Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Surviving An Austere Christmas

According to all records of hope sting, most of us are now set to enjoy something of an “austere Christmas”.

This is not to say that Santa is about to bypass us all in his tempered miracle zeal, because as we all know [kid spoiler approacheth], Santa is, in fact, us.  Sad but true, it’s just how it is, here at the flobbly end of 2011.

So as we all grapple with limited means to rival a chrysalis-bound butterfly beached in the frost, what can be done this year to guarantee that our stifled generosity can rise to the occasion and deliver tangible festive output fit for all the family?

Let’s start with the basics.

Tucked away in every family shed is one of these:

According to my DIY-minded friends, this chunk of workmanly kit has been deployed over the centuries to assist in the erection of more cathedrals and in-home stair lifts than most of us have had hot dinners.  Now it’s time to shave our figgy puddings with it, reducing them in size to slightly smaller versions of themselves and saving up the shavings for years to come.  In ten years’ time, not only will we have graced the Christmas table with nine pudding-o lites indistinguishable from their full size counterparts, but we’ll have sufficient leftover slices of figginess to create a tenth for free in 2021.

“We hear your logic, Whirl — but do you have any tips to help out families with pets?”

Of course I do.  Everyone is familiar with the idea that a family pet adds value to our limited mortality, ie that having something fluffy and friendly about the place acts as a considerable distraction from the inevitability of our final and crushing demise, particularly if said fluffy and friendly pet is an elephant clad in a giant tea cosy.  Further value can be added to our sense of Christmas occasion by decorating our pets as we do our trees and refrigerators.  So it’s time to festoon the dachshund with a little tinsel, or grace the cat with baubles ‘pon every foot.  Whatever your pet, there’s always an odd scrap of garland or tinsel at the bottom of every box of Christmas decorations that would otherwise lay idle.  It would cost next to nothing to deck out your much-loved pets thusly, and if there are any scowls or yowls of complaint, you might wish to remind them of the terms of the deal, ie that without mankind to feed and water them, most household pets would die a miserable death in a cruel and heartless wilderness.

Note:  For anyone with a tankful of insubstantial shiny flippetyfish, I know it’s kind of tedious, but glitter does actually superglue underwater.

“OK, what about dinner?  Cranberry sauce is soooo expensive.”

Agreed, but if cuts have to be made, why not bash a hardback copy of Roget’s Thesaurus against your nose till it bleeds, and decant a few cupfuls of the red stuff into a reindeer-themed jugette?  Throw a few grapes into the mixture and no-one will notice the Great Cranberry Deception, because the wine you’re serving for dinner will, of course, be Lidl’s own white cider and everyone ought to be too pissed to care.  With so much lipstick about the place from kisses under the mistletoe, no-one will ever see the bruises to your face, and when the good times roll again, you can pass your crooked conk off as an act of aspirational home plastic surgery allied to a dream of meeting your favourite pop star.

“Any tips for a turkey substitute?  Are there cheaper birds, maybe pigeons or sparrows?”

Forget poultry altogether.  It’s time-consuming to fatten birds up and until we find a way of recycling all the beaks and toenails it’s also a massive waste of resources.  Best thing to do is invest in a dozen of the cheapest frozen burgers you can lay your hands on.  The breadcrumb-filled nature of most modern burgers lends itself to infinite malleability once they’re thawed, and with the right artistic wherewithal, a dozen budget burgers can be moulded into a perfectly passable headless, wingless, legless, lifeless lump of festive mock poultry.  Simply sprinkle with feathers from one of Granny’s pillows and hey presto! Oiseau du Jour!

“The fairy lights are costing me a fortune in electricity!  Help!”

It’s true that twinkly lights are an ambient drain on the pocket — especially for those who insist on hosting an animatronic Lapland in their back garden — so it may be time to recall the illuminatory staple of medieval times, ie the candle.  As long as you keep the tree regularly moistened with sprays of water, any arrays of candles slung from it will have next to zero chance of burning down your house.

“Times are hard.  We need Rudolph’s carrot for dinner.  Sorry.”

It’s a shame to play the harsh one when it comes to feeding imaginary seasonal quadrupeds, I know, but for the sake of the kids there’s nothing for it but to bite the weeniest morsel off the tip and throw the rest into the pan.  If the kids are at all concerned about Santa’s publicly-spirited reindeer missing out on a few treats, you could always try reasoning with them.  The worldwide reindeer carrot pot is potentially a vast one, and if we all chip in a little bit, there’s no danger of malnutrition-generated antler rot.  In actual fact, going with the present arrangement of personally feeding individual reindeer is a recipe for unwarranted obesity and a squandering of the world’s carrot resources.

“It simply won’t be Christmas without the new festive Cliff Richard CD of shamelessly sugary wank.”

Oh yes it will.  Save your money and sing a medley of Cliff’s finest as a family while you wait for the brussels sprout fug of bum gas to dissipate.  “Saviour’s Day” really comes into its own when there’s more than the usual stimulus to gag.

“Are you absolutely sure that whole budget burger mock-turkey thing will fool everyone?  My parents’ folks are coming, and in addition to not being born yesterday, they were both born in the thirties when this whole austerity deal was the norm?”

The solution here is to glaze with gruel — and while they’re drying off, remind them that without your charity they could be spending Christmas in a care home.

"But what about aunties and uncles?  Cousins and nephews and stuff?  It’s such a lot of people to buy for!"

Fortunately, all those Somali pirates have clubbed together to offer a home kidnap service.  For a modest fee you can arrange to have extended family members incarcerated for the duration of the festive season, ‘missing, presumed dead’.  Upon their return in the New Year, all you need to do is inform them that your Christmas budget has already been spent on discounted burgers for responsible family members who successfully managed not to be kidnapped, and the whole present buying conundrum can be bypassed like a dream.

If anyone has any further tips, the comment trail awaits your cost-cutting suggestions.


fairyhedgehog said...

I'm not sure about decorating the cats. Rufus has sharp claws and a visit to A&E is very time-consuming at this time of year.

Other than that: Jolly Good! What Ho!

Whirlochre said...

Fluffy woolen snowball bobbles are the things for claws...