Terry Prone: ‘Most annoying thing about Christmas? Those huge baby Jesus in cribs’

The writer and media communications expert on Christmas traditions and the time her granny tripped up with the turkey

Terry Prone: “The presents that gave most initial pleasure were actually the biggest failures.” Photograph courtesy of the Communications Clinic.

Terry Prone: “The presents that gave most initial pleasure were actually the biggest failures.” Photograph courtesy of the Communications Clinic.


What’s at the top of your Christmas to-do list?
Beat my sister in the generosity stakes.  Her approach to gift-giving was what gave rise to the phrase “love bombing”.

What do you want Santa to bring this year?
Extra blades for my electric saw. (It’s the things you really want that nobody thinks to buy you.)

What’s your most memorable Christmas?
The one where the turkey and its platter parted company. My grandmother used to cook a turkey the size of a small hippo and transport it to the table where a vast number sat, ready to applaud. The best Christmas was when she tripped on the saddleboard between rooms and the turkey took off. Everybody ducked except me so nobody else got the full glory of its flight, landing, greased-runway floor race and final crash against the door.

Given a bit of a cleaning, it was delicious. Nana did sporadic tears for the rest of the day.

What was your favourite Christmas present as a child?
Three. The clarinet. The inlaid mahogany zither. The pogo stick. Yearned and ached for each for months prior to Christmas, convinced they would make me happy into infinity. I now realise that the presents that gave most initial pleasure were actually the biggest failures. Never learned to play either instrument and the pogo stick had all the flighty charm of a pile driver.

Brussel sprouts – food heaven or food hell?
Properly cooked, they’re gorgeous. What’s wrong with you?

What is your favourite Christmas film?
A Christmas Story. Made before characters had to be “relatable”. The father is so perverse, the kid’s experience licking the icy pole is so awful and the lamp the father wins is so gross. Plus, a little community of friends who’ve seen it mutter lines like “blow your eye out” to each other.

Where is the only place you want to be this Christmas?
In the bed before 7pm with at least 20 new books piled high beside me, music playing. In a warm place.

What song has you ‘Rockin’ Around The Christmas Tree’?
The entire Bing Christmas box set. Nobody captures the nostalgia like Crosby. I’ve never roasted a chestnut. Never likely to, now. But the way he sings that line . . .

What gives you that Christmasy feeling?
Music. Lights. Ads. Smells. I don’t fight with the moralists who disapprove of the first signs appearing in September. I don’t fight with them because I’m too busy enjoying the Yule hints.

Christmas week – chilled out or stressed to the max?
Chilled out. That’s because my son does the cooking.

What Christmas tradition do you keep to without fail every year?
Lighting the candle at dusk has a sacramental flavour few sacraments retain.

The most annoying thing about Christmas is . . .
The size of the baby Jesus in most cribs. Huge. Sitting up making speeches with its hands out like Michael Collins. You look at Mary and you look at this allegedly one-day-old baby and the very thought of it . . .

Satin bows and ribbons or brown paper packages tied up with strings?
All of the above. The wrapping-up is the best bit. I’m really good at making ringlets out of the ends of ribbons.

Which gift did you want but never get?
You’re just trying to make me feel guilty for getting everything I ever wanted. But it’s true. Even stuff I didn’t even know I wanted, I got. With bells on. And I still have the bells . . .