Happy Boxing Day around the British Commonwealth, Happy St Stephen's Day in Europe, and Happy Saturday in America. It is the second day of Christmastide and, because it falls on a weekend, wherever you are and in whatever degree of lockdown, you might be in the mood for a few festive diversions this day.
Traditionally in Her Majesty's Dominions this is a day to stampede to the malls, but, if you're in Tier Four or similar, no chance of that, and you'll have to make do with stampeding in solitary confinement around your council flat. This piece, from Mark in The Sunday Telegraph twenty-one years ago, celebrates the way it used to be:
The post-Christmas sales are the apotheosis of the British experience. First, getting there is hell: last year the M25 was brought to a complete standstill - or rather an even more complete standstill than usual - when 100,000 shoppers endeavoured to reach the Lakeside shopping complex at Thurrock. Imagine: 100,000 people who want to spend the day trying to get to Thurrock, and failing.
Second, once you get there, don't expect any, um, facilities: if you're thinking of camping out, bear in mind that in the entire length of Oxford Street there are seven public conveniences.
Third, the only stars you'll see are Mr Fayed and someone who used to be in a spin-off from Dynasty.
Fourth, as at Wimbledon, the foreigners are beginning to move in. Last year at Harrods, one Russian bought ten washing-machines and ten dryers and then paid pounds 3,000 to ship them back to Moscow. God knows why. If you plug ten washing-machines into the wall in Moscow every light in Belarus will go out.
Ah, the good old days. Chance would be a fine thing. This year, if you're spending the day walled up in the rec room and you exhausted the delights of Netflix four months back, we hope you'll want to check out Mark's 2020 Christmas show, with two hours of caroling and conversation from across the decades with Martha Stewart, Randy Bachman, Siân Phillips, Dana, Everything But the Girl and other guests, and Steyn visiting Yuletide festivities in Indiana, Michigan, Quebec and elsewhere:
Thank you for all your kind comments about this year's show. Mark's fellow Canadian Esti from the Schwa raves:
Thanks Mark - this was a stunning show. My family & I were smiling throughout. Merry Christmas to everyone. No matter what we see around us, the Christmas message is one of hope for our future. Wishing everyone all the best. Looking forward to the cruise in 2021 & to the next live show!
Happy Boxing Day, Esti. If you'd like a little bit of your Christmas show in video, here are Mark and Dame Siân and a little bit of Dylan Thomas:
More news of Steyn on camera below. If you're in the mood for more music, here's one of the most beloved of Christmas carols. Hanno Schilf joins Steyn to tell the story and Elisabeth von Trapp gives us a unique live performance of a song born in a small church in Austria on Christmas Eve 1818:
A Song of the Week audio special
Antipodean Steyn Clubber Kate Smyth, fresh from crushing Mark like a bug for his indulgence of Martha Stewart's non-shtetl latkes, enjoyed this one:
Truly sublime... this transports the listener from the temporal world: 'All is calm, all is bright.'
Many thanks to Mark, and a merry Christmas to all.
Happy Post-Boxing Day Holiday Sunday or whatever it is in Sydney, Kate.
Also on the musical front, from our Sinatra centennial celebrations five years ago it's half a century of festive Frank:
It's become a tradition each December at SteynOnline to offer Christmas editions of our Tales for Our Time audio adventures. This year we offered a brace of Damon Runyon capers - Three Wise Guys and Dancing Dan's Christmas. But, inspired by lockdown and looting and something that came up on one of his Tucker appearances, Mark also wrote a brand new Yuletide yarn:
The Little Christmas Tree
by Mark Steyn
If you prefer more traditional festive fiction, Mark reads a great Boxing Day caper here:
The Adventure of the Blue Carbuncle
by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
There are many more seasonal stories conveniently listed in Netflix tile format here. And if that still leaves you with time on your hands click on the links below for a cornucopia of Yuletide delights from the Santa Steyn grotto - carols and lessons, movies and memories:
and of course...
BABY, IT'S COLD OUTSIDE
Mark will be spending the last week of the year on the telly, guest-hosting "Tucker Carlson Tonight", starting Monday coast to coast across America. We hope you'll want to tune in.