The Big Smoke

O Come All Ye Faithful, and bring money to Christmas dinner

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Image: Saturday Night Live

A family in the UK has caused outrage after the world got wind of their Christmas dinner being a £17 per person event. Is it that big an insult to the tradition?

 

 

Would you charge guests for Christmas dinner at home?

A family in the UK have found themselves at the coal face of outrage, when it was revealed that their mother-in-law was charging £17 per person to attend Christmas dinner at her place. The report, in Britain’s Daily Mirror (which you can take with a grain of salt…as you pass the potatoes), shows how stressful and expensive the annual get-together can be, the actions desperate people will take to make it happen, and how people react to it.

(Let’s all keep in mind the fact that none of it – the gifts, the parties, the dinner – is mandatory; you can, if you’d like to, just say no!)

There are two sides to every story, just as there were two turtle doves given on the second day of Christmas. If you’re going to charge your own family members a flat rate to come to your house and celebrate Jesus’ birthday, there’s a kind of parsimonious and bitter flavour to the stuffing that belies the very reason for the gathering. Suddenly, asking “What would Jesus do?” is replaced with “What would Jesus charge, and does that include GST?”

At the same time, if we consider how expensive Christmas dinner can be, perhaps charging a fee for turkey and trimmings is a sensible solution for some families. Times can be tough and a middle ground for maintaining a Christmas gathering while keeping costs low is to have people chip in.

All this debate about whether it’s ok to ask for cash contributions…and that’s before you’ve all sat down and that one racist uncle nobody likes starts on about politics!

Why are we more comfortable bringing over a plate of food than handing over cash? You’d think making a GoFundMe occasion festive would check off a lot of boxes, and the less you have to do in the lead-up to December 25, the better…surely? While bringing a plate has been a staple of large gatherings for generations, you don’t want your wires crossed and have two people bring the beans leaving everyone without sweet potato – the horror, the horror.

This very “bring a plate” idea may have been the most sensible solution for this family in Britain, but anyone who has been at a similar situation in an office knows that while you may put a world of effort into your dish, you just know someone’s going to pop into the local supermarket at the very last second and buy a packet of Iced Vo-Vos and hope nobody notices. Surely the very point of the Christmas dinner (for many, if not most of those who celebrate it) is the large, traditional aspects of it?

Many wold presumably be as reticent about bringing cash as they would giving cash as a gift. It’s the thought that counts, after all, so how much thought could possibly have gone into an envelope with a few sweaty 20s in it? All this back and forth, this debate about whether it’s ok to ask for cash contributions for an inversely pricey occasion…and that’s before you’ve all sat down and that one racist uncle nobody likes starts on about politics!

It’s enough to make you long for the days of Puritan colonial Massachusetts, where Christmas was banned for years, as it was thought to be vulgar.

 

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