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History UsefulNotes / AVeryBritishChristmas

9th May '16 3:35:09 PM karstovich2
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* ''A great big roast bird:'' Turkey is probably the most common mainstay, but some celebrate with a more traditional goose or a game bird instead. The latter are generally not eaten under any other normal circumstances. Goose was the bird of choice in Victorian-era Christmas (described in Creator/CharlesDickens' ''Literature/AChristmasCarol''), but is now uncommon and much more expensive; although, unlike turkey, you don't need time-consuming preparation and careful timing to make sure that it actually tastes of something or require drowning in gravy to give it some moisture (unless you've done the aforementioned time-consuming preparation and careful timing).[[note]]Several culinary authorities on both sides of the Atlantic have expounded at length on the best way to get a perfectly-roasted bird, but this is the essential consensus: (1) ''brine'' the raw turkey for at least a day in a [[CaptainObvious brine]] containing a seemingly-alarming amount of salt for the amount of water, and possibly some other ingredients; (2) do ''not'' stuff the turkey, at least not until it's already done; (3) cook the bird at low temperature, turning and basting every so often, for quite a long time; (4) because the low-and-slow method makes for wonderfully tender and juicy meat but generally doesn't produce a particularly crispy (or even cooked-seeming) skin, brush the skin of the nearly-finished bird with oil and roast at [[OvenLogic incredibly high temperature for an incredibly short period]] to give it that nice colour and crisp texture. Or, you can replace (3) and (4) (and make (2) impossible) by "spatchcocking" the bird, removing the backbone and either removing or breaking the sternum so you can flatten it out and roast it at high temperature for a relatively quick cooking time, but this seriously cuts into the traditions about carving the roast bird, as you won't get the classic "roast bird" shape and will probably have to chop up the meat before it gets to the table rather than at the table as is traditional. There are a lot of variations on the theme, but that's the essence of it. As an aside, goose, duck, and other waterfowl do not require any of this, nor does wild turkey; also, the idea of ''deep frying'' the turkey (which avoids the juiciness problem) has yet to cross from America to Britain, and given that Britons' gardens tend to be rather smaller than Americans' lawns and the risk of [[IncendiaryExponent truly gigantic columnar fires]] from turkey fryers, perhaps this is for the best.[[/note]]

to:

* ''A great big roast bird:'' Turkey is probably the most common mainstay, but some celebrate with a more traditional goose or a game bird instead. The latter are generally not eaten under any other normal circumstances. Goose was the bird of choice in Victorian-era Christmas (described in Creator/CharlesDickens' ''Literature/AChristmasCarol''), but is now uncommon and much more expensive; although, unlike turkey, you don't need time-consuming preparation and careful timing to make sure that it actually tastes of something or require drowning in gravy to give it some moisture (unless you've done the aforementioned time-consuming preparation and careful timing).[[note]]Several culinary authorities on both sides of the Atlantic have expounded at length on the best way to get a perfectly-roasted bird, but this is the essential consensus: (1) ''brine'' the raw turkey for at least a day in a [[CaptainObvious brine]] containing a seemingly-alarming amount of salt for the amount of water, and possibly some other ingredients; (2) do ''not'' stuff the turkey, at least not until it's already done; (3) cook the bird at low temperature, turning and basting every so often, for quite a long time; (4) because the low-and-slow method makes for wonderfully tender and juicy meat but generally doesn't produce a particularly crispy (or even cooked-seeming) skin, brush the skin of the nearly-finished bird with oil and roast at [[OvenLogic incredibly high temperature for an incredibly short period]] to give it that nice colour and crisp texture. Or, you can replace (3) and (4) (and make violating rule (2) impossible) by "spatchcocking" the bird, removing the backbone and either removing or breaking the sternum so you can flatten it out and roast it at high temperature for a relatively quick cooking time, but this seriously cuts into the traditions about carving the roast bird, as you won't get the classic "roast bird" shape and will probably have to chop up the meat before it gets to the table rather than at the table as is traditional. There are a lot of variations on the theme, but that's the essence of it. As an aside, goose, duck, and other waterfowl do not require any of this, nor does wild turkey; also, the idea of ''deep frying'' the turkey (which avoids the juiciness problem) has yet to cross from America to Britain, and given that Britons' gardens tend to be rather smaller than Americans' lawns and the risk of [[IncendiaryExponent truly gigantic columnar fires]] from turkey fryers, perhaps this is for the best.[[/note]]
7th May '16 8:51:04 PM karstovich2
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** Families beginning to stockpile vast quantities of alcohol, usually in the garage or utility room, as early in the year as September is not unheard of -- commonly champagne, Buck's Fizz, brandy, Bailey's, wines and so forth. Mysteriously, though, by Christmas Day evening every seventh bottle will have transmogrified into certain odd types of liqueur that no one likes and just end up festering malevolently on a shelf somewhere. Forever.[[note]](Or at least until your family produces the oddball uncle/aunt who actually likes it... or a sufficiently desperate youth/alcoholic, but we don't like to talk about that).[[/note]] In UsefulNotes/{{Scotland}}, the whisky will come out (usually some that has been given on the day as a gift), and in the less salubrious quarters the streets will run purple with Buckfast[[note]]A purple-coloured tonic wine made at the abbey in Buckfast, near Buckfastleigh, Devonshire.[[/note]].

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** Families beginning to stockpile vast quantities of alcohol, usually in the garage or utility room, as early in the year as September is not unheard of -- commonly champagne, Buck's Fizz, brandy, Bailey's, wines and so forth. Mysteriously, though, by Christmas Day evening every seventh bottle will have transmogrified into certain odd types of liqueur that no one likes and just end up festering malevolently on a shelf somewhere. Forever.[[note]](Or at least until your family produces the oddball uncle/aunt who actually likes it... or a sufficiently desperate youth/alcoholic, but we don't like to talk about that).[[/note]] In UsefulNotes/{{Scotland}}, the whisky will come out (usually some that has been given on the day as a gift), and in the less salubrious quarters the streets will run purple with Buckfast[[note]]A Buckfast.[[note]]A purple-coloured tonic wine "tonic wine" made at the abbey in Buckfast, near Buckfastleigh, Devonshire.[[/note]].Devonshire. Its Scottish consumers are wont to call it "Wreck the Hoose Juice" (where "hoose" is dialectical for "house"), and it has roughly the same reputation that [[ATankardOfMooseUrine Thunderbird, MD 20/20, and Cisco]] have in North America.[[/note]]
7th May '16 8:27:23 PM karstovich2
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** ''Brussels sprouts:'' As in the place in Belgium. Whilst other veg does get served, these are a particular requirement. A green vegetable, essentially miniscule cabbages somewhere between ball bearings and golf balls in size, hardness and edibility -- or reduced to little more than greenish slimy mush if particularly unlucky. People either [[LoveItOrHateIt love or ''really'' hate]] them.[[note]] (This is largely because they contain a foul-tasting chemical that many people genetically lack the ability to taste: generally those who do not like sprouts are the ones who can taste it.) Obviously, this only applies if the sprouts are done properly; even people who ''can't'' taste the chemical and ''do'' like sprouts in general terms will dislike them if you treat them wrong, which generally means overcooking them.[[/note]] But it doesn't matter; they're on the plate, and that means today you eat it. %% Previous Tropers have had this problem. Resist the temptation to defend or decry this vegetable.%%

to:

** ''Brussels sprouts:'' As in the place in Belgium. Whilst other veg does get served, these are a particular requirement. A green vegetable, essentially miniscule cabbages somewhere between ball bearings and golf balls in size, hardness and edibility -- or reduced to little more than greenish slimy mush if particularly unlucky. People either [[LoveItOrHateIt love or ''really'' hate]] them.[[note]] (This [[note]]This is largely because they contain a foul-tasting chemical that many people genetically lack the ability to taste: generally those who do not like sprouts are the ones who can taste it.) Obviously, this only applies if the sprouts are done properly; it. "Largely," because even people who ''can't'' taste the chemical and ''do'' like sprouts in general terms will dislike them if you treat them wrong, which generally means overcooking them--and it is very easy to overcook sprouts, especially if you're boiling them.[[/note]] But it doesn't matter; they're on the plate, and that means today you eat it. %% Previous Tropers have had this problem. Resist the temptation to defend or decry this vegetable.%%
7th May '16 8:21:16 PM karstovich2
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The general aim is to consume at least 40% of one's own body mass over the course of the day -- aided by the vast choice lying around of chocolate selection boxes, sausage rolls, mince pies, mulled wine, German confectionery, cheese-and-pineapple on sticks, and all those 'nibbles' supermarkets only seem to stock around Christmas: big bags of mixed nuts, large tubs of Twiglets (ask a Brit) and Mini Cheddars (ditto), cheese footballs, cheese straws, cheese twists, cheese puffs, cheese selection boxes, little sausages on cocktail sticks (with little cubes of cheese), a host of fun-sized things such as burgers and pizzas, all manner of peculiar savoury bites, 'luxury biscuit assortment' tins, etc. etc. These all turn up in the shops because they're theoretically what people like to buy at Christmastime; people only buy them because they're what turns up in the supermarket aisle labelled "Christmas" stuff and it's what seems expected of them; thousands of vol-au-vents remain untouched in freezers past June, but capitalism remains happy. It all appears from around the time the schools go back in autumn, which means every year the same stories turn up in the press featuring the person whose shop-bought Christmas pudding has turned out to be labelled "Best before 1st December" or similar.\\

to:

The general aim at Christmas is to consume at least 40% of one's own body mass over the course of the day -- aided by the vast choice lying around of chocolate selection boxes, sausage rolls, mince pies, mulled wine, German confectionery, cheese-and-pineapple on sticks, and all those 'nibbles' supermarkets only seem to stock around Christmas: big bags of mixed nuts, large tubs of Twiglets (ask a Brit) and Mini Cheddars (ditto), cheese footballs, cheese straws, cheese twists, cheese puffs, cheese selection boxes, little sausages on cocktail sticks (with little cubes of cheese), a host of fun-sized things such as burgers and pizzas, all manner of peculiar savoury bites, 'luxury biscuit assortment' tins, etc. etc. These all turn up in the shops because they're theoretically what people like to buy at Christmastime; people only buy them because they're what turns up in the supermarket aisle labelled "Christmas" stuff and it's what seems expected of them; thousands of vol-au-vents remain untouched in freezers past June, but capitalism remains happy. It all appears from around the time the schools go back in autumn, which means every year the same stories turn up in the press featuring the person whose shop-bought Christmas pudding has turned out to be labelled "Best before 1st December" or similar.\\
7th May '16 8:20:31 PM karstovich2
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A note before we begin: in Britain, many things are called "pudding" which bear no resemblance to what Americans and Canadians call "pudding"--or, for that matter, to each other. Originally, "pudding" meant any number of dishes that would have historically been produced by taking paste or liquid mixture, stuffing it into a sausage casing (i.e. the inner lining of a sheep's small intestine), and then baking, boiling, or steaming the stuffed intestine until it set. Eventually, the terminology extended to dishes that began with a similar mixture but was stuffed into a cloth lining rather than animal guts. From there, the meaning of the word diverged; since many of these things were sweet mixtures, any sweet dish that sets after boiling, baking, or steaming became known as a "pudding"--but so did many savoury dishes that happen to be baked, steamed, or boiled and take the shape of their container.

to:

A note before we begin: in Britain, many things are called "pudding" which bear no resemblance to what Americans and Canadians call "pudding"--or, for that matter, to each other. Originally, "pudding" meant any number of dishes that would have historically been produced by taking a paste or liquid mixture, stuffing it into a sausage casing (i.e. the inner lining of a sheep's small intestine), and then baking, boiling, or steaming the stuffed intestine until it set.the mixture set into a solid (usually a soft one). Eventually, the terminology extended to dishes that began with a similar mixture but was stuffed into a cloth lining rather than animal guts. From there, the meaning of the word diverged; since many of these things were sweet mixtures, any sweet dish that sets after boiling, baking, or steaming became known as a "pudding"--but so did many savoury dishes that happen to be baked, steamed, or boiled and take the shape of their container.
7th May '16 8:19:08 PM karstovich2
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A note before we begin: in Britain, many things are called "pudding" which bear no resemblance to what Americans and Canadians call "pudding"--or, for that matter, to each other. Originally, "pudding" meant any number of dishes that would have historically been produced by taking paste or liquid mixture, stuffing it into a sausage casing (i.e. the inner lining of a sheep's small intestine), and then baking, boiling, or steaming the stuffed intestine until it set. Eventually, the terminology extended to dishes that began with a similar mixture but was stuffed into a cloth lining rather than animal guts. From there, the meaning of the word diverged; since many of these things were sweet mixtures, any sweet dish that sets after boiling, baking, or steaming became known as a "pudding," as did many savoury dishes that happen to be baked, steamed, or boiled and take the shape of their container.

to:

A note before we begin: in Britain, many things are called "pudding" which bear no resemblance to what Americans and Canadians call "pudding"--or, for that matter, to each other. Originally, "pudding" meant any number of dishes that would have historically been produced by taking paste or liquid mixture, stuffing it into a sausage casing (i.e. the inner lining of a sheep's small intestine), and then baking, boiling, or steaming the stuffed intestine until it set. Eventually, the terminology extended to dishes that began with a similar mixture but was stuffed into a cloth lining rather than animal guts. From there, the meaning of the word diverged; since many of these things were sweet mixtures, any sweet dish that sets after boiling, baking, or steaming became known as a "pudding," as "pudding"--but so did many savoury dishes that happen to be baked, steamed, or boiled and take the shape of their container.
7th May '16 8:17:54 PM karstovich2
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Almost lavish enough to deserve its own Useful Note. There are many rather specific parts to this -- although all won't usually be included at once. Tends to be even bigger than the American variation, as UsefulNotes/ThanksgivingDay is not celebrated in Britain so the full weight, so to speak, of tradition lands on Christmas. JabbaTableManners may result. The general aim is to consume at least 40% of one's own body mass over the course of the day -- aided by the vast choice lying around of chocolate selection boxes, sausage rolls, mince pies, mulled wine, German confectionery, cheese-and-pineapple on sticks, and all those 'nibbles' supermarkets only seem to stock around Christmas: big bags of mixed nuts, large tubs of Twiglets (ask a Brit) and Mini Cheddars (ditto), cheese footballs, cheese straws, cheese twists, cheese puffs, cheese selection boxes, little sausages on cocktail sticks (with little cubes of cheese), a host of fun-sized things such as burgers and pizzas, all manner of peculiar savoury bites, 'luxury biscuit assortment' tins, etc. etc. These all turn up in the shops because they're theoretically what people like to buy at Christmastime; people only buy them because they're what turns up in the supermarket aisle labelled "Christmas" stuff and it's what seems expected of them; thousands of vol-au-vents remain untouched in freezers past June, but capitalism remains happy. It all appears from around the time the schools go back in autumn, which means every year the same stories turn up in the press featuring the person whose shop-bought Christmas pudding has turned out to be labelled "Best before 1st December" or similar.\\

to:

Almost lavish enough to deserve its own Useful Note. There are many rather specific parts to this -- although all won't usually be included at once. Tends to be even bigger than the American variation, as UsefulNotes/ThanksgivingDay is not celebrated in Britain so the full weight, so to speak, of tradition lands on Christmas. JabbaTableManners may result.

A note before we begin: in Britain, many things are called "pudding" which bear no resemblance to what Americans and Canadians call "pudding"--or, for that matter, to each other. Originally, "pudding" meant any number of dishes that would have historically been produced by taking paste or liquid mixture, stuffing it into a sausage casing (i.e. the inner lining of a sheep's small intestine), and then baking, boiling, or steaming the stuffed intestine until it set. Eventually, the terminology extended to dishes that began with a similar mixture but was stuffed into a cloth lining rather than animal guts. From there, the meaning of the word diverged; since many of these things were sweet mixtures, any sweet dish that sets after boiling, baking, or steaming became known as a "pudding," as did many savoury dishes that happen to be baked, steamed, or boiled and take the shape of their container.

The general aim is to consume at least 40% of one's own body mass over the course of the day -- aided by the vast choice lying around of chocolate selection boxes, sausage rolls, mince pies, mulled wine, German confectionery, cheese-and-pineapple on sticks, and all those 'nibbles' supermarkets only seem to stock around Christmas: big bags of mixed nuts, large tubs of Twiglets (ask a Brit) and Mini Cheddars (ditto), cheese footballs, cheese straws, cheese twists, cheese puffs, cheese selection boxes, little sausages on cocktail sticks (with little cubes of cheese), a host of fun-sized things such as burgers and pizzas, all manner of peculiar savoury bites, 'luxury biscuit assortment' tins, etc. etc. These all turn up in the shops because they're theoretically what people like to buy at Christmastime; people only buy them because they're what turns up in the supermarket aisle labelled "Christmas" stuff and it's what seems expected of them; thousands of vol-au-vents remain untouched in freezers past June, but capitalism remains happy. It all appears from around the time the schools go back in autumn, which means every year the same stories turn up in the press featuring the person whose shop-bought Christmas pudding has turned out to be labelled "Best before 1st December" or similar.\\



** ''Brussels sprouts:'' As in the place in Belgium. Whilst other veg does get served, these are a particular requirement. A green vegetable, essentially miniscule cabbages somewhere between ball bearings and golf balls in size, hardness and edibility -- or reduced to little more than greenish slimy mush if particularly unlucky. People either [[LoveItOrHateIt love or ''really'' hate]] them.[[note]] (This is largely because they contain a foul-tasting chemical that many people genetically lack the ability to taste: generally those who do not like sprouts are the ones who can taste it.)[[/note]] But it doesn't matter; they're on the plate, and that means today you eat it. %% Previous Tropers have had this problem. Resist the temptation to defend or decry this vegetable.%%

to:

** ''Brussels sprouts:'' As in the place in Belgium. Whilst other veg does get served, these are a particular requirement. A green vegetable, essentially miniscule cabbages somewhere between ball bearings and golf balls in size, hardness and edibility -- or reduced to little more than greenish slimy mush if particularly unlucky. People either [[LoveItOrHateIt love or ''really'' hate]] them.[[note]] (This is largely because they contain a foul-tasting chemical that many people genetically lack the ability to taste: generally those who do not like sprouts are the ones who can taste it.)[[/note]] ) Obviously, this only applies if the sprouts are done properly; even people who ''can't'' taste the chemical and ''do'' like sprouts in general terms will dislike them if you treat them wrong, which generally means overcooking them.[[/note]] But it doesn't matter; they're on the plate, and that means today you eat it. %% Previous Tropers have had this problem. Resist the temptation to defend or decry this vegetable.%%



* ''Christmas Pudding:'' Also known as "plum pudding" or "figgy pudding". It's a very dark, rich steamed suet pudding[[note]](note that ''pudding'' in this case is not the North American custardy stuff, but rather a bulbous sort of dense, curranty booze-soaked spice cake[[/note]], with a lot of dried fruit, nuts and alcohol. May contain silver sixpences (no longer legal tender) to give luck and major dental damage to whoever finds the damned things. Tradition is to pour yet more alcohol, usually brandy, over it once more for good luck immediately before serving and then set the whole thing alight for a bit with all the lights turned off. Providing fabrics, hair and especially eyebrows are covered, you don't trip bringing it in and everyone maintains a 5 foot clear radius, this will safely provoke "oohs" and "aahs" and add those pleasingly tangy top notes of ethanol and charcoal. If this has an ancient meaning, most have forgotten it. Christmas pudding can be made at home, but are usually bought beforehand -- Harrods' puddings are considered the best pre-made. If made at home, it will have been done so ''either'' according to a thousand-year old recipe passed down from mother to daughter, ''or'', more usually, borrowed from a celebrated TV chef's recently purchased Christmas-themed cookbook. Traditionally the mix is, uh, mixed on 'Stir-Up Sunday', the last Sunday before the season of Advent -- over a month before the eating date -- with everyone in the family taking a turn at stirring the pudding, starting with the oldest member and finishing with the youngest, and each person making a private wish. The truly dedicated, however, make their Christmas pudding (and occasionally the cake; see below) on the Advent Sunday the ''year before'' it is due to be eaten, to give it a year to 'mature'. Whether this improves the flavour is always hotly debated. In the weeks/months between making and serving, the pudding must be 'fed' (i.e. be lovingly doused in alcohol) periodically. Since Christmas puddings just never go off, and they're kind of dense and huge, it's also an unofficial tradition to have a good deal left in a tin for most of the rest of the year.

to:

* ''Christmas Pudding:'' Also known as "plum pudding" or "figgy pudding". It's a very dark, rich steamed suet pudding[[note]](note that ''pudding'' in this case is not the North American custardy stuff, but rather a pudding (a bulbous sort of dense, curranty booze-soaked spice cake[[/note]], cake) with a lot of dried fruit, nuts and alcohol.alcohol, generally cooked by steaming the batter in a cloth wrapping or sack. May contain silver sixpences (no longer legal tender) to give luck and major dental damage to whoever finds the damned things. Tradition is to pour yet more alcohol, usually brandy, over it once more for good luck immediately before serving and then set the whole thing alight for a bit with all the lights turned off. Providing fabrics, hair and especially eyebrows are covered, you don't trip bringing it in and everyone maintains a 5 foot clear radius, this will safely provoke "oohs" and "aahs" and add those pleasingly tangy top notes of ethanol and charcoal. If this has an ancient meaning, most have forgotten it. Christmas pudding can be made at home, but are usually bought beforehand -- Harrods' puddings are considered the best pre-made. If made at home, it will have been done so ''either'' according to a thousand-year old recipe passed down from mother to daughter, ''or'', more usually, borrowed from a celebrated TV chef's recently purchased Christmas-themed cookbook. Traditionally the mix is, uh, mixed on 'Stir-Up Sunday', the last Sunday before the season of Advent -- over a month before the eating date -- with everyone in the family taking a turn at stirring the pudding, starting with the oldest member and finishing with the youngest, and each person making a private wish. The truly dedicated, however, make their Christmas pudding (and occasionally the cake; see below) on the Advent Sunday the ''year before'' it is due to be eaten, to give it a year to 'mature'. Whether this improves the flavour is always hotly debated. In the weeks/months between making and serving, the pudding must be 'fed' (i.e. be lovingly doused in alcohol) periodically. Since Christmas puddings just never go off, and they're kind of dense and huge, it's also an unofficial tradition to have a good deal left in a tin for most of the rest of the year.
6th May '16 5:57:11 PM AndIntroducingALeg
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Added DiffLines:

** ''Pigs in Blankets'' are a popular secondary meat feature, consisting of sausages wrapped in bacon. They are well-worth trying.
6th May '16 5:50:27 PM AndIntroducingALeg
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Added DiffLines:

** ''Mashed Potato:'' Don't ask. It's just sort of ''there''.
3rd May '16 8:51:23 AM Morgenthaler
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** Creator/MichaelCaine appears to be a rather incongruous festive favourite (making him all the more perfect in ''Film/TheMuppetChristmasCarol''). Usually a toss up between the aforementioned ''Great Escape'', ''{{Zulu}}'' and ''TheItalianJob''. It's also traditional for every adult male to quote all the iconic lines, and then discuss how iconic those lines are, and then rank them in order of how iconic they are, and then argue over the order.

to:

** Creator/MichaelCaine appears to be a rather incongruous festive favourite (making him all the more perfect in ''Film/TheMuppetChristmasCarol''). Usually a toss up between the aforementioned ''Great Escape'', ''{{Zulu}}'' ''Film/{{Zulu}}'' and ''TheItalianJob''.''Film/TheItalianJob1969''. It's also traditional for every adult male to quote all the iconic lines, and then discuss how iconic those lines are, and then rank them in order of how iconic they are, and then argue over the order.



** The film adaptation of Roald Dahl's ''{{Matilda}}'' used to be unavoidable but has slowly been replaced by ''Film/HowTheGrinchStoleChristmas'', even though everyone has a copy of it recorded onto VCR from TheNineties.

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** The film adaptation of Roald Dahl's ''{{Matilda}}'' ''Film/{{Matilda}}'' used to be unavoidable but has slowly been replaced by ''Film/HowTheGrinchStoleChristmas'', even though everyone has a copy of it recorded onto VCR from TheNineties.
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