Saturday, December 18, 2010

Christmas is coming!

So, Christmas is almost here... What have you done about it??

I'm ill and that's my excuse- my turkey and goose haven't been ordered, I still haven't made a Christmas pudding, I can't remember what else needs to be done.... But I refuse to be disheartened! I have to keep in mind what has been done and what is important. I've got my gorgeous family and some lovely friends staying for the holidays, I'm sure we'll all survive and have a good laugh along the way. Stress is hardly going to make the holiday fun and memorable! But I thought, while I'm a bit laid up on the couch with DD2 asleep on my lap (we're both unwell), I could tap away and gather my thoughts for the onslaught that lies before me.

Christmas Eve dinner will be at my house with Russian friends. This means that I'll be providing the meat (goose and possibly turkey) and potatoes (roasted) and various trimmings that will be gotten ready while the kids attend a Christingle service. This Scandinavian tradition is based on the symbolism of an orange (the world), circled by red tape or string (Jesus' blood) with sweeties on toothpicks poked in around the circumference (the good things in life) while in the top a hole holds a candle (the light of God). All the children come to the altar and light their candles, then stand together to sing the final hymn. Of course, one year- just after the hymn- the lovely Catholic Father got up and was about to start his blessing (the Anglican and Catholic churches combine for this event) when a thick Irish brogue loudly interrupted with "Jeezus Christ!!" and a mum leaped up to put out her daughter's sweater which had accidentally been set on fire by her little brother. We all were shaking with laughter and poor Father had a very hard time finishing the benediction...

On Christmas day, I'll make stollen for breakfast- as my father always has done. Its a taste that, since we only have it at this time of year, reminds me of those snowy winters growing up, sitting around the big fireplace and my grandparents and opening our stockings. Really very Norman Rockwell! Of course, these days, I can buy stollen or a Bolo do Rei (the Portugese version which is baked with a bean inside for a wish and a small figurine for the king or queen of the day) from the shops, but the homemade ones are still the best. DD1 wants bacon and eggs as well, must remember...

Christmas morning back with my family would include a party at my Aunt's house complete with Bloody Marys and rummy eggnog. Followed by pretended sobriety with the other side of the family who are teetotal- occasionally a difficult feat as the Bloody Marys are particularly potent! Here, I plan to open a bottle of cremant for mimosas (aka Buck's Fizz). Then we'll head to the other side of town and celebrate in Texan style- I'm still waiting to hear what I should bring!

Boxing Day will bring our Bridget Jones Turkey Curry party and the real reason I want to have both turkey and goose. Then we can have goose biryani- recipe from Jamie Oliver's magazine this month- and turkey curry. We'll also have some cold sliced meat and paté, chutney and pickles, salads, trifle, cookies, and probably the infamous Moro bitter chocolate, coffee and cardamom mousse. Everyone is expected to wear the ugliest sweater they own- although one friend has asked if she can wear huge pants instead- and DH will be getting a rather good one from me for his Christmas present! Sadly, I'm too cheap to have bought the truly unbelievably ugly one available on ebay, but I got a retro reindeer one that he, hopefully, can wear for skiing as well.

We have a few days of respite after this, but then we will be having a small group of friends for our New Years Hogmanay party. The Scots do New Years right and so we'll give it a go as well- smoked salmon to start, haggis stuffed mushrooms with whisky cream sauce, rib roast with mushroom sauce, stovies, and we'll finish up with my best Clootie Dumpling- a dry fruit pudding mixed with plenty of single malt, boiled in a bag for four hours then dried in the oven. Served warm with pouring cream it is one of the best winter desserts you can have! And of course, the single malt will be liberally poured at the stroke of midnight as well.

So many things to be cooked- and eaten! I do feel proud that I made my Christmas cake at the end of November and we've been generously feeding it every few days- of course, it nearly fell off the top of the cupboard when I was getting down today, the outside has become a bit slippery. I'll hope to keep it intact, else it will become Christmas cake trifle!

When this feat of feasting is complete, I'll be just about ready to return to my less indulgent lifestyle- of course, with Three Kings Day, Burns Night, and Chinese New Year just around the corner, I'll have to have a hard think...

Happy holidays, whichever ones you celebrate!

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