I have intermittently been watching Phil and Kirstie's Perfect Christmas programme in an aimless, talking wallpaper sort of a way, not because I am likely to do any of it but more because I like both of them and love the enthusiasm with which Kirstie embraces homemade things and the whole idea of making an effort rather than waving a credit card. It did however occur to me last night that this Christmas thing was not theoretical but really was going to happen and in fact is approaching at a rate of knots. Somehow in the last couple of months of hospital visiting and the last week or so of preparation for my FIL (now safely installed just before the snow came) I have not been making home crafted Christmas presents and individual paper snowflake decorations. So I thought I had better take my head out of the sand and do a quick stock take on where we are for Christmas.
Let's start with the most important thing in our house: food.
The Christmas cake is made, made in early November as a therapeutic exercise one long day. It hasn't been fed as often as usual with brandy but it should still be a good one. There is still the marzipan to be made and the icing to do. I used to think that I didn't like marzipan but I discover that I love home made marzipan with its tang of lemon and making marzipan is really easy to do. So that needs to go on the list.
I haven't made a Christmas pudding this year, for the first time in ages, so that is another thing to buy.
The turkey is sorted. My friend who first helped me when I started keeping hens always raises a few turkeys for Christmas. Usually they are all spoken for by October but this year, joy of joys, there is one with my name on it. You couldn't get a better provenance. I know these turkeys have been lovingly raised, have roamed free range amongst her fruit trees and have been fed organically. I even know that there were a real pain to put away at night. Instead of trooping off into their house at night the way hens do, the turkeys were keen to roost in a tree or at a pich in a row across the top of the house and every night, with much muttering of "Get in there, you stupid things. Have you never heard of foxes?", had to be herded into their house. I suspect this turkey might be bigger than we would normally buy but I couldn't turn down the chance. What do you think you would pay for a bird with that provenance in London?
My order for other meat is all sorted too, left on the counter at our local butcher yesterday. So that will produce the sausagemeat for stuffing, the pigs in blankets, a leg of lamb for Christmas Eve and some local cheeses. By Monday I need to order the vegetables that we have not produced ourselves from the village shop.
Presents: most of it done on the internet. There is one parcel which has not yet arrived. I hate this: check the website, supposedly dispatched, not here, sitting somewhere in warehouse I suppose. At what point do I give up and go out and buy all over again? Wrapping too is one of my least favourite things, partly because I am not good at it. This year I am trying a new approach of wrapping a few at a time. Normally I leave all the wrapping to Christmas Eve and spend a couple of hours, glass in hand, producing more and more randomly shaped dog's breakfasts. I have very mixed feelings about beautifully wrapped parcels. Part of me admires the time and thought which has gone into a fabulous parcel as well as the beauty of the result. The other part of me can't quite be bothered with something so ephemeral that will be torn off and in the bin in minutes! It's also hard to be green about wrapping without reusing last year's crumpled stuff and looking like a miser.
The house remains resolutely undecorated. That is not something with its roots in what has been happening this year. We are not big on decorating the house and don't usually bring the tree in until Christmas Eve. This year we have a tiny Christmas tree which is growing in our field which will be put in a pot and will take its place by the fire for a few days before going back out again. I am really pleased about this. I love a real tree but I hate the waste of all those trees being chopped down and going outside again, brown and needleless, before going off to the tip. This way, tiny though it will be, it will a living tree which will carry on living, all being well! On Christmas Eve I will also bring in some holly and ivy to hang above the pictures and mirrors, and that will be that. There are candles. There is wine. There will be visits from children and from older grandson on Boxing Day. FIL needs quite a bit of help but is settling in, finding his way around, both literally and figuratively finding his feet and looking forward to seeing his grandchildren and great grandchildren.
Yes, I think we can say we are almost ready for Christmas.