REMEMBER joyful hours of sledging on crisp white snow, or chestnuts roasting on an open fire? No, because the reality was somewhat different, as follows.
Idealised version: The last day at school was brilliant.
Grim reality: The hard kids hogged the game of Crossfire someone brought in. You ‘won’ a single Quality Street for making a shit Christmas hat from a shoe box.
Idealised version: You spent the holiday sledging down hillsides blanketed in snow.
Grim reality: Your sledge kept stopping after three metres due to being on a thin layer of snow atop muddy grass, and no local hills were steep enough to maintain any momentum. You came to realise that the sledging on Christmas cards is nothing more than a filthy lie.
Idealised version: The Christmas tree was magical.
Grim reality: The tree was one of those wire ones with half the tinsel missing which threatened to have your eye out.
Idealised version: You ate traditional roasted chestnuts.
Grim reality: False memory syndrome. There were no roasted chestnuts. You saw them in a film and desperately wanted some but your parents couldn’t be bothered. You had to make do with Twiglets, despite the smell alone making you want to puke.
Idealised version: You excitedly unwrapped endless presents on Christmas morning and played with them all day.
Grim reality: Toys R Us was sold out of everything that year, so you made do with what you got. It was hard to convincingly incorporate Action Man French Resistance fighter into your Star Wars universe (Lando, a Jawa and Bespin Guard).
Idealised version: You took part in a wonderful school carol service.
Grim reality: Your dad was visibly desperate to leave, which was fair enough because the carols were a hideous cacophony of high-pitched voices with a handful of show-off parents acting out their frustrated dreams of musical stardom.
Idealised version: All your favourite relatives came round for Christmas dinner with all the trimmings.
Grim reality: Your Uncle Pete dropped off a Toblerone for the family to share. All your relatives hated each other with a vengeance for minor slights over the years, so the chances of them having Christmas dinner together were nil. Still, preferable to a festive stabbing with the carving fork.
Idealised version: You lost yourself in Christmas books – that’s where your love of reading comes from.
Grim reality: You got an LED Pac-Man game you played solidly in 14-hour shifts. You probably still have some residual brain damage. No immersing yourself in Narnia was involved. It probably explains why the extent of your literary knowledge is the first two chapters of The Da Vinci Code.
Idealised version: You built a fabulous snowman.
Grim reality: There was just enough snow to make one about 18 inches tall, although it contained a fair bit of soil. If Raymond Briggs had based The Snowman on it, he would have sold precisely no copies because it looked like a goblin with a skin disease.