Christmas is very much on my mind just lately and there’s still six weeks to go. I’ve been conscripted to help out with the nursery Winter Fayre (post to follow), my refusal to participate in the behind-the-scenes activities at the nursery Nativity have been wholeheartedly ignored and David has already started looking for his present. And I haven’t got a clue what to buy him this year.
Still. The cake is looking (and smelling) heavenly. I have to resist the urge to have a sneaky peak (and sniff) every time I go into the utility room. David has now taken to hiding his brandy and has promised to buy me a “cheap one to pour into the cake”. Honestly, it’s one tablespoon twice a week, I’m not emptying the bottle into a funnel in the side. Mind you, the brandy is almost as old as I am so I can understand his reticence. I don’t like the sound of “cheap brandy” though.
The list for Christmas dinner is growing almost daily. Janey had promised that she would cook her first ever Christmas dinner for her, Darren, Ivy and Jim. Darren’s parents are “going a'Spain” for the festive season. But she’s hit a problem. Her pregnancy has reached the stage where the mere thought of cooking with raw ingredients makes her want to vomit – “I’m pretty sure I’ll still feel like this on Christmas Day” she whined down the phone to me yesterday. I understand how she feels – for two months I couldn’t look or touch anything raw. The thought of touching a raw chicken literally made me stick my head down the toilet. I noted the barely hidden plea in her whine and mentally made two more spaces at the (small) dining table. I then added another two after Janey informed me that Ivy had been thrown in a panic at Janey’s inability to now feed her on Christmas Day and that she screeched “I haven’t got time to get everything ready now for you to come here and your father has already said we’re not getting a tree this year.” If Ivy cooks the Christmas Day meal she starts her preparations in mid October and decorates the house to look like Santa’s grotto.
If I’m neurotic it’s because it’s hereditary.
I rang David. “We need another table and chairs” I informed him the minute I heard his dulcet tones. “Why darling?” said he, no doubt envisaging the total collapse of our current one. “We’ve got 15 people coming for dinner on Christmas Day and our table only seats 6” I continued. Silence at the other end. “Erm, 16 for dinner” he amended. “I’ve just got off the phone from Ginny who feels that faced with a choice of spending Christmas with mother or the Colonel, she’d rather face mother.”
So that’s two additional tables needed then. IKEA beckons.
The turkey has got to feed 16 people on Christmas Day and roughly the same amount of people (albeit in smaller portions) for Boxing Day and if I’m going to attempt to make my mum’s famous soup I need at least a couple of slices. I then did something that I never thought I’d do.
I rang Amelia.
After the usual niceties (I do try, honest) I asked her how big the turkey Giles has reserved for me will be when, gulp, its time comes to die. “About 15 pounds Giles reckons” she said, chewing on a Danish pastry. I told her my predicament and, to my relief, she started panicking almost as much as I was at that present time. “All recipes call for about a pound or a pound and a half of turkey per person so you’re looking at a 16 pounder at least. And that’s if you plan to be stingy.” Her tone suggested that I would indeed be stingy with the fowl. After a discussion about whether to abandon the reserved bird (it’s got my name on a tag round its neck) and get a bigger one or to reserve another similarly sized bird, Amelia promised to ring Giles and panic buy another one. Two turkeys with my name on them. Great. She sounded so inordinately pleased and amazed that I’d rung her for advice that I thawed everso slightly and asked her over the first weekend in December thus securing Amelia-free weekends for the rest of November.
Jack Next Door has taken to popping over to see me daily since his dalliance on our sofa with Amelia a couple of weekends ago. I feel slightly uncomfortable that he’s got the “hots” for my mother-in-law and try to stick to safe subjects. Like soil erosion and wilting perennials. Not that I know anything about that but, quite frankly, it’s any port in a storm.
The discussions yesterday and today (he came round to watch Jeremy Kyle with me yesterday and today popped in with an Ayres jam doughnut) centred around the lack of tables and chairs and our impending trip to IKEA. He’s offered to bring his “laminated oak and four chairs” with him……”I’ve also got two stools if you need them?” which will make a nice change from crystallised orange slices and a poinsettia.