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Monday, December 2, 2013

It can't be December already?

Am I alone in thinking it is only April? Because that is where my brain is… but the Christmas decorations are in the shops (and have been since September), my to do list includes “Christmas Cards” and the Christmas pudding is steaming in the kitchen so I have to accept the fact that it is indeed December and it must be Christmas.

Even my husband, grumbling as he hauled the ladder in from the garage to retrieve the Christmas tree and decorations from our highest cupboard, muttered. “Isn’t it only yesterday I put the Christmas decorations away?”

Every year seems to speed up.

Is it because I am already entering dates for August next year in my diary? And son is getting married! Or is it just because I am getting old?

I remember my 95 year old grandmother saying “My dear, at my age, a year is only one 95th of my life… when you are (pointing to 7 year old son) his age it is one 7th of your life.”

Perhaps it is the law of diminishing returns. The older you get, the faster the years fly by…

The dead give away that Christmas is approaching, at least in this part of the world is the frantic pressure everyone suddenly seems to be under. For Australians Christmas = summer holidays. While there are only 3 public holidays, Australia effectively shuts down for at least two weeks. When I was in the Army I always thought Christmas would be the ideal time for a full scale invasion. All the potential invading force would find to oppose them would be a door with the sign “Re-opens January 13”.

We must catch up before Christmas!” my friends cry…

You see the hordes in the supermarket stocking up on food as if Armageddon was due to arrive at any moment. You ask friends how they are and they roll their grey ringed eyes heavenwards and say “I’m so stressed! I can’t wait for Christmas to be over.” I know they don’t mean it.

Why do we do this to ourselves? What is it about Christmas that resets our clocks? As soon as Christmas is over, its as if the nation heaves a sigh and a Boxing Day torpor descends on the land.

Then we make our New Year’s resolutions as if the flick of a clock hand suddenly changes everything.

How Alison sees herself....
Would I change anything? Not a bit! I’m no Grinch. I love Christmas, I love the busy-ness of Christmas. The careful planning of the presents, the Christmas baking that ties me to the women of my family from generations past and the family coming together.

The tree is up, the fruit mince for the mince tarts (family recipe)is maturing in a dark cupboard and yesterday in 36 degree heat I spent 8 hours steaming the Christmas pudding. Ah yes, Christmas in Australia does it bring its own challenges! This year, for the first time, we are spending the day with one of my sons and his partner. I love how my family of 4 has become a family of 6. Oh… I just love Christmas and yes as soon as Boxing Day comes I will reset my clock, make my New Year’s Resolutions and the cycle of life will continue.

Alison's 17th Century recipe for Christmas Pudding
This is the recipe for my famous "Seventeenth Century" Christmas Pudding 


250g flour,  1 tsp nutmeg, 250g suet 1 tsp cinnamon, 250g dark (Barbados) sugar, 250g each of sultanas, raisins, currants and mixed peel
250g grated new carrot, 100 slivered blanched almonds, 250g grated raw potato, 1 large wineglass of brandy or sherry, 3 or 4 tsp mixed spice 

1. Mix all ingredients thoroughly and put in greased basins, covered with greaseproof paper and a cloth.
2. Steam for 8 hours.
3. Cool and change cloth.
4. Re-steam for 3 hours and serve with brandy butter, custard etc.
Notes: can be made not too long in advance and it can be frozen. It makes one large and one small wonderful, dark, very rich pudding!