Well, it all seems like ice ages ago now, doesn't it, that whirlwind of activities and "I musn't forgets" that heralds Christmas each year for so many people? How did your festive season go? As a child growing up in rural Ireland I was often struck by grown-ups asking each other "how did ye get over the Christmas?" I used to wonder what they meant. Now I begin to see that we have made the Christmas season into a marathon to be run according to the laws of advertising.
Yes, I'm on my little soap box, here. As I was travelling around Christmas time which involved sitting in airport lounges waiting for flights etc., I read a lot of magazines and newspapers centred around the festive theme. Almost without exception they gave advice on how not to get too stressed out, on how to cope, on what to buy and what not to buy as Christmas presents, how to cook the turkey. The lists went on and on. It sounded more like advice for troops going into battle. The joy of a family holiday, of a get-together, seemed to me to have been totally lost. I found myself wondering not for the first time, why we have to go to all this trouble, including in many cases a visit to a church service when we are not church goers - one mother who did this told me her child kept asking when Christmas was going to start and she herself was appalled that the service lasted an hour!
I love cooking although I am not good at traditional dishes. Does it matter? If people want to sit around my table then they should expect a delicious meal (no - not turkey!) which I have cooked without getting a nervous breakdown over it. I should be happy and relaxed to see my guests, knowing I had done all I could to make them welcome and provide them with a nice meal. And I want to see them enjoying themselves and I want to enjoy myself without wondering if the table decorations are up to scratch. Conversation and laughter should be the order of the day. Is more than that required, and if so, why?
A trip to McDonalds or SuperMacs or a good old-fashioned Chinese takeaway and a good chat around the table is surely preferable to all that glitzy complicated stuff I read about in those magazines.
OK, I've got that off my chest. To all my readers: A VERY HAPPY NEW YEAR!