I am heading off to rural south-west France for Christmas. This is the 25th Christmas running that I’ll have spent in France. One of the attractions is that Christmas is a one-day holiday there. Everyone is back at work on Boxing Day. You have a large meal with your family and that’s it. I have no regrets about missing the weeks-long commercial bacchanalia that we experience here in Britain. In our local village in France a few tinsel-draped pine branches are propped against walls — the only sign that a global fête nationale is taking place. Church bells ring for midnight mass. Then it’s over and the pine branches are swiftly removed. Normal life resumes.
This article is an extract from William Boyd's notebook, available in The Spectator Christmas issue