The temperature is turning, and I’ve been patiently waiting for the first frost to arrive as my prompt for picking sloes. A yearly ritual to ensure that my lovely mother-in-law has her annual supply of ingredients to furnish me with my favourite festive tipple at the dinner table… sloe gin.
This year’s sloes will make next year’s batch. The deep red ruby liquid, almost syrupy in consistency, makes for a fine sippin’ treat post-Christmas dinner.
The day is always a grand family affair, with sometimes a dozen or more of us crammed into the humble dining room in Hamspthwaite. It makes for a fine dinner, with lots of fun.
 One particular ritual that I never fail to find intriguing is sharing the notoriously poor jokes contained within the Christmas crackers. As we don our paper hats, munch on turkey and pull the crackers, the unity of groaning at the pitiful puns actually unites us.
Curiously, ‘proper’ jokes may not always be funny to everyone and can therefore divide a room. But when a poor joke is told, we all groan together in agreement. How ironic, a mediocre joke having the power to unite us at Christmas.|
But the best jokes, for me, are those that are so bad, they are actually good. Can you see where this is going? Okay, brace yourself…Who hides in a bakery at Christmas? A mince spy.
If you laughed at that, then I achieved my goal, and if you groaned, then you were united with the thousands of other readers doing the same, and I still achieved my goal—The Dalesman, uniting Yorkshire folk since 1939. Merry Christmas.

Dan Clare – Editor

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