What Christmas Means to Me
- Craig Angus
- 9 November 2020
Scottish authors, musicians and performers tell us what they love best about the festive season
What makes Christmas special? That depends on who you're asking. We all have songs and films that get us feeling festive, and have our own traditions and rituals that are so deeply ingrained in our own Christmas experiences. We had a word with some of Scotland's best loved authors, musicians, and general entertainers, to find out what they love about Christmas.
Kirstin Innes, author: The Muppet Christmas Carol, snuggled up with my kids. I've heard all your 'Die Hard is the perfect Christmas movie' bants; does it have Kermit the Frog in it? No it does not. My fella and I also watch the musical Christmas episode of Community and The Office Christmas Special as a matter of tradition. I also love 'Christmas Wrapping' by The Waitresses. It's perfect. I know all the words. I play it every morning from Dec 1. My family ban it around the 16th, which is actually quite tolerant of them . And finally, booze for breakfast. I've cooked most of the Christmas dinners since I turned 16; these days I do it looking like your classic tipsy Chrimbo mum in a sparkly jumper. Which, funnily enough, is what I am.
Scabby Queen is out now, published by 4th Estate.
Amelia Bayler, comedian: Sometimes I feel like the only constant in my life is a Greggs' Festive Bake. Relationships come and go each year but that warm(ish) pastry will always be there for me every year to warm my cold heart. A twist on a classic, this is the extended dance remix of the classic chicken bake. Like many limited-edition snacks the idea of the festive bake is often much better than the experience itself. The build-up, the anticipation, the first bite of the iconic, lukewarm pasty, and then the comedown, and a gap I inevitably fill with less seasonal pastries once the festive season is over.
Vic Galloway, BBC broadcaster, author, musician: James Brown's Funky Christmas is a compilation of Christmas records that the Godfather of Soul released throughout his early- and mid-career, and it's just a knock-out! 'Santa Claus Go Straight to the Ghetto', 'Soul Power At Christmas Time' and many others are all stone cold classics. Mr Dynamite and his super-tight backing musicians are seriously syncopated and swingin' on every track, and it's a great antidote to the myriad of schmaltzy festive records you hear on rotation. To be honest, if he didn't shout 'Christmas' every now and again, you wouldn't even know it's a yuletide release at all... Haha! But it gets heavy rotation around the tree in the Galloway household. And let's be honest, even at Christmas he's the hardest working man in show-business!
Check Masses' album Night Life Is out now.
Martha Ffion, musician: My favourite Christmas film is Elf and I don't feel festive until I've watched it. I love the complete innocence and silliness of it and I delight in shouting 'Santa? I know him!' at every given opportunity. Much like Buddy, I exist primarily on sugar and Christmas is one of the few times of year I get away with eating chocolate for breakfast. At home in County Down we always had Christmas day with lots of extended family. A long-standing tradition was the making of Irish coffees at about 10pm, with each family member taking their turn to agonisingly whisk the cream by hand. One year everyone was so blootered that we forgot to put any coffee in… so we just had hot whiskey and cream.
Ashley Storrie, Comedian: Christmas dinner is big for me. On Christmas day my family will eat whatever I give them. It is now accepted lore in the Godley/Storrie household that Ashley makes Christmas dinner and everyone has to pretend to like it, irrespective of their actual feelings or she goes off on one… I remember fondly their 'delight' at the giant stuffing bunt of '17 or their 'joy' at a fish Yule log of '15. This year I think I might go full '70s and just suspend everything in aspic and be a right Fanny Cradock, sans the Cradock.
Paul Swinton, Cloth: A favourite Christmas film of ours is National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation. It's surely one of Chevy Chase's funniest films and, as a family Christmas comedy, it's as silly as they come. If you've not seen it, it's worth a watch just for the scene with the house of 10,000 Christmas lights, or for Randy Quaid's show-stealing performance as Cousin Eddie. It also has a great soundtrack, featuring a score by Angelo Badalamenti (of Twin Peaks fame), as well as Ray Charles' beautiful holiday classic 'That Spirit of Christmas.'
Cloth's self-titled, SAY-award shortlisted debut album is out now.
Romeo Taylor, musician: My favourite Christmas song is a classic and has yet to be topped, simple and catchy and with plenty of wee funny noises in it, it's 'Wonderful Christmastime' by Paul McCartney. You just know Sir Paul was going off his nut when he wrote it – probably had been smoking hash! I love listening to this tune, I once performed it for Tommy Reilly's All-Star Christmas at The Blue Arrow with the troops guiding me along as I was seriously out my nut and I'd forgotten the words and generally just lost my way, really embarrassed myself but an amazing memory looking back. I had my The Matrix gear on too.
Wendy Wason, Comedian: Nothing says Christmas like a snuggle on the sofa with those giant tins of brightly coloured sweets and a cheesy film. I love old classics like It's A Wonderful Life and Miracle on 34th Street, although the kids made me feel really old when they called Home Alone an old classic and I cannot watch Home Alone 2 anymore thanks to a certain cameo from the guy living in the White House right now. My Christmas movie is a double-bill that we do as a bit of a tradition in our house on Christmas Eve. We start off with the whole family on the sofa with hot chocolate and sweets and stick on Elf. Then we put the kids to bed, open the wine and enjoy Bad Santa. Bliss.