The two weeks before Christmas are the slice of the year with the most flavour, in the form of Christmas dinners. During these couple of weeks, foolish is the man or woman who tries to book a table in a halfway popular restaurant, even worse if you want to celebrate your birthday. There will be no space what so ever, and nobody will be free to celebrate with you anyway. This is the season to be jolly and to smile through the office Christmas dinner.
Your boss has become the funniest guy in the world for one night, and the woman who works in France and doesn’t talk to anyone is suddenly your best friend, and you catch up with all your colleagues live. A delicious mix of jokes and personal information that, once lubricated with alcohol, are shared and opportunities to get to know the new girl from human resources or the hot guy from IT better (now that there’s nothing else the can ‘happen’ to your computer).
In the UK we also have this dinner. The Work Christmas Dinner, although it can become a ‘liquid lunch’…you know what the Brits are like. This annual feast is exactly the same as in Spain, universally hated, but the hatred is enjoyed. Dresses are bought, shoes are hunted for, hair is cut, and superior-sacrifice-resting-bitch-face is practised.
This is ‘The Dinner’ but it’s also common in the UK to have the dinner, which is the other Christmas dinner with the people from your department, team, the mini work family. It’s usually more fun, more informal, and more uninhibited. Since you spend a significant amount of your waking hours with these people, the smiles are real, the jokes sharper, and the alcohol more free-flowing.
These are the typical dinners in the UK, as is the one with close friends. Depending on the time and the group, this can take one form or another. It could be a sports team, or a dance group, maybe the life-long friends, if by chance you still live in the same city. My perception is that it’s a bit weird and strange to set up Christmas dinners with people with whom you aren’t so close. Therefore, the little life groups that you have don’t often meet for Christmas dinner. In Spain, on the other hand, this type of social event doesn’t even need an excuse.
I’ve heard about a lot of different reasons for having a christmas dinner, and some are more outlandish than others. Let’s take a look at the reasons in order or least to most weird:
- life long friends
- cousins, if you can get them all together at the same time
- university friends
- friends from whichever life stage
- flatmates, if you don’t live with friends
- countrymen, if you live abroad
- specialisation at work (even if you don’t work directly together all the time)
- Parent’s friends (an obligatory horror)
- People you know from walking your dogs at the same time
- Group (or clan) of your preferred online videogame. For me this is the most extreme because you don’t know anything about these people, you’ve never met them, and all you know about them is their online handle…zombiekiller69, Dora the Destroyer or cerealkiller
Jokes aside, in a world that seems to be careering towards isolationism, it seems to me to be fundamental that we cling to whatever excuse we have to see each other in person, to break bread with people in real life, and any excuse is a good excuse.
Long live the Christmas dinner!
* Photos: GTRES