Thursday, 31 December 2009

Duty done

It’s all over for another year!
The midnight was something we hadn’t done in years so was a bit of a treat in terms of a lie in on Christmas morning. Father Christmas had visited and we took it in turns to draw items from our stockings until we’d all run out. Very satisfying! Drinks with the neighbours were bubbly. Lunch went well despite the slightly fraught cook, and I managed to get the pudding properly alight for the first time ever (it needs much more alcohol than I thought necessary). The cracker jokes were even more dreadful than usual. We managed a few pressies before the Queen, and the rest with The Incredibles. We only drank tea, and couldn’t manage more than a few nibbles for supper.
Parents went home on the 27th saying they’d enjoyed themselves, and the in-laws started arriving. Another family tradition: 5 siblings with their 5 spouses and 2 children each, plus the patriarch and his wife. A healthy 22 to feed! A planned leftover turkey was turned into a Thai- and an Indian-style salad with various side dishes including the required vegetarian pastry for the veggie family. The dodgy Pavlova disappeared, as did half the brownies, but the mincemeat tart is loitering in the fridge. Tea was enjoyed by 16 of us after the others had departed. I later discovered that the youngest visitor (amongst those who missed tea) had managed to eat yet another cake under the table apparently noticed only by Eldest. Too much of her mother has clearly rubbed off as she remarked that his behaviour had been matched only by his parents’ inability to provide any form of discipline! He ate nothing but cake on the previous evening when 3 families sat down to bangers/cheese and baked potatoes with baked beans followed by fruit and had left the table before gingerbread muffins were produced. He came back for two. Eldest wondered why anyone would eat anything but cake if they were allowed to eat it without eating any of the other offerings. At least we were prepared for the non-partaking of the first course, followed by two puddings. Eldest didn’t mention the under the table incident until she caught me muttering about people who dropped cake papers on my cream carpet.
But we’re all done. It won’t be our turn to host for three years (don’t ask, I can’t do the maths either).
Now we look forward to dinner this evening, a different sort of entertaining. Happy New Year!

(The photo is of Eldests gift from her knitting grandmother.)

Monday, 21 December 2009

Almost there

The birthday is behind us, and all but two of the people we were expecting turned up at the leisure centre. I failed completely and made my Youngest cry by providing the wrong cake, (a difference of opinion about what a lemon drizzle cake is – apparently I said that was what you called Delia's lemon curd cake…). However no one else noticed it was incorrect, and everyone seemed to enjoy themselves. They were so worn out by the hour playing on the inflatable assault course in the pool that they were extremely well behaved over the birthday tea. They ate all the cake and almost everything else. We were all cleared away and home in time for the Latin dances in the Strictly final. Result!

We sang carols in church yesterday evening and it snowed over night so we're ready to be Christmasy. Cards are now all written so just need delivering. We’ve agreed the decorations can go up today so now we just need to agree who is going to do what. It was much simpler when it was assumed I would do it, now everyone wants a turn. I wonder if I can trust the girls to be kind to one another as they decorate the tree while I hide in the kitchen with the as yet unfinished Christmas cake?
Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, 15 December 2009

Perfect Christmas and Unknowns

I had an interesting conversation with my girls after my last post re perfect Christmases. Apparently I was nearly right about the need for pizza, chocolate and a few presents, but you also need some decorations. However none of this matters if we could have the heating on all day, as being cosy would make all the difference! I have warned Husband in advance of this requirement, having the heating on all day is something I only dream of: Husband is a firm believer in putting on another jumper. But this year I have hopes!

The lists remain long:
25 more cards
Birthday cake for Youngest
Soup for visiting vegetarians’ lunch on Saturday
Party tea for Saturday evening at swimming pool party including (another) cake for an unknown quantity of (pre)teens.*
Only after the ongoing celebrations can I think about decorations, cake icing, present wrapping…

*In fact the list of unknowns is great: school friends at secondary school are unknown, there parents more so. I have no means of contact except through the birthday girl, and no way of knowing whether the invitations were ever shown to a parent. From “They're all coming” to “No one’s coming” in a couple of weeks. No doubt somewhere between lies the number of girls attending. It is impossible to protect children from learning that giving a party is almost never stress free!

Thursday, 10 December 2009

Could it be perfect?

It’s that time of year when no matter how many things you get done there are always more things you could have done that you fear might be the difference between the Perfect Christmas and the OK variety. Why do we do it to ourselves? The family would no doubt be happier if their mother was less stressy; and, so long as there’s pizza and chocolate and presents, don’t much care what else is achieved.

I am in the throws of making the Christmas cards and have even written a few. (But I haven't cleaned the windows so there are shadows on my photo, in case you wondered.) Most presents are bought and some must be wrapped this weekend so they can be taken away by visitors attending Youngest’s birthday lunch on Sunday. This meal is the next on my list of to do’s and is slightly complicated by the wish to be gluten and dairy free for Great Friend to feel included. It’s not difficult, it just means I must think a bit harder about what to make or what not to add – Pavlova for instance can be produced in component parts so that only those who like cream need have some, and it’s one of Youngest’s favourite puddings… and it will use some of the excess of raspberries I have in the freezer courtesy of the allotment. (I had a plan to fill the freezer with meals for the holidays as instructed by all the magazines at this time of year, but had no room in it to do so even if I’d managed to be that organised!)
Less fuss, less stress should be my motto if I was even slightly sensible, instead I shall no doubt continue to rush about trying to get everything done. Better go and make another list.

Tuesday, 1 December 2009


It's the first of December and the Advent calendars are up once more. It is gratifying that despite being 15 and almost 13 there were two girls hopping up and down in front of their trees when they saw them up and ready in the sitting-room! The calendars often feel like a rod to beat me with when I spend November hunting for items small enough (and inexpensive enough) to fill 48 pocket parcels in time for today, but it's well worth it for that reaction. 
They are silk trees, made a few years apart, the first, with its red pot, made for Husband when he was away in Northern Ireland. His tree, as a one off, was filled with a variety of silly or luxurious things to cheer him while away from home for his daughter's first Christmas. He was away the next year too, but by then the advent calendar had been commandeered for Eldest. Mind, in those days a balloon was the height of excitement as a pocket gift. I haven't tried that lately!
Must be time to start on the Christmas cards.