That title sounds kind of grumpy, doesn’t it? “Not a Christmas post.” I might as well add “Bah Humbug.” Which is weird because I love Christmas. I always have. So I guess this IS a Christmas post, in a way.
I mean, I love so many things about Christmas. I love getting the tree. And trimming the tree. Old family ornaments, family traditions, and funny family Christmas stories. Like the one where we had a tree that Lloyd stored in the barn and it froze so the ends of the branches curled up like arthritic fingers. And Mum named the tree Arthur. As in arthur-itis… get it? I love the traditions Hubby and I have made since we’ve been together. Some of which we borrowed from home, like naming our tree.
I love the food and the crackling fires. I love Christmas music. Most of it. And Christmas shopping downtown. Not in a mall, but on a street where you have to go outside to move from one store to the other, and get properly cold doing it. And there are community decorations strung along the streets, and a Salvation Army person with their red kettle on the corner. I always sing “Silver Bells” in my head when I’m Christmas shopping downtown. You know the song…”on every street corner you hear…silver bells…silver bells. It’s Christmas time in the city.”
I love all the sappy Christmas movies. Okay, not all of them. Mostly the old ones. Certainly not the newest ones that have been relentlessly advertised on television. You know the movies I mean. The ones with bad writing, bad acting, cliché storylines, and the female actors all done up in maximum lipgloss, and cute furry boots. All about that special guy finding that special girl, right at Christmas. I hate those ones. Except for Love, Actually. And Affair to Remember. And Miracle on 34th Street. Which come to think about it, among other things, are all about finding love, right at Christmas. And considering that Hubby and I had our first date on December 20, I guess I don’t know what I mean. Ha.
So I think we’ve established that I love Christmas. Mostly.
But I don’t love all the pressure to buy, buy, buy. To find the perfect gift. Make the perfect meal. Set the perfect table. I am tired of all the gift guide posts, blogs and Instagram posts and YouTube videos with gift ideas. I’ve even unsubscribed from a couple of YouTube channels because of the plethora of gift guide videos and advice for six different festive outfits for Christmas at home. One person posed in a festive dressed-down-stay-at-home outfit with a coordinating purse. Now who carries a purse in their own house except for the Queen?
Of course I don’t hate the vlogs and posts that say “this is what I’m actually wearing this Christmas.” But this year, of all years, I wish people would try to keep it real. One vlogger endeared herself to me because she actually went on a bit of a rant about too much Christmas everywhere. And how she struggled with Christmas, and knew that others probably did too.
I am sick of all the perfect Christmas decor photos. Except the ones in old English country houses, with big hearths, real fir boughs and holly, and shabby chic interiors. Perfectly themed, matchy-matchy Christmas decorating in this year’s popular colour is an anathema to me. My favorite shot of a Christmas tree so far this year is one my friend Jeannie posted on Facebook of her daughter’s Christmas tree, complete with unbreakable ornaments, and the cat peeking out from the boughs at the back. Hence the unbreakable ornaments. Ha.
Anyway, enough ranting. Bah humbug to all that Christmas hysteria, and the push to be perfect in every way. I’m too old for that perfection thing.
So to that end I decided that this year would be the year that I stopped being intimidated by the idea of making Mum’s famous Christmas cake. I think I’ve mentioned before that my mum is a wonderful cook. And she excelled at Christmas baking, was in fact famous for it in our family and in the wider neighbourhood. Particularly for her fruitcake.
She sent me the baking pan I would need and her recipe years ago, but I never made the darned cake. I guess I couldn’t imagine making a Christmas cake that was as perfectly moist, and rich, and delicious as Mum’s. And so I never tried. Until today.
Today I was not to be deterred by fear of failure. Besides, if it turns out terrible, Hubby will eat anything. And like Mum said on the phone when I called for a mid-mixing consultation today, if it turns out dry or not that pretty, just warm it up, drown it in sauce and pretend it’s Christmas pudding.
So I guess we’ve established that I love Christmas. Mostly. Not the saccharine, teeth-grindingly cliché Christmas often seen on television and in social media. But a down-home, perfectly imperfect Christmas. With a turkey that may be a tad overcooked, a house that will never be featured in House Beautiful, but which has colour, a few old but well-loved decorations that suit us, and a small tree named Arthur or Lucy or Boris. We haven’t decided on the tree name yet.
Oh, and a lopsided Christmas cake that looks a bit funny, but tastes great. I know this because after dinner Hubby and I cut a tiny corner of the cooling cake… just to test it, of course. Mmmmm. And then we had a tiny piece of the other three corners. Just to even them up.
I guess I should have said that this is not a Christmas post, as much as it is a Christmas cake post.
P.S. More on the Christmas cake baking adventure and my consultation with Mum in my December vlog.
P.P.S. Have a great rest of the week, my friends. And don’t let the Christmas hysteria find you. Hide under the bed if you have to. Or disappear into your book.