Some of my past Christmases have gone spectacularly wrong, from the festive point of view. In 1989, I spent Christmas Eve courageously hiding under my bed in a Bucharest hotel, as tracer bullets whizzed by my window, and the snowy city echoed to the sound of crazy gunfire.
Christmas Day wasn’t much better and when I eventually made it home I promised my family and myself that I’d try not to let that happen again. But how can you tell?
That particular mad journey had begun with what was supposed to be a day trip to Dresden in what was still East Germany. Just as a later visit to Jerusalem somehow finished up in Mogadishu, a city I had never planned to visit and hope very much never to see again.
And in 2003 I managed to find myself on my way back from a miserable, dark and desperate Baghdad as Christmas approached, slumped in the back of a utility truck as it growled endlessly across the reddish Mars-like desert between the River Euphrates and the Jordanian border.
It was, as it happened, roughly the same journey as the one taken by the Three Wise Men, but it did not feel much like Christmas and I was worried I would not get back in time. I only just did.
Then there were the Moscow Christmases, amid the heedless atheist roar of a Soviet capital that did not recognise Christmas on any date.
Yet they were among the best I have ever had, partly because Russia was then full of hope for change for the better, and partly because, celebrated in the midst of vast hostility and indifference, Christmas became an act of defiance.
Mrs Hitchens ingeniously created a Soviet Christmas dinner with a marvellous Russian goose, raised in a snowy forest and bought from a black-clad grandma on a frozen street corner, who probably would have sold us some magic beans if we had asked nicely.
The pudding (the best I ever ate) was also home-made in Moscow, using dried fruits from ancient orchards by the Caspian Sea, full of tastes mostly forgotten here, and plenty of Armenian brandy. And there was good Georgian wine, from that most beautiful and tragic country.
So that was better than all right. Even the Bucharest Christmas had its happy side when I eventually made it home for a delayed feast, a journey which began when I jumped on the first train out, without any idea where it was going.