“My mother is not a foodie. But for as long as I can remember, once a year, she becomes possessed of a profound and desperate need to serve up a perfect roast turkey. Faced with a walk into the village though, she might think ‘oh, f*** it’ and decide to get a frozen one from Bejams on the 23rd and leave it to defrost in the downstairs toilet for not quite 48 hours.”
From perennially dry turkeys to Christmas pudding fires, from the round robin code of conduct to the risks and rewards of re-gifting, “An almost perfect Christmas” is an ode to the joy and insanity of the most wonderful time of the year.
We all have our own Christmas traditions. Mine include eating my body weight in Quality Street, suddenly becoming a morning person on December 25th and constantly refreshing the Lush website on Boxing Day in a bid to get that elusive 500ml bottle of Snow Fairy in the sale.
The wonderful Nina Stibbe has also had her own Christmas traditions throughout her life, some of which include avoiding the Christmas pudding at all costs, writing to Santa yet fretting that an sneaky elf would never deliver the letter and doubting her love for Merry Xmas Everybody by Slade, only to decide it’s actually the best Christmas song ever written (especially after fifteen renditions of Silent Night.)
In this gorgeous anthology Nina shares these traditions plus other hilarious anecdotes which will have you guffawing with laughter and nodding your head in recognition.
Whether it’s reminiscing over her mother’s obsession with the turkey not turning out dry, her deciphering of thank-you notes or her ultimate guide to Christmas shopping – Nina has all of Christmas covered in this wonderful collection which is also interspersed with brilliant short stories (A Present for Teacher was my personal favourite.)
Nina is a great writer. She is naturally funny and her sense of humour is spot on whilst ensuring that she doesn’t take herself too seriously. Her essays are short, sharp and will resonate on so many levels.
Nina is no scrooge. She loves Christmas just as much as the next person, yet sometimes her organisation doesn’t quite go to plan (and let’s face it – we’ve all been there…) Whether it’s food, family or fairy lights, Nina manages to make even the most disastrous of events funny with her dry wit and sarcasm.
I loved this book and only wish it were longer. I could have read many more of her hilarious yet charming Christmas stories and they certainly put me in a festive mood.
As someone who is already a Nina Stibbe fan this was an automatic read for me anyway, but if you find yourself panicking about where Great Aunt Joan will sit on Christmas day or running out of heritage carrots, then I highly advise you get to your local library, borrow this book & take some time out and sit down with this delightful ode to the festive season. It will make you smile, relax and generally feel much better about Christmas and life in general. I guarantee it.
So don’t panic if your turkey is dry – you can always ‘chill with a chop’ and as Nina herself proves, you can never have enough versions on Silent Night on your playlist…
Borrow An almost perfect Christmas by Nina Stibbe from Warwickshire Libraries.