The five guests I would like to have for Christmas dinner

Being a student doesn’t always mean crashing back home at Christmas for lie-ins, parties and then staggering in a drunken haze to the lunch table expecting the full turkey works – un

Being a student doesn’t always mean crashing back home at Christmas for lie-ins, parties and then staggering in a drunken haze to the lunch table expecting the full turkey works – unfortunately. Being a mature student I’m half expecting my student daughter to do the above whilst I fret in a hot kitchen and panic about forgetting to get up at some ungodly hour to switch the oven on in the first place.

However just supposing I didn’t have a Christmas family lunch to arrange, it got me thinking about the five people I would have at my Christmas table. Obviously I’m taking the poetic licence approach and not including my available nearest and dearest, because they would normally be top of my list. (Phew, Xmas pressies probably still secure.) Also I’m assuming that since the Christmas Fairy is granting me this wish I won’t have to worry about doing the cooking. If I’m lucky enough to have these people at my table I think she could also provide a chef.

So on this proviso my first decision is NOT to have Delia Smith. Apart from the fact she may decide to take over the cooking she would probably be gloating about Norwich’s success in the Premiership this year. I’m a Watford supporter and it might leave a nasty taste in my mouth. The last thing I want at a Christmas lunch.

On a more positive note, the first through the door is Father Christmas. Tired and weary from his travels through the night I think he would deserve another sherry/whiskey/brandy/glass of mulled wine whilst he puts his feet up waiting for the other guests. Imagine the tales he could tell – and none of them would involve traffic jams, petrol prices or parking problems. I’m sure he’d appreciate sitting down and being waited on for a change.

Then Artaban arrives. You probably know him best as the fourth wise man who never made it to Bethlehem because he was too busy helping a dying man and he became separated from his companions. Apparently he spent his whole life looking for Christ and kept being thwarted by his own acts of kindness. I think someone like that deserves to stop searching and have a good old fashioned turkey dinner, don’t you? It would also serve as a tiny reminder at this time of year that if any of us have put off our own spiritual journey through looking after children or caring for others then maybe it is time to re evaluate what our journey really was? It might prove quite satisfying.

Surprisingly the next person at the door is my dad. Now he passed away suddenly 20 years ago – and I don’t care who knows it, but Christmas has never been the same since. He was the life and soul of any party and had his Christmas traditions which hopefully will be carried through the generations. This means that he will be in charge of cutting the Christmas pudding in a clockwise direction and handing it round in an opposite direction. Looking at my place settings this means Father Christmas will be getting the first slice, which is just as well as he is rather sleepy and could do with retiring early. My dad will also be in charge of sorting out some decent wine for the meal. I knew it was worth inviting him. I’d also be able to tell him what I’ve been up to since he has gone and show him pictures of the grandchildren he never met. I’m hoping he’d be quite proud.

I’d also like to invite the poor angel at the top of our tree. ‘Why?’ I hear you ask. Well, she spends about 50 weeks stuck in a box in the loft wrapped in tissue paper. Then when she finally sees the light of day we stick a branch up her somewhat tatty lacy dress and shine a tiny bulb in her face for the next two weeks. Call me soft but if anyone deserves a decent glass of bubbly and some sprouts cooked with almonds, it is she.

Now there is one place left and since it is Christmas Day I thought I should ask God. Let’s face it if it wasn’t for him we wouldn’t have anything to celebrate. I guess it’s quite a busy day for him – you know what it’s like on your child’s birthday, when everyone wants to come and see you and tell you what a lovely child you have? No, nobody did for my children either, because they too were born on a bank holiday and no one was ever available for parties. But remember, poetic licence…) I still think I’d invite him anyway. Imagine tucking into some gorgeous roast potatoes cooked in goose fat and claiming, ‘God, these are delicious!’ and him actually saying, ‘Oh, well, I didn’t cook them, I just supplied the earth they were grown in…’

The lunch would be a great success I feel. Some traditional characters bringing the spirit of Christmas to my table. Of course reality would soon kick in; Father Christmas would undoubtedly fall asleep after too much wine and my Dad would want to watch The Dad’s Army Christmas special instead of a game of monopoly with us all. (Mmm, I’m beginning now, after all these years, to see his point.) God would probably disapprove of all the gluttony going on at the table and before you know it, Artaban would up sticks and be off on his searching before he’s had a chance to have a piece of iced cake. Which means it’ll probably be thrown to the birds mid January when it is discovered at the back of a cupboard.  Perhaps this is a better fate than being wrapped in paper and being shoved back in the loft? I think the angel would say so. 

Yet, despite all that it would have been an interesting day. My only regret would be forgetting to ask Father Christmas about that year he put my sister’s presents in my stocking and mine in hers. Still, I think it was the same year we didn’t have much wine at the lunch table the next day. So maybe I’ll ask my Dad about that instead.

Happy Christmas Everyone – whoever is coming to lunch.