If Dickens wrote A Christmas Carol today, Scrooge would shout down to the boy in the street something along the lines of: “Run down to Fortnums and fetch me the top shelf nut roast! But make sure you get something gluten free too. And sod it, everyone likes chocolate. Just get something that no one will notice is dairy free! And don’t forget Uncle Pete is off the booze.”
Not as easy to work into a carol as “big fat goose”, is it?
You’ve got the best of intentions. You want to be veggie for the environment, of course. You want to support local businesses instead of the multi-billion pound supermarket chains – naturally. But let’s face it – Christmas is all about nostalgia, and if we can’t indulge a little and bend the rules at Christmas then what is even the point?
When I was a child, it wasn’t Christmas until we’d made gingerbread houses. Well, my mum always called them gingerbread houses, but we made them with salty crackers, cement-thick royal icing, and sprayed them with bug spray to finish. Needless to say they were never going to be eaten. But I suppose a real gingerbread house is impractical in the tropics. (Was that a humble brag? Oof, sorry about that one.)
Anywho – My mum would cover our giant dining table in a plastic tablecloth and put out bowls full of smarties and coloured icing and gummy bears and whatever odd assortment of sweets she happened to pick up at the supermarket. Then my sisters and I would each get down to building our own little structures. Originally designed, of course. There was no template or instructions. My structure was never overly ambitious. More often than not I went for a basic A-frame open both front and back. I laid some gummy bears down on their fronts and called it a barn for the animals. I spent more time on landscaping; covering twigs of rosemary in icing to be snow-covered pine trees, building fences of pretzel sticks and midget gems, and garden paths of smarties. In the end we’d arrange all of our unique (and often bizarre) structures into a little village that would sit on the sideboard as decoration for the duration of the season, or until the ants finally invaded. I guess bug spray does eventually wear off.
So my Christmas nostalgia is really all about gingerbread houses. These days I make them edible; partly because I’ve got a massive sweet tooth and partly because I don’t like the waste of using food purely for decoration. Plus, I no longer live in the tropics. My engineering skills remain extremely limited, but I have moved on from A-frame to classic cottage. I’m lucky, I suppose, that my core Christmas tradition translates so easily to vegan.
What is your core Christmas tradition? Finish this sentence: It’s just not Christmas until…
Is yours 2022-proof? Or is December your “cheat month” where anything goes in the name of tradition?
I’m inviting you to jump onto my nostalgia train and make a festive vegan gingerbread house. Head over to my shop to get your kit this winter.