What is the deal with clementines? The moment they come into season, they are quite possibly the loveliest fruit you could want to eat, but then come Boxing Day they don’t quite taste the same. This doesn’t happen with things like Christmas pudding or mince pies or chestnuts or even sprouts, so I find it hard to, erm, digest that it is because the festivities are over. There’s not even the guilt factor of breaking open another tin of Celebrations after New Year because clementines are one of the healthiest things going, especially if, like us, you have lived in a house of sickness all Christmas. And yet I had one this morning. Totally in date and undamaged. Tasted awful. The oral equivalent of playing Jingle Bells on Twelfth Night.
Maybe it’s just me. In fact it is quite likely to be just me. The thing is, clementines are the one thing that really say to me that it’s Christmas. Once Christmas Day is over, forget it – I don’t want to know. I was happily playing Wombling Merry Christmas in the car on New Year’s Eve (in part a tribute to the late Elizabeth Beresford) but ask me eat anything small, orange and citrus, well I just couldn’t. I believe most people have their ‘clementine’ feeling, the thing that really reminds them of Christmas and having it once the 25th is over brings on the ultimate in post-Christmas blues.
Now, I may be the only one with a clementine-phobia at this time of year but I am sure I am not alone in feeling like every January is a battle against these post-Christmas blues. People can scream out that it’s a new start and time for new beginnings and new challenges and the perfect excuse to paint the house, etc, all they like. It’s just another way of disguising the fact that January is a pretty miserable month, or at least the first couple of weeks are.
Now I say this and I have two kids with January birthdays. Soon the gloom will clear – until, of course, I realise the expense of putting on two parties.
But I don’t wish to be selfish and ignore other post-Christmas blues sufferers. I think the best way for anyone to banish the post-Christmas blues is to simply continue Christmas. Not in a daft Wizzard kind of way where you wish it could be Christmas every day but just taking certain elements of the festive season that we only really do during the last crazy days of December and instead carry on doing them for the first few dull days – and, where applicable, weeks – of January.
I have picked five such elements that, admittedly get a bit more unrealistic as they go along but still, I feel, worth a mention.
1. Allow yourself a few Christmassy treats and delay any thoughts of dieting until at least February. Come on, January is the worst time of year to be denying yourself anything. Sure there are numerous celebrity fitness DVDs being advertised at the moment but think about it. They would have been recorded in July or some other similar spring or summery month when exercising and watching what you eat is far easier. One suspects most of these fitness celebrities go home after their promotional rounds and polish off the rest of the Quality Street.
2. Cook something special. Once you have shunned these silly celebrity dieters, embrace the celebrity chefs. Chances are you or your other half would have received one of these express cookbooks for Christmas. Well dig it out from the half eaten selection boxes and unworn socks and pick something from it, get the ingredients in your lunch-hour tomorrow and go and make it. They really are good. We cooked Nigella’s chicken schnitzel last night – it was dead easy and delicious and brightened up a dreary early January evening no end. I vowed not to buy yet another celebrity cook book this year as we have got more than enough – even so, the wife bought me Jamie’s 30 Minute Meals and I am looking forward to trying things from that one too. Just avoid anything complicated – I think Rick Stein is brilliant but I have only ever made the fish pie from his seafood cook book – it was divine, of course, but took about two hours.
3. Keep on watching those family movies and other jolly things they tend to show over Christmas. I have to say, on the whole, TV schedulers do a rubbish job once the New Year weekend is over. What have we had so far this week? Stargazing Live – great concept, excellent presenters, just one problem. There’s nothing but fog and cloud outside and you can’t see anything. Then there’s cheery dramas such as Silent Witness and Above Suspicion which seem to be trying to outdo each other in their grisliness. But the prize for most untimely programming has to go to the EastEnders team for the utterly depressing Kat and Alfie cot death storyline. We need that at this time of year about as much as the Andy Williams Christmas Show. The only exceptions for a bit of evening escapism seem to be a new series of Hustle on Friday which, although it has gone off the boil since those two new characters came in, will be perfectly watchable. There is Lark Rise To Candleford coming up and Zen looks quite good too. But the schedulers only think we need cheering up on a Sunday night. So I reckon your best bet is to seek out some classic films that are on – inexplicably – during the day, usually on Channel Four, and set your Sky Plus/freesat box to record them. The Seven Year Itch is on this afternoon and next week you’ll find Three Coins In The Fountain and Blithe Spirit. I’ve never seen either but I bet both will beat Children’s Hospital and a Trevor McDonald travelogue hands down.
4. Play party games and games with the kids. Don’t put away the Taboo or Rapidough just yet. They’re always worth getting out if you have enough people and can’t agree what to watch on the television. And, as I said a few weeks ago in my blog about having a Games Day, you won’t quite beat the look on your kids’ faces if you agree to play something they like such as 3D Snakes and Ladders.
5. Be romantic and considerate. We often go out of our way at Christmas to show our loved ones how much they mean to us, usually by buying comedy gifts such as a Newfoundland calendar (how I laughed). So why not try and show it throughout the year, not just in January. It will make you feel better than any New Year’s resolution or so-called new start – especially if your loved ones do the same for you.
Even if you do one of these, you’ll perk up the next few weeks a treat. In fact, I almost feel like breaking open a clementine…