Wednesday, December 30, 2009

A Very Good Day

Despite my previous carry-on about Christmas, I did in fact enjoy it very much. We spent it as we almost always do, with each other and family (by phone) in the morning, and very dear friends in the afternoon and evening, plus my son phoning from China and a call to my birth mother. Bill and Donna were so kind and helpful that I never felt overwhelmed and all the food worked out well.

I have to make a list the day before with times set out, to make sure I don't forget things, especially after I've had a few glasses of wine. One year I completely forgot that the pudding has to be steamed for at least another two hours on Christmas Day, and we ended up eating it at 10 o'clock at night. Harvey was not amused - he loves his pudding (though he doesn't care much about Christmas cake, and I never make one).

I use the Rich Christmas Pudding recipe from an old edition of the Edmonds Cookery Book (it doesn't appear in the newer ones). The proper time to eat it is straight after the Queen's Message (watched, I must admit, in a somewhat irreverent spirit - we still have the book of Royal photos to which we used to add scurrilous new captions every year, until there was no room left).

It's always the last course in a long slow dinner which this year began at 2 pm with a sort of deconstructed 1950s version of antipasta, using my mother's little coloured plastic sword toothpicks, and moved gently on through beef fillet and salads, cheese, light fruit dessert, and little goodies (mainly for the benefit of droppers-in, of whom we had two this year, though one had already had two meals and understandably didn't want to eat anything else at all).

The pudding had its sprig of holly in the top, picked from the shrubbery by the church up the road during the Afternoon Holly Walk - a much more sedate version of what used to be known as the Drunken Holly Expedition. It was successfully flamed and came with home-made brandy sauce (not, this year, the incredibly alcoholic version I sometimes accidentally produced in the past, when I misjudged the brandy slosh required). And it tasted pretty good, though I did think it was slightly drier than usual, maybe because I didn't make it early enough, or steamed it a bit too long... That's one of the most interesting, if often dismaying, things about cooking - you can never guarantee exactly how things are going to turn out, there are too many variables.

But it didn't matter. The main thing was that everyone had a Very Good Day.

For Harvey's take on our Christmas, see

Monday, December 21, 2009

The Invisible Mother Christmas

As a PS to my last post, in Your Weekend magazine for 19 December, Mike Crean wrote a nostalgic piece about "The Roast of Christmas Past". He recalled the drama of his dad killing the chook or the sheep for their Christmas dinner, and went on to describe the meals they ate.

All good stuff, and I enjoyed it. But I couldn't help noticing that the huge amount of work his mother did to produce it all was completely invisible. She got mentioned only once, near the end, but not in connection with making the dinner itself. That was all described as though invisible hands had created it.

I know he most likely never noticed at the time, because, unlike the killing dramas, what his mother did for Christmas was probably pretty much what she always did, only more so. But I would have thought that, looking back, he might have made some comment about how much effort she put in to produce that magnificent feast every year?

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Bah, humbug

I haven't sent a single Christmas card yet. I have the cards, and the stamps. I even have at least six cards from other people. Every single one of them has been sent by a woman, in most cases on behalf of not only herself, but the other members of her family.

Why do women have to produce Christmas - the thinking, shopping, wrapping, writing, posting, cooking? On top of all the other regular routine, none of which goes away or, in most cases, even diminishes in the lead-up to Christmas? I can understand them doing it for their children, but why should they do it for everyone else? Especially since so much of it does nothing except keep the tills ringing - oh, and destroy a bit more of the planet to produce all that stuff? Next year maybe we could all just go on Christmas strike.