Last night at Slimming World we were talking about the pitfalls of Christmas, shopping, scrumptious food, families and of course the dreaded weight gains.
I was amused that everyone anticipated putting on at least half a stone over the holidays (we don’t get a week off as we are having our meeting on Wednesday rather than Tuesday) and our leader didn’t bat an eye.
Gravy had a lot of ‘air time’ and how many syns it would contain if made with the juices from the meat. SW have their own which is syn free and very nice by all accounts. I make mine with the vegetable water, a little cornflour and a stock cube, so only about half a syn anyway.
Someone mentioned having all their presents wrapped and ready, someone else hadn’t even started, and someone’s sister bought all her presents in the sales on Boxing Day the previous year, wrapped them up, and put them in the roof.
I didn’t own up to having posted all my cards on the 1st, but it did get me thinking about my preparations in years gone by.
In all honesty, I don’t remember much of the Christmases with my first husband, except the last after we’d separated and I left him a Christmas Pudding (my first and only attempt). Sounds weird doesn’t it.
When I moved in with Partner, I looked forward to family Christmases as I’d had as a child, but it was difficult with the ex wife, ex in-laws, and divorced and remarried grandparents putting in their five eggs worth.
I remember our first New Year together being invited to a family (his) party, the alcohol freely flowing, and then freely flowing for another reason and from a different direction.
I should have quit there and then, but having a stubborn streak, I didn’t want to go home with my tail between my legs to face the ‘I told you so’ from Sis who had only given our relationship six months. It actually lasted 8 years.
My Christmas shopping would start around August, spreading the cost by buying things that weren’t perishable and didn’t cost the earth as they would in December.
I bought for everyone in my family, nieces, nephews, plus the aunts, uncles and cousins we’d see over the festive season. I’d wrap and label them accordingly, knowing that by the time Christmas Day came along, I would probably have forgotten what I’d bought and for whom, so it would be a surprise for me too.
I’d make my cake in September, dose it up with brandy (hidden) every fortnight and marzipan it in the first week of December ready for icing Christmas week.
Like custard, I can’t make royal icing for toffee, so it was the ready roll paste and a couple of plastic trees, a Santa, reindeer and Merry Christmas on top for decoration.
Christmas cards I would have purchased the year before, bumper boxes of 50 plus for about a pound then, and I’d post them the second week of December.
Christmas Dinner was an epic event, being expected to entertain Mother and Step Father who then announced they had invited her sister and her husband to ours for their tea.
A mountain of spuds, brussel sprouts, carrots, parsnips, pigs in blankets, stuffing etc would have been prepared the night before, and the turkey cooking through the night to leave my oven free in the day for everything else. I’d also have a gammon and beef joint cooked the evening before so that I just had to tinfoil slices and put them in the bottom of the oven to warm through.
I was queen of the two burners then, as only two worked on his cooker, but I managed.
As if that wasn’t bad enough, Partner disappeared up to the pub to meet up with Father and Step Mother, who thankfully did not want to come to us for dinner. He staggered home for 2pm dinner, when I had everything ready for 1 o’clock.
The boys’ Mum always insisted on seeing them Christmas Day, so that meant I had to drive them there as everyone in the family was too sloshed to do it.
In later years, I cooked for as many as 15 people on Christmas Day. This included my triumph in inviting the boys’ Mum and her fiance to Christmas Dinner so that they could take them back with them afterwards, leaving me to have a little tipple with my dinner.
One year I forgot the cranberry sauce, and Partner made such a fuss! It was even more pathetic as he didn’t even like it, preferring french mustard, horseradish and mint sauce which were all on the table.
As always, there was plenty to eat and drink, full bellies, fragrant farts, loads of washing up and no help whatsoever in the kitchen.
Some Christmases were a disappointment, like the one we were going to spend with my family. He arrived home drunk Christmas Eve, so I had to drive down. He threw up in the middle of the road en route, and twice in bushes in my parents front garden. On Christmas morning he announced that we would have to leave after lunch as he had to drop the boys off to their mother, then moaned during the meal as he couldn’t go to the pub and had to make do with a glass (or 4) of my Dad’s wine, which was damn heady stuff!
Another was expensive for me and extremely hurtful.
He’d asked for a heavy-duty gold neck chain and if he’d wanted a St Christopher or crucifix, I could have got one for half the price. As it was I spent a week’s wages on one only for me
a) not to see him open it.
b) had to ask if he’d had it.
c) had to ask if he liked it.
d) could forget the thanks for getting it.
His comment was
‘It’s OK I suppose. You can get me the cross to go on it for my birthday.’
He didn’t get it by the way.
I left in 1989.