How to spend this Christmas, IAM style

Members of the IAM team share their Christmas plans and explain what is most special to them about this time of year

As we close the IAM platform down for the Christmas break, the entire editorial team would like to wish all our subscribers, friends and contacts the very happiest of festive periods. Hopefully, you will all get a chance to relax and spend time with the people in your life who are most important to you.

This is what we are preparing for over the coming 24 hours …

Far from home

Usually I would go back to Canada for Christmas but given the current situation I will be celebrating in the UK with my partner’s family in the Midlands.

When I’m home we have the big Christmas dinner on Christmas Eve, and there’s lots of borscht, pierogies and cabbage rolls. I reckon this year I can expect a traditional British dinner, which will be happening on Christmas Day. While this is foreign to me, I’ve decided to take over Christmas Eve and introduce some things from back home.

I always drink Baileys over the festive period. It’s the only time of year when every cup of tea can be a fun cup of tea. And, like anyone, I like to have a Christmas movie on whenever I’m enjoying a warm beverage. The line-up, and I try very hard to watch each one, includes: The Grinch, Elf, Home Alone, Die Hard, The Polar Express and The Santa Clause.

Presents will be opened on Christmas morning and jolly tunes can be expected. I am a big fan of Michael Bublé’s Christmas album, but I won’t say no to a bit of Mariah Carey or Wham!.

Bridget Diakun, Data Reporter

First time as a three

This Christmas will be particularly special for my wife and me, because it will be our first time celebrating the festive season with our daughter, Rosa, born in May this year. She won’t understand what’s going on, of course, but I’m looking forward to spending the day with her.

We will hopefully be spending Christmas Day at my parents-in-law’s house (which was also the plan in 2020, until the last-minute lockdown trapped us in London). My childhood habit was to lie awake until 7am, before running downstairs to unwrap all my presents in about 30 seconds. In recent years, I have reluctantly assimilated to my wife’s family tradition: no opening gifts until after church, at about 11am!

Christmas lunch (at around 3pm) is worth waiting for. Following a glass of champagne, we will have turkey with all the trimmings: homemade gravy, two types of stuffing, bread sauce, roast parsnips, potatoes, carrots and sprouts. My father-in-law has a Christmas compilation CD, which will be playing in the background all day.

Between Boxing Day and New Year, my family – Mum, Dad, four siblings and their partners – will be coming down from Blackburn to visit (not all staying at my house). I expect plenty of laughs and Christmas games.

Adam Houldsworth, Life Sciences Editor

Joy, laughter … and egg nog

This Christmas will go down in history as our 10-month-old daughter’s first. My husband Aaron, my sons Matthew and Luke, and little Emma will start out on Christmas morning – as soon as the kids wake up – gathered around the tree to tear into gifts. I am always shocked that so much mess can be made in such a short time.

After playing with our treasures, eating breakfast and lazily getting ready, we will head out for my mom and dad’s house, just two miles from our place. My brother, sister, her husband and their two children will join us for a day of relaxation, fun and food.

We enjoy our Christmas meal mid-day so that we can eat leftovers for dinner. Every year we choose something unique and new: duck, goose and Turduckin – a turkey stuffed with a duck stuffed with a chicken – have been the centrepiece in the past. We end our meal with plenty of Christmas cookies, while some adults opt for egg nog with whiskey as a special treat.

Some of our favourite Christmas movies include A Christmas Story, Home Alone and Elf – you might notice the trend of comedies, showing how we like laughter in our Christmas cheer. Classic Christmas songs from church and popular culture also uplift us at this time of year.

One of my favourite memories is the Christmas Eve candlelight service where we sing carols. We end with the lights out, candles lit, to sing “Silent Night”. The feeling helps remind us about the reason for the season.

Angela Morris, Deputy Editor

Storm before the calm

After several days of festivities with family and friends, I’ll be spending a quiet Christmas Day with my wife at home in Hong Kong. The tree is up, the stockings are hung and the Phil Spector Christmas Album is playing in the background.

A few days earlier, I’ll be whipping up a batch of Tom and Jerrys to serve at a party we are hosting. The Tom and Jerry is an American Christmas cocktail that dates back to 1821 but is all-but-forgotten everywhere except the upper Midwest. I had no idea they were so obscure until I left Minnesota. It would not be a Schindler family Christmas without them.

When it comes to Christmas dinner, though, I’ll be departing from tradition. Rather than prepare a roast turkey or Christmas ham in my small city apartment, I’ll be picking up a whole roasted goose in the Cantonese style from Kam’s Restaurant to serve along with more conventional home-cooked western sides.

After that, Christmas morning will have arrived in the UK and, later on, in the United States. We’ll be wishing Merry Christmas to family members and opening presents remotely well into the night.

Jacob Schindler, Editor

A gathering of the clan

After 2020’s tight restrictions, there will be four generations of Wild congregating for Christmas this year: our grandson Dylan, his great grandmother (my Mum), me, my wife Ruth and our three kids plus partners. Luckily, we have a big table!

The morning will inevitably revolve around Dylan and his presents, though I expect our three to also regress to childhood. All the chocolate will be gone by midday. That’s also the time I retreat to the kitchen to get on with making the feast.

I do it all: the peeling, the rest of the prep and the cooking. That way I don’t have to do the washing up.  It’s goose this year, with all the trimmings. Brussels sprouts are compulsory, of course. To accompany me in my work there will be English beer, Spanish wine and music from everywhere, with an emphasis on the traditional and the choral.

At 3.00 pm everything will stop for the Queen and her annual Christmas speech. It will be her sixty-ninth, I think, but her first as a widow - a poignant reminder that for many this time of year is not all about carefree happiness and joy.

We’ll sit down to eat later than most – at 6.00 pm or so – and we’ll pull crackers, tell jokes and consume far too much of everything. There will be port and cheese. Then it’s time to fall asleep in front of the telly. For some reason, as I get older, I find Boxing Day increasingly painful. Can’t think why!

Joff Wild, Editor-in-Chief

Dreaming of the snow

Christmas is not strictly a Chinese celebration, but my fondness for this holiday originated in the cold and dark Connecticut winter of my university years. I remember the indescribable peace and joy, seeing Christmas lights colouring up the snow-coated ground and inhaling the sharp and refreshing scent of pine trees travelling in the air.

Many years later I am now settled in an almost tropical Hong Kong, the crispy air and enchanting Christmas lights live vividly in memory. It is logistically challenging to get a sizable pine tree to my moderate-sized flat, so I will cheat with a fake Christmas tree in my living room decorated with lights. This year’s Christmas dinner will take place in the evening and will feature duck, sausage, mashed potatoes and some red cabbage, paired with Riesling and Barolo, and finished with a Gluhwein and my home-made Christmas cookies.

Christmas gifts are to be unwrapped after dinner. Love Actually has been a must-watch Christmas film, so shall be again this year. Between Christmas and New Year’s Eve, I will be meeting close friends to celebrate in small groups. Inevitably, there will be more wining and dining, but all hopefully will be in moderate fashion. In addition to taking delight in social occasions, I shall indulge in fitness activities, reading, writing (thankfully not for IAM friends and readers) to enjoy the remainder of the break.

I long for the white Christmas of New England, and I miss exotic travels to foreign places of the life I led prior to the pandemic (that all feels like a long time ago). Nevertheless, I appreciate the moment being here with loved ones, without being helplessly nostalgic about the past or hopelessly apprehensive about the future. 

I wish all of you a lovely and jolly Christmas!

Bing Zhao, China Editor

Get unlimited access to all IAM content