Where does one start? Well, the obvious answer is at the beginning!
This takes us all the way to the end of September as the baking of the Christmas cakes commences. As incredulous as it sounds, that is the time you are supposed to start baking them for the flavors to fully develop and blend by Christmas time.
This is when I know that summer has indeed come to an end. Before I know it, the Christmas season of mad shopping, decorating, and inviting all of one’s relatives for Christmas Eve is upon us.
By the time December arrives, my mother sends over batches of delicious mince pies; crumbly and yummy, ready to be eaten with a delicious cup of tea on a wet winter afternoon. She has probably already baked her Christmas pudding, made her Christmas cakes, and painted beautiful Christmas cards to send out to family and friends.
My husband can never understand our English obsession with just the right cup of tea or the giving of seasonal cards whether it is Christmas or not!
The tree is trimmed by end of November and everyone is invited to join while we scramble and fight over what should go where and how. It starts to really feel like Christmas with carols blaring from the radio, grandparents traipsing in, and my children’s friends coming over to unravel meters of Christmas lights, which invariably need replacing. It takes quite a few days to get all of this done. Much to my children’s dismay, my perfectionist trait kicks in as I quietly re-arrange their messy decorations on the Christmas tree. Last but not least, the mistletoe is bought and carefully lowered over the main doorway inviting lovers, friends and family for a quick kiss.
On Christmas Eve the entire extended family comes to our house as we enjoy each other’s company with loud music and good food. The children run around the house in an excited frenzy, playing games, laughing, and wreaking havoc while the adults dance, drink wine, and enjoy each other’s company.
At twelve, whoever is still awake joins for midnight Mass.
On Christmas Day, my children and husband enjoy a quiet morning as we have breakfast and exchange gifts.
Then, we meet up at my parent’s house with my siblings and their families.
The children eagerly await the opening of all the gifts along with my mother’s delicious turkey with all the trimmings – cranberry sauce, hot gravy, and sausages wrapped in bacon- of which there never is enough.
Finally, the “piece de resistance;” the Christmas pudding is lit with brandy and eaten with white sauce. The
Christmas craze has finally come to an end, and we all eventually head home reluctantly to rest after the exhausting preparations and celebrations.
The next day is Boxing Day, a tradition in the UK where everyone boxes up all his or her leftovers and excess gifts to give to the less fortunate.
That’s the cue that it is indeed all over, when all that is left of the wonderful Christmas season is the tree, which we cling to until it has to come down in mid January to be put away till the next mad Christmas