Merry Christmas & Alice Thomas Ellis’s Home Life

Community, a Christmas episode

Community (a Christmas episode)

Merry Christmas!

We read, took a long walk, and ate turkey in front of the TV.

Did you know that Channel 23 shows reruns of Community, The Middle, and Modern Family?

I haven’t vegged out like this in a long time.

Home Life by alice thomas ellisIt was not exactly like the Christmas scenes in the brilliant novelist Alice Thomas Ellis’s Home Life columns.  Are you familiar with her light, charming essays about domestic life, written for The Spectator and collected in four volumes?

Home Life is vaguely like E. M. Delafield’s Provincial Lady, only urban, circa the 1980s.  A white Persian cat is in the sink, so Ellis has difficulty brushing her teeth; a man mistakes her for a prostitute when she is in a bar with Beryl Bainbridge; she gets snowed in in the country; and the pipes burst and inundate a set of Thackeray.

She had seven children, so I can’t imagine how she wrote so beautifully, though there is someone named Janet in the background, an assistant(?)/friend who helps run the household.

Here is a Christmas scene from “Liberated Lady” in Home Life, Vol. 2

Well, after all that fuss it wasn’t such a bad Christmas after all–really quite agreeable.  I always feel a bit daunted as I regard fifteen shining expectant faces and glance from them to the turkey crouching in a threatening stance, waiting to be carved, but as I’ve gone quite limp by that time anyway I leave the carving to any delightful gentleman who cares to try his skill:  Michael this year, and a very good job he made of it–and the ham.  Someone presided over the claret with his usual urbanity, and I even remembered to put the gravy on the table.  We all looked particularly lovely, especially me in a glitzy coat that Beryl gave me, which made me rather resemble a salmon who had been muscle-pumping, since it has Dynasty-type shoulder pads.

Did you dress up for Christmas?  I’m in corduroy stretch pants (I thought I’d never wear this gift from my mother but they’re heavenly indoors), a zip-up sweater, and a knee-length cardigan.  My husband is in jeans, sweater, and stocking cap.  (It’s freezing in here.  He keeps it at 60 when he’s home.)

I managed to clean the house for the great day, if you don’t count the books I transferred from the tables to the bedroom floor.

It was a good Christmas, as these things go.  Keep expectations low.

And, like everyone else, I start my diet tomorrow after the feast I didn’t particularly enjoy.

6 thoughts on “Merry Christmas & Alice Thomas Ellis’s Home Life

  1. We had a relaxed, non-dressing up Christmas day doing the things we liked – I ended up rediscovering a book from my childhood – no Martha Stewart-like posing for us!!


  2. Kat, how have I missed knowing about Ellis’s ‘Home Life’ books? Although my library has some of her fiction, it doesn’t have any of her volumes of columns. I shall be on the lookout, but may have to fly to London to find any copies at used book stores.


  3. Belle, The Common Reader used to publish them. Did you know that catalogue? I found out about so many books from them. I love these books so much! Yes, they are the kind of thing many of us love.


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