years)
- Watch my Mum cry to Noel’s Christmas Presents in between reading annuals (Rupert, Shoot, Roy of The Rovers, Beano, Whizzer & Chips)
- Watch Film received as a Christmas present and not pay proper attention due to giddiness/lack of sleep
- Get dressed before visits from family members
- Eagerly list all gifts to aunties/cousins – trying to remember which one they had got me so I could say how good a present it was; the major drawback with this was that I used to rip open my presents with the fervour of a zombie setting about a non-zombie person and thus never read the labels
- Listen to female relatives have a contest to speak the loudest – generally this would be a draw (with no-one winning)
- Watch Christmas Top of The Pops with genuine excitement
- Sit down for Christmas dinner at 3 in time to have The Queen’s speech on – which we did without fail but I am almost certain that none of us ever paid it any attention whatsoever; does anyone? Pretty sure she could say whatever she wanted and only four people would notice (Ian Hislop, Prince Andrew, Unnamed EDL member & the actor Jack Black)
- Watch whatever film was showing on BBC1 while recovering from thoroughly good Christmas dinner; film would be something often people hadn’t seen unless they had seen it at the cinema
- Play a board game received as a present – this would be the only time it would be played, though it wouldn’t be thrown away for a further seven years
- Watch Only Fools and Horses Christmas Special with genuine excitement (in the case of the Miami Twice debacle be thoroughly disappointed)
- Bath and (new) pyjamas, dressing gown and slippers on in time for Coronation Street and Eastenders
- Second round of tea and toast (in later years this would become turkey and stuffing muffins)
- Whatever film was on BBC1 while eating chocolate
There is no point pretending that this isn’t slightly romanticised – slightly sad that a boy describing eating and watching television as romantic but that’s what I enjoy(ed).
Thankfully there is a way of looking back to check at least some of the above. Christmas Day 1988 BBC1 and ITV schedules are available online. It’s brilliant that this exists may I say. I choose 1988 because I was ten – old enough that I was appreciating more than children’s television but still young enough to be in complete awe of Christmas. Well Noel Edmonds was on but it was just called (imaginatively) Christmas Morning with Noel¹. How could they not do a pun on his name? Eastenders was on a two and not later – I can’t remember when this shifted. It is right that it is no longer on so early because it’s so fucking shit and depressing it should not be on when there are children around.
OFaH was on though. The film was Back to The Future – only three years after it was released! I am tempted to say that I watched the (MOVIE PREMIERE!!!) of 1980’s The Empire Strikes Back on ITV but I was a slave to the BBC. Maybe I taped TESB. Songs of Praise was on Christmas Day at half-six. Can you imagine that now? 45 minutes of religious singing at tea-time on Christmas Day? Fuck no. Then it was Bread (“my life is hanging by a thread”, “I’m a model”,” TART!” etc) and The Russ Abbot Christmas Show which I bet I fucking lapped up. Even though it was horse-shit.
Corrie was on as well – hey it was 24 years ago not 200 years ago. Then ITV’s big thing for the night was a festive edition of dramatised emergency services show London’s Burning. I definitely didn’t watch that as I never watched London’s Burning or The Bill – foot firmly in The Casualty ultras, this one. I must have watched one of the other TWO channels available as I didn’t watch the BBC1 film – I’ve never fucking heard of it, Silverado??? Perhaps I went to bed early – to play with my Christmas presents, which was almost certainly two United kits and a United tracksuit if I have my timeline accurately.
Nostalgia aint what it used to be!
¹It wouldn’t be on the 1989 schedule – though the bearded bastard did front a festive edition of Telly Addicts in the evening. I fucking loved Telly Addicts. How do shows like that stop getting made? Noel did return to reuniting-people-for-Christmas TV genre in 1990 when the show did indeed be called Noel’s Christmas Presents and was his presence on the TV meaning that when you said it loud either could be correct.
Merry Christmas one and all!