December Distilled: Emma Jane Unsworth

| Nov 24, 2018

Words by: Emma Jane Unsworth | Photos by: Eden Keane

Wilma asks writer Emma Jane Unsworth to distil December to her essentials, which includes magnums of Baileys, pints with her dad, establishing new traditions with her boy; and reflections on the gift of time. Naturally the author of Animals is a bit of a baller.

All I want for Christmas is…

Some kind of resolution to this Brexit shitshow. And a magnum of Baileys.

My festive traditions include…

I have a few so bear with me…

Watching Home Alone, alone, in my home. I usually do this in early December. The first time I saw this film I laughed more than I think I’ve laughed at anything before or since. The sequence with the burglars breaking in is pure slapstick gold. I’ll get under a blanket and crack open a box of mince pies (the cheap ones taste better, imo) and laugh my slippersocks off.

Having a pint with my dad on Christmas Eve around the Northern Quarter in Manchester. We both love the same kind of pubs – old, brassy, not too fancy, good ales, good chat at the bar. We’ll get stuck into some highfalutin conversations and my dad will wax lyrical about the universe and all will be well in the world.

Hanging my son’s first stocking – he’s two but he didn’t have a clue about Christmas last year. This year he is ON IT. I’ve got him a stocking with his name embroidered on it from Etsy. I might just fill it with tangerines and walnuts like my parents used to in some kind of weird nostalgic wartime way. Well, maybe I’ll add one small chocolate snowman. It IS Christmas.

My husband and I met on New Year’s Eve so we’ll probably drink some pink champagne and cocktails and picklebacks and have every intention of staying up past midnight and then crawl to bed at 10.00pm, cursing each other for falling asleep on the couch. Then we’ll have a hangover all day on New Year’s Day, which is my longest-held tradition of all.

This year I’m getting everyone…

I’m totally feeling time as a gift this year. I’d rather go for a drink or a meal with a friend and spend the money that way – or even a night away together if we can afford it. I think a little trip together with just one friend or a small group of friends is my absolute favourite present. Just time to chat and think with no pressure, to just BE around each other – that feels like it gets rarer, so that’s what I’d like my friends and I to give each other whenever we can.

December is a time when…

When I’ve signed off all my work for the year, which usually happens around the second week in December, I make a list of everything I’ve done that year, including projects in progress. I’m a person who works herself very hard, like pit-pony hard, and I never feel as though I’ve done enough, but when I see that list, I often think, okay, I deserve a few weeks off now. I also usually try and read a lot over Christmas and New Year, when I’ve got family around to help with my wonderful but wild toddler, so I can claw back a bit of reading time. I’ve already got my reading stack lined up for this year and I’m excited to get stuck in.

My one December essential is…

Good slippers. I’m on the lookout for a pair. I’m thinking some kind of leather moccasins. Comfy, but practical and hard-wearing with a decent sole to handle a bit of outside now and then. Good slippers are a winter staple. Good slippers and soup.

An early 2019 resolution is…

Spending time! 100%. Time is love, if not money.

Emma Jane Unsworth’s best selling novel, Animals becomes Animals the movie in January 2019. Emma’s third novel, titled Grown Ups will be published next year by The Borough Press.


Have an Unsworth kind of Christmas

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