For those interested, there is still no snow. We're basking in highs of 7 or 8 (celsius) and the Praguers (Praguees?) I've spoken to are all saying things like, "It doesn't feel like Christmas at all. It's much too warm." This is despite the presence of Christmas-tree salesman by practically every metro station, lights on pretty much every building downtown, Christmas markets full of glittery tat, choirs singing carols and svařak everywhere. Some of them have been reduced to watching snow cams from the Tyrol and Krkonoše mountains to meet their visual quota of the white stuff.
But it is always odd what makes people feel Christmassy, or festival-y of any kind. For me, the feeling is built up out of many layers, some more fragile than others. The obnoxiously loud singing of Christmas carols (pref. with surprise soprano descant that scales the Flipper-summoning heights of the range) is a thick fudgy one, particularly when done outdoors on a cold night.
Then there's lots of smells. A whiff of pine, or any strong tree resin, coupled with a flash of red ribbon. That particular recipe for gingerbread with orange bits, and the smell of mulled wine in company. The faint feeling of panic when you think of post office queues. The endless lists and planning. Tinsel. The annual conversation about what to feed the herbivore which magically turns me into a provoking teenager and the other party into the supreme warlord and all-powerful dictator of festive foodstuffs:
"What do you want for Christmas dinner?"
"No. You have to have something besides roast potatoes."
"No. You have to have something besides roast vegetables."
"I don't like sprouts."
"Don't be an idiot. What do you want to eat?"
"I want to eat roasties. I mean, I really like roasties. I could eat my weight in them."
"You can't. There have to be some for everyone else. Now what do you want instead of turkey?"
"Why is a dead bird festive?"
"Stop trying to annoy me."
"Look. Just stop it."
"Ok. Nut loaf."
"Don't be stupid. We're NOT having some bloody twig-filled, sandal-wearing lump of muck at Christmas dinner."
"Nut loaf is nice."
"I'll make it."
"With tomato sauce it's nice. And festive-coloured."
"We could stick a holly leaf on top."
"Look," A pause while a brief grown-up moment shimmers on the horizon. "Really, I'm happy with the side dishes. Just cook the veg in olive oil and I'll be fine."
"No. You have to have something special." The moment is gone.
"No. Bread sauce is disgusting. We're not having bread sauce."
"So are sprouts."
"Sprouts are traditional."
"Sprouts taste like farts."
"Stop trying to distract me. It won't work. What do you want for Christmas dinner?"
"Pizza is not a Christmas food. You can't have pizza."
"There were mini pizza bites the year I had Christmas dinner at --'s"
"Exactly. It was crap. They completely ruined dinner."
"They didn't ruin my dinner."
"Yes they did."
"No. My dinner was ruined when the dog ate all the mince pies and was sick on the rug. And I stepped in it in my new socks on the way to the kitchen to get more roasties. Besides, how do you know? You weren't even there."
"Exactly. If I'd have been there, there wouldn't have been any bloody pizza. And the dog would have been better behaved."
"You hate dog sick."
"Right, that's it. There's no point asking you to be sensible about this. I'm making you stilton tarts with walnut and garlic sauce. It's in my cookbook."
"How is that Christmassy?"
"Stilton. Stilton is Christmassy."
"I had Stilton yesterday. I think it's more Advent-y. And sometimes it's also Easter-y. If you eat it at Easter, for example. Except what if you started then, but had a big wheel and didn't finish it until after Whitsun?"
"Stop being so BLOODY ANNOYING."
"Can we pray for the turkey?"