The misanthrope’s advent calendar – day 21

One thing I hate about christmas – and there are many – is stealth alcohol.

I mean alcohol can be bad enough, but stealth alcohol is another thing altogether – and a special prize for anyone who knew there was a reference there to be had! Stealth alcohol is, as the name implies, alcohol masquerading as something entirely innocuous, mainly in food, especially at Christmas.

A good example is brandy butter. Not the kind you buy, which has flavourings that taste like brandy, but homemade brandy butter. Yes such a thing exists. People do make it and insist on having it with mince pies, of which they have an endless supply of, and try to eat them all. My recollection of homemade brandy butter gets a bit blurred towards the end.

Which is nothing as compared to the hidden potential of trifle. Now here I must make a confession. As a young boy on holiday in Ireland, my Aunt left my Uncle and myself to make a trifle for a family Sunday lunch. Fine. Everything was going gangbusters when we discovered there was no sherry to be had. Panic! Until disaster was averted when my Uncle thankfully discovered a bottle of whiskey. It was only later that it struck me that he might have engineered the whole thing. Anyway, he invited me to pour. Gingerly ay first I did and then I saw the smile spreading across his face and as he was my favourite Uncle and I wanted to please him, I kept on pouring.

To this day, I’m not certain how much I emptied into the trifle, but I do remember all the adults tucking in with gusto and each time I was there we’d always make trifle.

So beware Christmas trifles.

Another example is of course setting fire to the Christmas pudding, which whilst a quaint anachronism to every other family I’ve spent Christmas day with, the family who made their own brandy butter certainly weren’t backwards in coming forwards on this either. As the brandy had made its way onto the table, they seemed incredibly reluctant to see it leave.

Thus my recollection of that christmas dinner is bit frayed around the edges.