Picture: From the Sir Charles Grandiose Archives

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22 December, 1995

Yes, 'tis that most invigorating season of the year, when berries glisten gaily upon the snow-bowed branches of the holly tree, when the crisp smell of the roasting pig wafts through the fire-warmed manor, when carolers from the village warble their merry tunes 'pon the porch. (One is still puzzled how they evaded the bear traps set especially for them.) Yes, 'tis Christmas.

One will here answer the query of 'Annie Your Fan in Lyme Regis', which reads:

Dear Sir Charles,

You're my favorite fictional character! Tell me what you do on Christmas Day. We just open our presents and watch the telly.

Annie (and here one notes that one is far from fictional, and has the family tree to prove it), there is no 'telly' in the Christmas festivities at Blandsdown. No, ours is an old-fashioned, traditional Christmas. We respect the traditional in our little corner of the world, and are unwilling to toss our traditions down the rubbish bin with our 'Big Mac' wrappers and 'Croaky Colas'.

Christmas Day begins in a respectful manner, with the Grandiose Family worshipping in the family chapel at precisely ten in the morning. We have, of course, allowed the simple folk, our family servants, to pull the bells of the chapel for the ten hours preceding the service. 'Tis a duty they cheerfully perform, fond as they are of the 'Reverse Surprise Minor' (one has found that plugs of bees' wax in the ears allow one to sleep through the exercise). Then the family returns to the house where a number of servants rub the chilblains from our feet.

Christmas dinner is always a festive affair, held with the best china and full silver service that the servants have spent the previous week polishing. Nor is one's family full of fad-conscious, calorie-counting ne'er-do-wells. No indeed. We have a full twelve courses, come Christmas day, from clear soup to relish to cold soup to fish course to salad to pork to rarebit to beef to sherbet to cheese to the plum pudding to holiday nuts. After the dinner is complete, some four hours after it began, one dismisses the servants to their own first meal of the day. (The Lady Felicia purchases a leg of mutton for their meal, for they are unused to the rich courses of the high-born, and would become bilious with anything but plain food.)

Yet Christmas is a time for giving, is it not? Yes, it is a time when one diverts one's thoughts away from one's own selfish impulses to think of others. To this end, one dresses as Father Christmas, as the Grandiose men have for time eternal--pulling on the red suit, donning the whiskers, wearing the jolly red cap. And in this guise, accompanied by the Grandiose women, one visits one's tenants with a sturdy sack upon one's shoulder. At each house, one opens the sack and collects the presents from the family for oneself. Such a delight it must be for them to give to the one who allows them to remain upon his land for a minimal rent! And what presents they give! One's tenants are not the sort to present one with a mere hand-made pen-wiper. One is often quite touched at the gifts of sterling silver, which must have cost the families a substantial portion of their yearly grain profits.

Yes, this is the true meaning of Christmas.

One sentimentally remains for yet another week,
Sir Charles Grandiose

Picture: Nanny's Plum PuddingTired of Cute writes:

Dear Sir Charles:

What does one do with the avalanche of fussy little poor-quality infant photographs that are included in the mountain of mass-produced, low-brow greeting cards one receives from one's admirers at this time of year? The servant's 'fridge' has no vacant surface area.

Tired of Cute in Tiddleshire

Sir Charles replies:


Oh, how one has been plagued with the same dilemma. Why just this very morn one's butler brought to one upon a silver platter the morning mail, the envelopes gently steamed open so that one might avoid the 'paper cuts'. One withdrew a 'Ziggy' card from a relative in the colonies (one assures one's astonished readers that the relative is of a very minor, and very eccentric canker upon the family tree) and what should drop out but a photograph of a leering, drooling chap with saucers for ears, wearing an undergarment that proclaimed: "I'm a Baaaaaaaaaad [sic] Boy!" No, it was not a photograph of the Prince of Wales. It was a photograph of the relative's infant son.

Yet what to do? The Lady Felicia and oneself have been afflicted with such inclusions for many a year. Yet we cannot throw the photographs to Pippin and La Fontaine (the Lady Felicia's spaniels) to chew, for the emulsions inspire them to expel the contents of their stomachs upon the nearest and most expensive carpet they can find. Similarly, one cannot burn them for the fumes.

The Lady Felicia has hit upon a cunning solution, however. Each time she receives a photograph from parents unjustifiably proud of their breeding capabilities, she simply returns it to the sender after penning upon the back a message such as 'Little Johnny grows with each day to look more and more like his father . . . the milkman, was it, my dear? Or the butcher?' or 'It is too bad that little Sally looks so much more common and chunky than her parents, as if that were possible!' A cheerful message, that is, to let the family know we think of them during this season of generosity and good cheer. Curiously, we have never received any further communication from any of these proud parents again.

Like a bowl full of jelly, one remains
Sir Charles Grandiose

Poisoned writes:

Dear Sir Charles,

With the holidays soon to descend upon us, please advise on polite measures for ensuring no hideous 'food gifts' appear under the family tree. Subtle hints with respect to allergies or other restrictions have not managed to stem the tide of toxic fruitcakes offered by offending relatives.

Poisoned in Peplumford

Sir Charles replies:


One hesitates to point out that during such a season--the very season in which G-d gave unto us his only son, or some such rubbish--such ingratitude borders on the blasphemous! Why, one cannot choose one's presents. That would be intolerable. Oh yes! Why, when one collects tributes from one's servants and tenants (surely the most dull-witted class of people ever to buy a gift), has one told them what to purchase? No, one states flatly. One merely has thoughtfully provided them with a customized list of gentle 'suggestions' six months in advance.

As for the fruitcakes, one suggests collecting them for several years, until one has supply enough to hand them out to the servants as gifts on Boxing Day. Until that time arrives, however, one will merely note that, when unwrapped and slightly aged, the fruitcake makes a remarkably sound emergency replacement for a croquet mallet head.

Decking the halls, one remains,
Sir Charles Grandiose

Stymied writes:

Dear Sir Charles,

I really hate picking out Christmas gifts. Can you help me? I have a wife who has everything she could ever want. But if I don't get her a gift, she'll kill me! What do you get the woman who really does have everything (and has the credit card bills to prove it)?


Sir Charles replies:


Any fool knows the answer to that question! One quite sentimentally declares there are no emotions more manly than the feelings inspired by the tears of a woman who unwraps her tastefully decorated Christmas gift to reveal an antique silver spittoon. The Lady Felicia has amassed quite a collection, thanks to one's thoughtfulness, each Christmas.

One remains
Sir Charles Grandiose

Picture: Good Saint Nick. A Personal Friend of One's.Virginia writes:

Dear Sir Charles,

I am 8 years old. Some of my little friends say there is no Santa Claus. Papa says 'If you see it in Advice From Sir Charles Grandiose it's so.' Please tell me the truth, is there a Santa Claus?

Virginia O'Malley
115 West Ninety-fifth Street
New York City

Sir Charles replies:

Virginia, your little friends are wrong. They have been boonswoggled by watching too much 'Oprah'.

Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus. He exists to bring the children of the titled and the gentry copious amounts of expensive, tasteful gifts that they deserve by right of blood and class. Not believe in Santa Claus! Why, every blue-blooded youth knows that Santa Claus exists, and flourishes with every passing year!

Santa can, however, make only so many stops on his busy night, and only at the nicest manors. Judging from your address, Virginia, yours will not be among them. One suspects you will have to make do with your father in a flame-retardant red suit of unnatural fibers. One doubts he will need the extra padding.

Poetically, one remains,
Sir Charles Grandiose

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