My annual traditions begin on my last day of work when I say goodbye to my work colleagues and friends for the season, by going for a Christmas drink.
Christmas is the Holy Grail I aim for, throughout my working year. It is the one time that I know I will definitely be spending quality time with my family and friends. I will not write, nor will I attend my day job. The long break from work, is the only thing that allows me to recharge my batteries and prepare for the coming year. Instead, I will be working harder than ever, but this time the work is important to me, because it is for my family.
Like all traditions, after I have shopped until I could drop and trimmed the house to within an inch of my life, my annual traditions begin on my last day of work when I say goodbye to my work colleagues and friends for the season, by going for a Christmas drink. I cherish this time-out with them; it marks the calm before the storm. The work’s Christmas do, already under the belt; it is a way to take a little time for myself and switch off my overactive mind that never shuts up, or shuts down without persuasion. The very next day the madness begins, but I’m ready for it.
It always begins with the house clean. The preparations run like clockwork, each precision task timed down to the nth degree. Each member of the household is given a task and anyone visiting during this period of preparation is given a duster as well, if they stay still long enough. Then…….. With the house cleaning underway, I make my excuses and disappear into the kitchen.
I know I make it sound easy, but I have to admit that I do spend ages beforehand, combing through recipe books and watching every cookery program I can get my hands on, in the run up to Christmas. I scratch my head and finally decide what gourmet creations I am to make this season, before writing lists for lists of what’s on the Christmas menu and where the pans are going to go. I always end up with more pans than oven rings, turning the whole affair of cooking into a juggling act.
The thing I love most, is when I am left alone in the kitchen to experiment and give the impression that I am a culinary Goddess. I manage to maintain that façade only for as long as everyone stays outside, for those who do want to test their luck and venture into the kitchen, soon find that I am somewhere nearer to Bridgette Jones than Mary Berry. I have somehow managed not to poison said family, over the years, but I’m sure it’s more down to pure luck, rather than good judgement. The house does smell marvellous during this period though, and it is this that makes the whole house feel Christmassy.
The test always comes on the day, in wondering what will be sacrificed as a write-off this year, when a pan boils over, or something is overcooked. Broccoli always takes a hit, year on year, but there’s always at least one other thing that doesn’t turn out. Once everyone has arrived and the final flurry of panicked cooking to get everything finished off at the same time is over, we can eat. I love to see the food laid out on the table and everyone sat down. It’s what makes all the hard work worthwhile.
The eating part can go on for weeks afterwards. I don’t know why I do it each year, but I am always consistent in this, I like most others try to feed the five thousand and make too much, or buy too much in. I usually follow it up with a moan about gaining weight and promise it will be different next year, but we all know that’s never going to happen.
The bit in between Christmas and New Year is where most of our family walks and visits take place. This is the time we have, weather permitting, where we can venture outside to see what the world has to offer. Sales are completely off the itinerary, bar the occasional slip when we venture past a shop with something we just have to have; even though we’ve managed all year without it.
The two weeks we have over Christmas are the fastest and shortest weeks of the year. I still haven’t worked out how that works, but I haven’t found anyone who disagrees with me. Before we know it, New Year’s Eve has arrived and a sherry is extended to all within earshot of our good will and New Year’s resolutions. I know that once the New Year’s Day meal is over, it’s time to get ready to go back to work. It marks the end of the Christmas period and leaves my head spinning, wondering where it all went.
I’ve put a few snapshots together to catalogue some of my Christmas exploits and to mark what I hold dear to me at Christmas and put them up on my page. Just follow this link to view the whole page which also has a poem I wrote.
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