Dec 19 2005
The lights are on. It’s nearly Christmas. Huge dazzling banners, twinkley fairy lights, glittering garlands, sparkling Christmas trees; they all light up the evening sky in every town, large or small. Late night shopping, free car parking, crowds, carousels, special Christmas markets, music on the streets, a Ferris wheel in Plymouth, good cheer everywhere, well mostly!
The shops are bedecked and bedazzled with every sort of gift imaginable. They bulge obscenely with plumb puddings and mince pies, turkeys and geese, pheasants and duck. Nuts and spices, crystallised fruit, dates and cakes, huge boxes of sweets, with every sort of Christmas decoration; baubles and fairies, tinsel and stars, garlands, crackers and garish wrapping paper. There are presents for Mum, Dad, Aunty, Gran, your brother, your sister, her friend, your boyfriend and toys, toys, toys for all those kids. I heard a lady in a big store, only last week, say to her friend “I’m getting that for Iris, whether she likes it or not…” Oh, the joy of Christmas Spirit, wonderful!
And, of course, there’s Father Christmas himself. There he is, old Saint Nick, working so hard, dashing from town to town, asking all the children what it is they specially want from him this year. He’s simply everywhere, frequently in more than one place at the same time! He’s all shapes and sizes but clad in that same red gown, big fat black belt, warm red hat and a big white cotton woolly beard. “Now what is it you would like this Christmas? Have you been very, very good…?” Parents listen anxiously. What should they buy their little treasure this year? Then “don’t forget, children, I’ll be coming down your chimney on December 24th. And please make sure you leave me a nice big brandy and a mince pie, oh, and don’t forget a sugar lump or two for Dasher, Dancer, Prancer and Vixen and Comet and Cupid and Donner and Blitzen …..” Parents pale at the thought of the house full of diminutive reindeer on top of everything else. But sometimes he just asks for a biscuit for little Rudolph, that small solitary Red Nosed one, a sigh of relief, no herd.
I know it’s all becoming outrageously commercial and sadly, often, pretty tacky, but oh, I can’t help loving it all! I love the sameness. The reassuringly familiar old shabby decorations for the Christmas tree, no black designer tree for me!! I love to see all the presents piled up on the floor beneath the tree. I love agonising over what to give everyone. I love wrapping parcels, racing to meet the last posting date, fretting about the correct way to parcel up gifts for Japan; each year brings a new twist to that one!
I love writing cards, planning menus, cooking for family and friends. I love eating all the traditional food, roast turkey, chestnut stuffing, bread sauce, cranberries, brussel sprout, roast potatoes. Then Christmas pudding fired with flaming brandy, mince pies, brandy butter, clotted cream. I love watching the children’s faces as they open their presents, I love going to Midnight Mass, singing all the same old, favourite carols. That’s the real reason for all these celebrations, remember! But, best of all, I love hearing from friends far away and having time to be with those I love.
This year we have sent our special friends our own Raining Sideways calendar for 2006. You can download it too. Have fun and a have a Very Happy, Happy Christmas. Thank you for taking a moment to share with me my diary of food and life on a very small Devon farm. I wish everyone a very, very Peaceful New Year.