This morning at the Post Office, a lady was chuntering about the cold weather. It’s funny how we British are never happy. Yes, the arrival of the cold weather will play havoc with my bones, but for me there’s nothing nicer than a bright crisp day, lighting the log burner and donning my winceyette PJ’s and bed socks by 7pm.
It’s that most wonderful time of the year and I LOVE IT! Granted, my husband could do with a visit from the three ghosts. However, when he arrives home on Christmas Eve to the aroma of mulled wine and freshly baked sausage rolls I know the festive spirit will rub off. He’ll be able to switch off from worries of his company being taken over and imminent redundancies for a few days. And he won’t complain about how much I’ve spent on Christmas. Well, at least not until the 4th January.
I’ve always been Christmas’s number one fan right back from my earliest memories of pilfering satsuma’s out of the fruit bowl and eating fried leftover Christmas Pudding on Boxing day. Christmas Day was always a rather forlorn affair in our house. Like Tiny Tim, there was no succulent turkey. For Nan and I, a scrawny cockerel from the Co-op was our usual feast, along with sprouts that Nan put on to boil a week beforehand. But the table always looked magical when laid with the best dinner service, I was allowed a Babycham and Nan and I would pull each other’s crackers (although I always had to read her jokes because she couldn’t read the small writing.)
The year I first found out the truth about Santa was devastating. But I can’t blame Susan Abey for ruining it when she told me that it was really my Nan. It was my own fault. You see, as soon as I discovered the truth, I went hunting for all the presents hidden around the house. Consequently, on Christmas day, there were no surprises and I had to feign delight and even worse, lie to my Nan as I opened them. These days I much prefer surprises and ever since, I don't feel a present or shake it to try to guess what’s inside.
Since I met my hubby over twenty-one years ago, I have created my own traditions. Like listening to carols from Kings College while I make the mince pies on Christmas Eve. Another has evolved since an Italian friend brought us a Pannetone round one year and we kept it until Christmas Day. It was so delicious and light to eat on Christmas morning before the big dinner that we’ve bought one every year since. Oh yes, and there’s my greasy, well- thumbed copy of Delia Smith’s Christmas that hubby bought for our first Christmas. It still comes out every October; my bible to keep me on track with the food preparations.
If you’re anything like me at the moment, your life will currently be lists and more lists but over the years, I’ve given up the need for perfection. More often than not, I buy my Christmas pudding these days. The children always make the centrepiece and a good friend, Snailbeach Shepherdess usually makes me a delicious Christmas cake. Christmas is a precious time for us as a family, just the four of us and the dog, of course (although hopefully he won't eat the turkey carcass off the side this year so we'll be able to have cold turkey sandwiches.) We stay at home all Christmas, and the children get to play with their new toys. If they’re happy, we’re happy.
I’m well on with the nesting – another tradition in our house. Although goodness knows why I feel the need to wash the inside windows, paintwork and clean the fridge. Perhaps it’s so that when I’m lying and snoozing after dinner I won’t feel guilty ... I can simply relax and enjoy the festivities after all the build up.
May I wish you all a very special time with the love of family, the happiness of friends and the joy of Christmas.