I managed to hold onto the feeling that matters festive were completely under control until the 19th this year – rather a triumph! In the days running up to the Great Christmas Party on the 17th there was much cake icing and canapé making (making canapés that is, the cake is sacrosanct) is the very business for using up all the odds and ends in your fridge. The dregs of a jar of kale pesto and some elderly feta cheese made excellent spanakopita. I must have made a gazillion mince pies and miniature cherry bakewells. Every time I closed the tin and declared my work done, some bugger wandered through the kitchen and snarfed a few which then fell to be replaced. We were so excited and relieved to see the fuel oil man he left with a few as well. On the eve itself I built up biceps of steel making pizza dough for 20 pizzas. Then there was the wrapping for all the gifts for various friends to take away. The clashing aromas of pot pourri and various experimental soaps had me sneezing along to the Christmas song tape. However, we pulled it off and in an uncharacteristic feat for team Fountain we were actually ready and not still in the bath when the guests arrived. There was a committed show of festive jollity by all, as evidenced by the empties next day!
Next day Lachlan, Mum, Lyra and I blew away the hangovers with some snowy walks and a very chilly plod on the beach. Keith went off to do all of his Christmas shopping (as ever in the Eco Store in Berwick has proved a veritable treasure trove..). The plan for the next few days was that mum would go home, finish her wrapping and do her Selkirk deliveries and I would retreat to the garret, finish all the Christmas jumpers and sewing projects and we would pick her up again on the 23rd. Reader, it was not to be. Niagara Falls had relocated to 29 Forest Road’s kitchen courtesy of a burst pipe in a secret location somewhere in the wall. We scurried around getting thoroughly drookit moving anything that might suffer out of the way and making impromptu sand bags out of towels to keep the flood from spreading. Keith manned the phones from Ruthven mission control (basically Tracey Island with an extra turret) and eventually found a plumber to come and switch the water off. Santa Granny’s grotto was packed up (the Mini proved capable of holding a surprisingly vast number of bags of Christmas presents, wrapping paper and essential “bits and bobs”) and pausing only, rather ironically I feel, to water the houseplants, we squelched back to the car and returned to base. (Mum has since proved so useful as general plongeur/sous chef, wrapping elf and sanity restorer we are not sure how we would have managed without her anyway).
Several days of frantic knitting, sewing and wrapping followed. We even managed a quick trip back to Selkirk to deliver some presents and see the Aunties (and water the houseplants which were, spitefully, still a bit too dry). Then I realised that the extra day in hand I thought I had had actually expired a couple of days before and normal Christmas fervour resumed. Today the last Christmas jumper (apart from Monkey’s which is tonight’s treat) was sewn up in triumph and cooking proper began. Unfortunately Keith also decided to do a little cooking so we had to share the kitchen (cue music from Psycho). I was banished to a corner of the table whilst the maestro made his signature pork pies on the island. There was a lot of sighing and some moderate gesticulating, but nothing was thrown and I do feel we may have “grown and matured”. The pie results proved (to everyone’s great relief) rather excellent. In the meantime, in my humble corner I made a vat of lentil soup, ham hock terrine, two types of stuffing, herbed butter and prepped and marinaded the meat for game pies tomorrow. In a novel twist on the usual tradition of placing silver thruppenies in the pudding, it seems that a couple of small diamonds from my eternity ring are in the orange, sage and walnut stuffing. Ah well.