What makes Christmas Christmas? Having all the family back together? Midnight Mass? A peck on the cheek under the mistletoe?
Though lockdown will temporarily lift come the 25th, those – and many of our other favorite festive things – will either be further down the agenda than usual, or have to be left off it entirely.
So strap in for sanitised stocking fillers, long-lost rellies checking in via video link, ticketed carol services, and – as he tells us from under his mask – a Father Christmas with his work cut out. Also spare a thought for bars, restaurants, and pubs. Christmas is usually their busiest period, but we won’t be having festive work dos, or seeing in the New Year, at our favourite haunts.
There will, however, always be pigs in blankets. And mince pies. And mulled wine. And late night cold turkey sandwiches. Could good food be the silver-tinselled lining of Christmas 2020? Lockdown has helped people rekindle their relationship with cooking from scratch, and Christmas is the perfect excuse to put that into action. Expect to find a bounty of homemade pickles under the tree this year.
If food is central to the proceedings, then a roast bird is the centrepiece. This year, as family gatherings shrink in size, some turkey farmers are slaughtering their birds before they’d fatten them up. For our supplier Goodman’s, whose turkeys are slow-grown for a more concentrated flavour, small is the right size anyway. Goodman’s also predict goose will be popular this Christmas, as one bird is usually enough to feed smaller parties.
As for restaurants, don’t rule them out entirely. Some are responding to Christmas shut-ins with office banquets, mixology workshops via Zoom, and chefs instructing classes on their signature dishes. Much like they have done since, dozens of our favourite restaurants, including Patty & Bun, AngloThai, and Kricket are sending meal kits through the post this December.
Those who celebrate Diwali and Eid al-Fitr have seen what it’s like, this business of a major holiday going on behind closed doors and masked faces, and restricted to smaller gatherings. It won’t be the traditional picture of Christmas and New Year. But it’s what we need to ensure we enjoy the next one – if all goes well – just as we want to.
HG Walter Christmas orders are taken up to the 16th of December. More on that here.