Best Christmas Ever!

Best Christmas Ever!


bestxmasI’ve seen so many magazine articles in recent weeks promising the best ever Christmas….if I buy this or follow this step by step plan or do it the Delia way, I’ll have the best Christmas ever. Debenhams are advertising Christmas as designed by Debenhams…that’s getting close to blasphemous.

I want to charge into the highly commercialised middle of it all and ask ‘Best ever according to whom exactly?’

I remember one year doing it the Delia way. I’d decided I’d do the whole shebang. Full traditional Christmas dinner with knobs on. This was going to mean bringing a total of 10 things to the table at the same time all cooked and hot just for the main course alone, which was double my previous record of 5. I was too scared to add in starters and pudding. Some advice was needed and Delia and Good Housekeeping magazine were surely better qualified than anyone for the job.

I read through her carefully timetabled Christmas day plan some weeks ahead feeling relaxed and confident that Delia wouldn’t steer me wrong and even if it did mean turning up in the kitchen at the crack of dawn with my Christmas outfit and lippy already on (as there’s no time for bathing and preening in this schedule), I was still looking forward to it.

It wasn’t long before I realised I was going to need Gordon Ramsay’s veg peeling and chopping speeds to keep up with the schedule and by the time the 5 minutes allocated for ‘sipping a glass of sherry and opening presents with the family’ arrived I was seriously stressed, more than a couple of hours behind schedule and giving estimates of 8pm for eating lunch.

Safe to say, the Delia year doesn’t go down as my best ever.

It’s taken me many years to shake off the media version, or indeed anyone else’s version, of what a good Christmas looks like.

It’s been the most sagely of gentlemen, Thomas Moore, that has been my saviour. He doesn’t do Christmas catering schedules but he did say this which I’ve been finding most wise council for pretty much anything, Christmas included.

“We have to decide for ourselves what’s nourishing to our souls, and do those things over others”.

Oh now! What do you think? Do we like Thomas? Oh we do, we do! I know he wasn’t talking about Christmas specifically but I think it applies very well don’t you?

With fresh eyes, am I, to Christmas delivered! (in sagely style you pronounce that last word deliver-red).

If you were to cast your eye over your Christmas, or prospective Christmas to be, to what extent do you find are you doing things that are nourishing to your soul?

I have already had my own, best ever Christmas, crafted to perfection from the things that were truly be nourishing to my soul that year.

That particular Christmas I had only myself to think of. My son was with his Dad and both my parents departed. My everyday life was filled in the daytimes with work and lots of people, followed by cooking quickly and clearing up before helping my wee man with any homework and then straight onto bath time and bedtime stories before getting back to housework, paying bills and then preparing for work the next day again.

When I thought about what I’d really like, I realised I’d be happy staying at home by myself, in my PJ’s all day eating mashed potato. I knew that a must was to have no rushing at all, really nice food, but little or no cooking, time to savour everything and quiet and stillness in abundance.

It was pure peace, full of savoured moments, with absolutely no stress whatsoever. It was bliss and it went like this……….

I had one very dear and lovely friend over to stay for a couple of days. No crowds, no constant jabber and endless rounds of cooking, feeding, clearing up just in time to start again.

We got up when we woke naturally, no alarm, no turkey deadlines to meet, just allowing ourselves to sleep till we’d had all the sleep we needed.

Dressing gowns on, we got the fire going and got all cosy in the living room, and brought in the present opening refreshments…champagne and proper Scottish smoked salmon.

Present opening was luxurious. One at a time, taking turns, we opened, admired, played with, listened to, drew a big deep breath of, sampled and fully appreciated each present.

I had no idea what time it was and no need of knowing.

More luxury Moddom? Oh yes please. Sinking into a divine smelling bath, big deep breaths of Caleche (my favourite perfume by Hermes), slathering on equally divine body lotion and feeling just gorgeous.

We were ready for some fresh air by then and to stretch our legs. Lovely crisp air with some wonderful warm soft powdery Caleche wafts. Meanwhile, the best sausages in the world tended to themselves in the oven.

We brought our glowing cheeks, stretched legs and nicely developing appetites back for sausages and mash followed by mince pies and brandy butter. Just delicious. Not so much food we couldn’t walk and barely any clearing up to do. A bit of a curl up on the sofa with some port and cheese much later. Peace, ease and luxury!

It stands unbeaten as my best Christmas ever for doing just what I needed at the time. Let’s hear it for, at the very least, low stress and better still soulful Christmases.

Sculpt and craft your own best ever, no-one’s version but your own.

Would you like lots of people around, a few, one, none?

Would you like to be quiet, raucous, still, playing games, dancing?

At home, in the Alps, on the beach, at Grandmas?

Will you travel far and wide, some, none, in style, in a plane, train, car, on a sledge?

Are you feasting big-time, your table groaning under the weight of many, many platters, or dream of just a sliver of truffle on your handmade papardelle and the best Chablis you can lay your hands on?

Want to go and sing your little heart out at midnight mass?

Present opening in bed?

Want to wait till everyone’s arrived and then decorate the tree together like you did when you were tiny?

Or does none of it matter a bit, so long as you get to sit in front of a real fire talking for an hour or so with your old Dad?

How close is the actual Christmas you’ve got coming up, to your ideal, soul nourishing one?

Are you doing things because you’re telling yourself you have to, out of duty but grudgingly?

A grudging Christmas? Hmmm, not doing it for me either.

Liberate yourself, and your family and friends too, from grudgingly doing anything this year.

Gather up all those that will be with you this year, let everyone describe their best bits, the bits that make Christmas for them, get creative and see how many can be accommodated if maybe someone was happy to come early to make all the beds, or are more than happy to stay sober to drive Mum to church at midnight on Christmas eve…. everyone getting at least their most favourite bit.

Once you get clear about what it would take to make it low stress for you it’s not usually beyond the wit of man to come up with how to do that.

Want lots of company and all the family together but without being a galley slave for the duration?

I know one family who each arrive on the day with a major contribution, one travelling the length of the county with a hot turkey taking up most of the back seat of the car, another all the veg and trimmings, another the starter and pudding, another all the wine and other drinks. The house hosts make the beds, the fires, the games, the music, the crackers and lay the table. Once there, they stay another day or so and take it in turns to make meals and clear up so it’s all shared out, some like doing it on their own for a bit of quiet and others in pairs for a proper catch up.

Want to have everyone round but to have more harmony than arguments and moaning then how about signing up to this.

Make no complaint without suggestion.

If you need to come up with a suggestion before complaining about something, and have agreed not to complain at all if you can’t come up with a do-able suggestion, it can do wonders for your holiday atmosphere.

So, if everyone’s yacking away, the TV’s on and there are radio noises too, drifting in from another room, the moaning version could come out as

“What a racket, I can’t think in all this noise”

The ‘no complaint without suggestion’ version might translate into;

Would anyone object if we closed this door to keep the radio to the other room?

Or

“Would anyone like to join me for a quiet walk for half an hour?”

Or

“I think I’m going to take half an hour’s quiet, in my room with my book”.

If something you dearly wanted to eat or drink has been forgotten but all the shops are closed and you can’t think of another way of getting some then you’d just

‘Hud yer weesht’ (hold your quiet or keep one’s mouth shut) as they say where I come from.

Soul nourishing best ever Christmases……sculpt away. Do let me know what makes up a soul nourishing Christmas for you and just how creative you’ve been to bring it about. e-mail me

Go Well

Pauline

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