Going out for Christmas dinner at uni makes you weak
Squad cooking is a ritual
It’s an all too familiar scenario of the penultimate week of Christmas term. Buble is on and you and the girls are flitting round your living room putting up the Poundland decor, sharing the odd mince pie and spreading all round festive cheer.
You sit back and take a look around the room. You notice the glow in people’s eyes, the frost on the windows and the sudden unstoppable love in your heart, and you think yeah, maybe this really is the most wonderful time of year after all.
Soul warmed and vibes at an all time high, you make an off the cuff comment about the Christmas dinner that’s inevitably going to follow these wonderous festive preparations. Something so small and seemingly inconsequential, like what combination of vegetables are we going for this year? How would we all feel about making our own gravy for a change? Gabby babe did you say your Mum had that Ocado voucher we could use?
To most people, that would be the start of one of the most important, and enjoyable, discussions of the academic year. So why are two of your housemates now shiftily looking round the room as if they’d suddenly be anywhere else but here? All eyes are on them as the rest of the group wait for them to muster up the expected enthusiasm. After what feels like a painful few minutes, Gabby announces that no, her Mum probably doesn’t have that Ocado voucher anymore, and maybe we should all go to Weatherspoon’s for Christmas Dinner instead.
Weatherspoons. For Christmas Dinner.
The mulled wine that was so sweet and soothing ten minutes ago is now rising to the back of your throat like toxic bile, ready to be emitted over Gabby and her outrageous suggestions any second. She tries to reason that going out is just less hassle: no slaving away in the kitchen, no washing up, no arguments about who ate the last of the pigs in blankets.
You feel your blood pressure begin to rise as you notice the rest of your friends actually listening carefully to what she’s saying, starting to take note of her suggestions, maybe even nodding slightly. Good, wholesome, people, being indoctrinated with the ludicrous idea that going out for a painfully mediocre meal in a painfully mediocre chain pub is ever going to come close to the squad Christmas cook up.
What Gabby doesn’t realise is it’s not about the banal tasks that accompany the house dinner. Sure, peeling and chopping 2kg of carrots has the potential to be a bit of a ball ache, and being on broccoli boiling duty as appose to turkey basting is always going to be a bit bum out. And yeah, you’ll give it to her, there’s going to be a shit load to wash up too, and probably some gravy on the carpet at some point.
But the squad cook up is an undeniably sacred ritual, one that stands for love, respect and commitment. What’s a few hours perfecting an online shop or peeling some potatoes, when you get so much more in return? Aside from the obvious fact that food quality wise, chain pubs are obviously where Christmas dinners go to die, by going out you miss out on so much more than just succulent meat or well glazed parsnips.
There’ll be no bopping around to Buble in your cosy Christmas socks as you work through the vat of mulled wine on the stove. It’ll be a couple of bottles of cheap shitty Zinfadel in plastic wine glasses, because God forbid, you won’t be able to afford Prosecco if you go out either.
There’s going to be no smell of turkey infusing every room in the house and drunken, jovial games of charades as it cooks, instead you’ll be surrounded by soul-less plastic Christmas trees, screaming kids and underpaid staff who think Christmas is the devils spawn. Forget gorging on the leftovers and watching Love Actually together the next day too, the fun is over as soon as you finish the one, solitary plate of food you were served.
The house Christmas dinner represents more than just turkey and trimmings, and the Tesco value mince pies that follow. It symbolises unity and strength, friendships that have the potential to last a life time. By slaving over that turkey in your pokey little kitchen with your temperamental oven and broken extractor fan, you’re entering into an unspoken acceptance between your mates that as a group, you are all worth more than rubbery meat, overly stewed veg and an even blander, more underwhelming atmosphere.