11 December 2011

My Favourite Christmas... by Tamar Cohen

Welcome back to my Christmas 2011 feature! As you know, I've asked lots of authors to write something about their favourite Christmas, and I've been lucky to have a great response. Today, I have the pleasure of welcoming the brilliant The Mistresses Revenge author, Tamar Cohen!

"Favourite Christmas? They’re all favourites!

I have to say I’m not a natural Christmas person. To be honest, each November brings with it a sense of unease that builds until, by December, it has blossomed into full-blown panic. As a mother-of-three, the expectations of me seem so impossibly high. And being a rubbish-present-buying, non-cooking type of person makes me feel even more of a miserable under-achiever in the festive stakes. But here’s a funny thing: in spite of my inherent Scrouginess, I invariably end up loving Christmas.  I can’t pick out a single favourite as all are pretty much spent the same way - with my partner and kids, plus mum, sister, her family and sometimes my brother too. There’s something so reassuring about family traditions – even if those traditions mostly revolve around eating your bodyweight in Quality Streets and spending the day failing to coax recalcitrant kids into a Nice Bracing Walk. For four years between 2004 and 2008, we lived in Southern Spain and had a few Christmases there, which broke the usual festive mould. Breakfast on the terrace overlooking the Mediterranean, Turkey cooked in the outside bread oven, and a nice walk down to the beach rounded off with, for the more hardy of us (of which I’m certainly not one) a quick dip in the sea. Idyllic, but somehow not the same. Not Christmas As We Know It. One year my oldest son performed an ill-judged back flip off a rock, smashed his head as he came down and we ended up spending the rest of Christmas Day in the local A&E, while the in-laws waited at home wearing wilting paper hats and the turkey burnt to a crisp. Give me a traditional British eat-and-drink-all-day-in-front-of-the-telly Christmas any day – so much safer!

Favourite Christmas movie

There’s something about Christmas isn’t there, that allows you to set aside your critical faculties and wallow in schmaltz without feeling the least bit embarrassed? I can’t watch Love Actually at any other time of year without a cynical voice in my head reminding me I’m being emotionally manipulated, but at Christmas I become a total romantic. Andrew Lincoln standing outside in the cold with carols playing on a boombox and his declaration of unrequited love scrawled in black felt pen on giant cue cards. ‘To me you are perfect’. Come on, who wouldn’t melt just a little bit?

Favourite Christmas food

As a long-time vegetarian, I can take or leave Christmas dinner itself. But Christmas Day brunch? Now that’s a completely different kettle of smoked salmon. In our house, it’s the whole traditional hog – champagne and orange juice (in my mum’s case, just the champers – ‘what’s the point in spoiling perfectly good bubbly?’ she says), bagels and blinis, cream cheese, smoked salmon, twists of lemon, plenty of ground black pepper. Pre-brunch, the house is full of grumpy teenagers who’ve been woken up approximately a million hours before their habitual holiday wake-up time, and hyperactive younger children who’ve already consumed their entire chocolate selection box by 6.30am, but as soon as that first cork pops, smiles appear as if by magic and Christmas officially starts.

Favouite Christmas photo

This one of my dog Toffee last year after the kids dressed her up as a reindeer."

You can read my review of Tamar's debut novel 'The Mistresses Revenge' here. You can also buy the book in paperback and as an eBook!

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