Every year I like to have exactly the same meal for Christmas dins. Not a turkey, not nut roast, not a big glossy ham with some steamed sprouts, cranberry sauce and roasties on the side. There are no Nigella Lawson-endorsed seasonal spreads for me. Instead I have my own festive menu, one that consists solely of a jacket potato smothered with baked beans and grated Cheddar – the greatest meal of all time. It’s this dish which truly means it’s Christmas Day in the Cooper household. Sure, I’ll have the occasional mince pie (and advent calendar chocolate is a must throughout December) but when it comes to the main event on December 25, it’s a simple three-ingredient job and I don’t care who knows it.
Christmas is about traditions, and not just the ones everyone does – I’m totally down for people creating their own. The NME office is full of them. I give you writer Jordan Bassett, whose grandma saves up Tesco vouchers all year round and takes the extended family to “blow the bloody lot at Bella Italia on Boxing Day – you have never seen so many Mini Dough Bites in your entire life.” There’s writer Larry Bartleet, whose mum and sister spend an inordinate amount of time making a ‘kissing bough’ – “and swearing a lot, because it’s quite fiddly,” he says. Or there’s Dan Stubbs, our Commissioning Editor, whose dad writes a poem or panto to be read out each year over Christmas dinner. “It was ‘Dan Whittington And His Cat’ the year I moved to London,” he says. He has no cat.
Christmas is about having a chill, peaceful time and what better way to have a chill, peaceful time than by having some special ‘treat yourself’ time? So watch your favourite Christmas movie (even if it’s Die Hard, which is definitely not a Christmas movie) and eat your favourite food (even if it’s a burger). But remember that Christmas should also be about giving something back. You can go big or go small, but even if you’re not volunteering for an awesome charity such as Crisis at Christmas, there are other ways you can make a difference. You can drop a box of dried food off at a local food bank (look up the Trussell Trust if you want to know how), donate warm clothes you don’t wear anymore (or those toasty socks your aunt gave you) to a Christmas shelter in your neighbourhood, or go and drop by the house of an elderly relative and surprise them with a box of chocolates. Or – even better – a jacket potato with baked beans and grated cheese.