All that glitters…
Caroline Quentin on why she’s thrilled that sparkles are back
Are you old enough to recall a time when Christmas cards really celebrated the festive season? Remember those snowy scenes and country cottages, their golden windows lighting the gloom, thatched roofs under a thick blanket of the snow, robins, red-breasted and shiny eyed, and every bit of them smothered in silver glitter?
When I was a child, Christmas was totally sparkly, with tinsel and lametta everywhere. Fairy lights, candles, satin, ribbon and sequins in abundance – back then, ’twas not only the season to be jolly but ’twas also the season to throw good taste to the north wind. It was all or nothing, and at our house, it was all! On Christmas Day, every woman (and some men) wore something shiny. Sequins, lamé, Lurex, and velvet set off with a huge pair of dangly earrings. Since those gaudy days of excess, a disgusting amount of good taste has crept in to Christmas. For some years now, we Brits have exhibited a penchant for Scandi chic, Nordic nuance and barely there baubles. Understated style has been the order of the day.
Happily, though, this year, I’ve noticed Yuletide austerity is disappearing. The sombre monochrome is being replaced by something cheerier. Glitter is back. My local supermarket’s Christmas cards are super-sparkly. I notice, too, that Santa is making a return. In recent years, jolly Saint Nick took a back seat, replaced by penguins and polar bears. But he’s here again and I’m delighted to say he’s had a Strictly
makeover. I wouldn’t be surprised to see him sporting a bedazzled beard… The Victorians knew a thing or two about this time of year. That famous picture of Queen Victoria and her family around the candlelit tree led to the nation embracing the pine. Charles Dickens, in his novel A Christmas Carol,
didn’t wax lyrical about minimalist decor and spartan suppers. He knew that, at Christmas, less is not more… more is more! I think the Victorians had the right idea.
So, this year, my Christmas is going to be a bit more Victorian, all about fun and colour. The world is an increasingly bleak place – I’ll be monochrome and cool come January but this festive season, I want bling. My tree is going to be smothered in lights, and when I switch on my illuminations, I want the national grid to feel it. If, on Christmas Eve, your telly flickers and your lights dim for a moment, it’s me blinding the kids and the cats, bidding farewell to austerity for a few short weeks.
Happy Christmas, dear Prima readers. However you decide to spend your holiday season, I wish you a happy and peaceful time, full of love and laughter and plenty of sparkle!