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Sunday, January 9, 2011


Waking up at mum's Christmas morning means three things are inevitable. Firstly, I have to eat breakfast. Mum is, and always has been, a three meal a day person and, although I am very much in favour of breakfast, lunch and dinner, I do tend to skip the first meal of the day if I have a larger dinner to prepare. Mum would have made a great Army wife, or better still, Captain! She runs her house with such military precision and in her 80th year, this is rather impressive, although she argues that she has become rather lax over the years. Dinner is sometimes at 6.30, rather than 6! I should be so lax!

After breakfast, my job is to dust and vacuum the lounge and hall, then on to the kitchen where any stray crumbs from breakfast is sucked up the tube into the hoover bag.

The third inevitability is the peeling of pounds of potatoes. Not sure of how many people I am peeling for, and equally unsure of who is on a diet or not in a 'starchy mood', I still have to count six pieces per every possible person, and then some.

Once these three tasks have been completed, we can take a short break for coffee. I very rarely turn down a cup of coffee mid morning, but with breakfast not yet a distant memory and lunch looming, a traditional Christmas delicacy in any shape or form, was already starting to lose its appeal. Mum, however, had bought several varieties of scrumptiousness not available in the USA. I resigned myself to the fact that saying no was not going to be easy.

Lunch was prepared, eaten and cleared away and for the second time in a month, I had demolished twice my body weight in Turkey and trimmings, and this time it was topped with Christmas Pudding and sauces, butters and creams all laced with brandy. I could hear my jeans laughing from the bedroom, believing they were going to have respite for the foreseeable future. My phone was already searching yellow pages for the weight watchers page.

After lunch, the lounge transformed into a department store with all sections covered; household, perfumery, books, cosmetics, toys (never too old for lego, Richard received a lego-man ice mould), electronics, clothes and of course the Victoria Secret corner. After another cup of coffee, and a variety of sweets and chocolates to be consumed in case we had not had our fill, and the offer of tangerines, should we feel the need to absolve ourselves with a tad of healthy eating, it was time for our constitutional around the block. Elise, her partner David and I, normally wrap up in coats, hats, gloves and boots to take a stroll. This year, it was more of a challenge than usual. The road was very icy, and we had barely gone 10 feet before we started to slip and slide across the glassy surface. In an effort to stay upright, we held on to each other. Hands up those who have never held on to another person when slipping over, knowing that if you go down, they go down too, yet not thinking quickly enough not to grab the arm of whoever is near. Exactly! Once again, my pink boots proved to be an excellent choice of footwear and eventually we hit a part of the road that was less treacherous and continued on our way.

No time at all seemed to pass before we were setting the table for supper. Were we hungry? I doubt it. Did we eat? Naturally.

Once again, another Christmas day had come and gone, the soap operas had tried to outdo each other with the most outrageous stories and live turkeys everywhere, breathed a sigh of relief. If I wasn't quite so jet lagged, I probably would have fallen asleep instantly at bedtime, but I spoke to Dana who was debating where to eat supper, and completed a couple of sudoku puzzles before eventually deciding to turn out the light.

The day after Christmas has become 'in law' day. For the past few years I have been fortunate enough to have been invited to spend the afternoon and evening, normally spreading into the early hours of the following morning, with my in laws, or 'ex' in-laws to be precise. Last year, and this, I have also been invited to Steff's grandparents.

Breakfast with mum was at around 7.45am, and the vacuuming took longer than usual, due to the dining table having been frequented twice yesterday. Not particularly hungry and in desperate need of an appetite, I walked around to the local shops to buy some flowers for my first hostess. Booted again in my pink gums, I braved the ice and slid ungracefully along the pavement where several father's were relieving mother's of the joy of their children, perhaps in the hope that exercise would wear them out. Posies bought I slid back to mum's and was in the process of changing into something more suitable for visiting others, when Ricky called to say he was moments away. Saved from more mince pies with more coffee, I sighed with relief.

Our first stop was Grandma and after a few greetings to new and old faces, it was time to eat. Was I hungry? No. Did I eat? Naturally. In fact, I ate more than I should as my hostess insisted I sit next to her for a chat, and not wishing to appear rude, I accepted seconds of her delicious vegetables that are home grown and prepared in interesting and unusual ways. I wasn't able to resist dessert.

Once on the road again, I was navigator. When I lived in England, the trip to Rose was relatively easy. I knew the cities, followed the signs, drove through the airport and voila! A few years ago the road through the airport was altered and no one thinks to check the route before starting out. The sat-nav sits in the glove compartment until the last minute, as the lady giving instructions insists on using the motorway, and constantly advises us to 'turn around'. To avoid arguments (I seem to spend most of my time arguing with machines) she is not invited to give an opinion until we are totally lost and avoiding planes on the runway! The annual, 'we are lost' phone call was answered with the words, 'wow you have made it further than we thought you would before phoning', and we entered the post code into our talking guide, who took us to our destination without once telling us to make a u-turn.

To my delight, along with my other brother-in law, his wife and son, were two of the Stortford gun slingers who visited us in March. Katie and Phil were visiting and the whole episode of the gun range was revisited, with much relish, laughter and dropped jaws.

Tea and cake should have been directly applied to my hips as that was going to be their final resting place, but I decided my taste buds were in need of more variety. Presents were once again exchanged and, I think. I bought the right size for my nephew. Stalking his facebook page finally paid off or at least appeared to as the polo shirts did not seem to be two sizes too big. Rose and Robin gave me the best present possible when they announced they read my blog and quoted from one in particular. I also received a cute teapot (as last time I was on the phone to Rose I managed to break my ornamental teapot, and she made a rather astute mental note) and some marmite chocolate. Yes, marmite chocolate, yet to be tasted but no doubt, as the packet says, 'interesting'. I will advise on the outcome. When the mouthwatering buffet was uncovered, I was the first to the table. With all the additional guests, I was politely told that perhaps family should hold back, at which point I told my nephew, I was no longer family, therefore, I was entitled to first pick. Unable to come back with a usual quick quip, I was handed a plate and given the go ahead. Was I hungry?...... etc etc etc.

All too soon the evening came to an end and we left shortly after midnight and without the need for our motorway hugging electronic female, we travelled for an hour to familiar territory and I went to bed quite exhausted and a good few pounds heavier. After a quick chat to my abandoned husband, I fell asleep.

With another week of holiday still ahead of me, I wondered if I would need to eat before boarding the plane. Monday morning was the start of the sales. Now that is....another story.

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