A half-eaten box of Milk Tray sits in the middle of the kitchen table. People seem to feel about the chocolates the way members of staff must feel about the tins of Quality Street, Roses, and Heroes that they bring into school and leave in the staff room.
There would not have been much chance of leftover chocolates at the school I attended for Christmas was not a big thing. Strict evangelicals, they presumably regarded Christmas with the suspicion that Puritans had shown it for centuries. They might reasonably have pointed to the fact that the early church had not celebrated Christmas and that the story was a conflation of different bits of the Bible. We never sang Christmas carols, nor did we hear tales of shepherds and wise men. The one song we did sing was We wish you a merry Christmas and at the conclusion of whatever play we performed at the end of term we were sent home with a Christmas pudding each, cooked by the staff of the school kitchen.
I remember coming home with my Christmas pudding at the Christmas holidays in 1974 and being take aback when it was set on the top shelf of a cupboard. Christmas puddings, it seemed, needed time to develop their best flavour and it would be kept for the following year.
When you are fourteen years old, the idea that something might be kept for a year before being eaten seemed, at best, eccentric. At least a decade must have passed before the pudding was eaten at Christmas of 1975.
Christmas puddings can, respectably, be put away until the coming of the next Yuletide, other foodstuffs have a shorter shelf life. There must be much Christmas food that never gets eaten.
What is the purpose of the massive expenditure on food that we are still eating weeks later? How much of it goes past its “use by” date and ends up in the bin? Even at Christmas, how much cooked food went uneaten?
There is a collective madness about it all, a compulsive desire to spend huge amounts of money on food we will never eat seems to take hold of the country. How many bags of almonds and Brazil nuts are bought for no reason other than it is Christmas? How many people finish the nuts they have bought?
In retrospect, puddings that will last until next year seem sensible.