Sir Ranulph Fiennes' Perfect Christmas
As Christmas approaches, we often look back on all of the fond years we’ve spent with those closest to us. We smirk at memories of family jokes and ill-advised Christmas dinner gluttony, we revel in showering our loved ones with gifts and receiving our own fair share. It’s a time of love and a time of relaxation and contemplation.
For Sir Ranulph Fiennes, Christmas is best spent with family and friends; with hearty meals, hearty laughs, and a good strong drink.
But not all Christmases can be spent in the comfort of one's own home, surrounded by family and festivity. Certainly not when you’ve travelled the world as extensively and prolifically as Ran has. When asked about the strangest places he’s spent the Christmas season, one memory in particular still holds a lot of meaning for the seasoned explorer.
On Christmas Day 1969, in the blistering heat of the Dhofar desert, Ranulph spent the day eating goat, rice, and dates with 60 of his finest soldiers. There would be many times during his expeditions when celebrations had to be undertaken in an impromptu fashion, but that could never take away from how special they can still be. Whether battling raging Antarctic waters aboard the M.V. Benjamin Bowring or descending a nearly vertical ice cliff, he’ll still make sure to have a little fun.
Ran’s makeshift Christmas dinner feast in Oman is an experience that he still holds close to his heart, and one that serves as a reminder of what makes the season so special for us all - good company and making the most of what we’ve got, and not forgetting that we could always be worse off or unable to celebrate at all.
Giving gifts, too, is a large part of Ranulph’s perfect Christmas. Whether it’s family, friends, or colleagues, Ran is a generous man and no stranger to lending a helping hand. It’s no wonder he was once named by JustGiving as the UK's top celebrity fundraiser - over the course of his many expeditions he has managed to raise nearly £20 million for UK charities.
Perhaps his favourite personal exchange over the years, however, was back in the scorching heat of Dhofar. When he was serving in the British army, he gifted an alarm clock to the Sergeant of his Reconnaissance Platoon - a cheeky and sentimental act that will still provoke a wry smile whenever the story pops up in conversation.
Fondly remembering his youth, Ranulph considers his favourite Christmas present of all time to have been - rather bizarrely - a Zulu pony. He received the gift when he was just eight, back when he lived in South Africa. His grandmother was South African and they had moved there from Britain not long after Ran was born and his father was killed in the war.
His earliest childhood memory is the awe-inspiring, flat-topped Table Mountain, which overlooks Cape Town. Those youthful days are long gone now, but the memories of South African Christmases and the presents he received still live on.
This Christmas season - in the spirit of Ranulph, his family, and all of his many friends and colleagues - perhaps you should raise a toast to the people you find yourself surrounded by. Raise your glass high and be thankful for what you’ve got and the people you choose to spend your time with.
You may not be exchanging gifts in the baking hot sun of Oman or riding a Zulu pony in the shadow of Table Mountain, but you can make your Christmas equally as exciting and meaningful by pouring yourself a tall glass of Sir Ranulph Fiennes’ Great British Rum and enjoying the festivities with those that matter the most to you.