An Alternative Christmas
Many years ago I had a friend who ran a catering company. He and I came up with a nice idea; to hire his caterers for a Christmas meal one week before Christmas. The plan was to have them come in, set up a table, decorate it, cook and take everything away after. The dinner would be for all those of our friends who could not enjoy Christmas Day themselves, because they’d be paying visits to care homes or elderly relatives, acting as carers or having to work.
It proved a huge success, and expanded to include around 30 people each year. We added a piano for a carol service and it became a Christmas fixture. With the death of my business partner we discontinued it. Then one Christmas we found that we had now joined the ranks of those who travelled to look after others on Christmas Day – our Christmas dinner was starting to consist of a sandwich in a roadside cafe on the way to or from elders – so two years ago we revived the tradition. This time we hired a restaurant as the catering company was defunct, and it’s back up to twenty friends already. As the onus is upon us to care for those in poorer health, this is a way of giving thanks and preparing for the season ahead.
The venues require a way that we can change seating three times in the course of the dinner so that we all get to share conversation with each other, and involves an unfeasibly complicated gift-exchange so that everyone gets the something they want.
We try to vary the guests a bit so that we can catch up with people we haven’t seen for a while, and as we’ve already had our first (short) snowfall this year we’re hoping that some atmospheric weather will be provided. In central London it’s still possible to get booking for large numbers at the moment as so many people head out of town.