Youngest came to me the day before Christmas Eve and stated decisively that she needed go to the crystal shop in a tone that allowed for no negotiation ... so we created a window among the mad rush of Christmas Eve cooking and sped down the road to our nearby village of Philadelphia, where present salvation is to be found in the form of a glittering treasure chest of semi-precious stones, crystals, pretty jewellery, clothes, enough to solve any gift dilemma, as long as you don’t have teenage boys on your list (she had made fudge for her brother so that was OK).
Getting our tree is a whole family affair. We usually bring it in on the Sunday before Christmas Day – the Saturday is taken up with our summer festival and my SIL works in the week and is an enthusiastic tree-chooser and cutter so it would be unthinkable to do it without her.
This year she was on leave so we suggested getting the tree the week before to have it in time for the festival, but with one thing and other it didn’t happen, so the tradition of the Sunday before Christmas held true (to Middle Daughter’s secret relief – a traditionalist at heart).
This year’s tree was the one SIL had picked out already, tall and elegant it only just passed the raised stick test for height (any taller than that and even our ceiling is challenged). Carried home in triumph and set up in a tub full of bricks, roped to the wall and adjusted for uprightness, then it is over to me for the putting on of lights. This brings out the most irritable side of me, so don’t get in my way when I’m unwinding strings of lights from their coat-hangers, clambering up ladders and teetering there with broom outstretched to get them perfectly wound around the topmost branches.
Middle daughter is looking poised to take over these duties any time I bow out and did a fine job with getting the tinsel up high, she and Youngest doing most of the putting up of decorations. Son put up those ornaments nominally his, and disappeared back to a gaming conversation with friends on his computer.
Apart from the brief foray to the crystal shop, Christmas Eve was spent in the kitchen, steaming up as the gammon simmered for slow hours, red onion marmalade for gifts cooked down, and building up the stripes of different colours in the jam-jar jellies, to the sound-track of Christmas carols and the despairing cries of kids trying to finish off and wrap their presents. By 4.30 when I had to ferry the girls down to take part in the Christmas play at Camphill, I hadn’t wrapped a single present, but other than that everything was ready.
Almost time to relax.
The play over, girls exchanged their gifts with their friends, and then had to be torn away from them and back to a quick supper and family Christmas carols, when we always have to sing our way through the entire book of carols. This left all the wrapping to be done from 9pm onwards, including Father Christmas’ wrapping (he needs so much help these days), so it was after 11 before the kids were quiet enough for us to at least pretend they were asleep and stuff their stockings, which they still insist on hanging at the end of their beds. And then collapse on the sofa in a daze of tinsel and sellotape.
|The view from the sofa at almost midnight|
Then the day dawns early, and stockings are opened, attended by Bracken and including a flurry of messaging with friends... now we know we have teenagers.
It turns out to be one of those precious cool Christmas Days, overcast with occasional showers of fine rain, this is a good thing in the middle of a hot dry South African summer, meaning we don’t have to do any watering, and that we can have the children’s favourite roast potatoes and veggies to accompany the turkey and gammon, instead of boring old salads.
|My mother and the girls on Christmas morning, and George smiling too!|
And this year our lunch went smoothly, without last year’s drama of fire fighting, only enlivened by the sighting of a large cobra beside the bunny cage, which sent the snake catchers out in force just before the food was on the table. The snake went off and hid, was sighted again on Boxing Day and we’re still checking the bunnies regularly to make sure there are two of them.
Crackers, too much pudding, a rustle of wrapping paper, movies and finding room for Christmas cake at supper time, family Christmasses at home are a treasured part of our family recipe book.
Happy Christmas, Everyone! (especially Marcheline, who I know is reading, because she comments even if I haven't posted anything, just to keep me on my blogging toes :) )
Wishing you all a wonderful year ahead full of much joy, love and laughter.