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Home Sweet Home

A confession: I find the tinkling piano at the beginning of Driving Home For Christmas the most evocative 10 seconds of music in the world. It brings me such comfort and joy that I listen to it in the height of summer while on particularly stressful deadlines.

Because the prospect of coming home for Christmas brings me incomparable calm; Frank Sinatra singing The First Noel, the reedy sound of a non-church going family singing hymns, bread sauce, three “kids” in their twenties laying out a carrot for Rudolph, eating my auntie’s bran muffins on Christmas morning.

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But before I let you go thinking my family is totally Waltons, I’ll let you in on the bad bits too: arguments about EastEnders vs Doctor Who. Too much chocolate in the morning resulting in a migraine by noon. Too much sitting. Lingering moodiness between the active and inert camps (those who want a bracing country walk, those who want to watch Gone With The Wind). Snapping between the academics and the zombies (those who want to play a complicated new board game, those who want to eat more Lindor on the sofa). And my mother, God love her, buys the following things every year that no one eats: walnuts, pickled walnuts, salted caramel vodka, Victorian-style chutney, jarred cranberry sauce (in case anyone finds the home-made a bit tart).

But coming home for Christmas is not about it being perfect – it’s about it just being there, waiting for you. Like it is every year. A home full of wonderful and difficult people you love, coming together to sing and eat and argue. How perfect.

DOLLY ALDERTON

Contributor at The Sunday Times Style

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