Seven Christmas Cakes Six Yule Logs, Five Bottles of Champers, Two Sambucas and a Partridge in a Pear Tree….

FIFTH DAY

I spent the day in a haze  having had hardly any sleep and we all rallied round trying to manage a very active Matilda eating all the wrong food of course.  The busy week looming ahead of me had just become even more complicated. Matilda would need dropping off…picking up..looking after Grrrr…. I did manage to start the present wrapping but there was more shopping still to do. Kate and I discussed the game plan and feeling less than festive I crawled into bed.

SIXTH DAY

Getting ready for work and rushing about I remember I have to get things out of the freezer for tomorrow’s dinner party! Thanks god I had the foresight to cook the main course and pudding in advance and freeze them. I drop into work and sort out a few things  and then I have to pick Laura up and go to the Fracture clinic. Having walked this path many times before I know that we could be there hours.  Trying to park was a nightmare, you would think that they could do better when they are charging you £4.00 for the privilege.  I drop Laura  outside and eventually the nice car park man takes pity on me and lets me park in someones place.  Much to my surprise Laura is seen quickly and thank god it is not a complicated break so no pins or ops required so that’s a nice change. Dropping her off, back to work I go… hi ho hi ho.

SEVENTH DAY

Back in at work and with not many clients looking to follow-up on CVs at this time of year and the influx of CVs slowing right down there is not much to do. We send out the last of our Christmas cards and Chloe sorts out the payroll. I’m still coughing and not feeling that great so we have decided to go and visit clients in the New Year rather than now. At least I have not needed to pick up or drop off Matilda she is being delivered to me at around 7pm by which time my dinner guests should be arriving.  So I head off to the shops and spend more money. The recruitment girls Amanda Claire Natalie Anna and Chloe arrive in dribs and drabs and before long my arms are full of wine and chocolates and pressies.  Matilda arrives and is soon the centre of attention. We are just waiting for Maria who had confirmed yesterday but when my phone beeps indicating I had a message and it was her crying off I was’nt surprised.  I already had the starters in the oven so looks like we would just have to eat another portion of the Baked Camembert with garlic and rosemary.

We had all worked together in recruitment over the years and have kept a close lbond despite our differing lifestyles. Anna is a stay at home mum of three ..Natalie is a stay at home mum and a very active Jehovah’s witness, Amanda is a single cat owning wildchild who like me still works in recruitment, Claire works part-time and has grown up children ,Chloe works with me of course and is the baby of the bunch. We meet up every few months and take turns in hosting dinner and this has been going on for years and years. But it’s always my job to do the Christmas one.  Sitting around the table we spend the time catching up and discussing a wide plethora of problems from elderly and ailing parents to schools and education, Amanda’s tumultuous love life, my toyboys and life in general.  All coming from a sales background there is never a silent moment and the room is humming with gossip and laughter with everyone trying to get their two penneth in. My very alcoholic Orange Mascarpone and Cointreau ice cream goes down a treat and we eventually slump in the front room around the Xmas tree to watch the latest episode of TOWIE.

EIGHTH AND NINTH DAY

After more shopping and wrapping, work and running up and down the hill with Matilda, I spend the next two evenings with two different groups of friends at the same Italian restaurant.  On Wednesday with my older girls where the whole table is covered in beautifully wrapped presents and on Wednesday with the girls from Laurels Beauty Salon which my friend owns.  I was so full of Pasta and Pizza everything I put on felt tight and uncomfortable and we hadn’t even got to Christmas dinner yet!!.

TENTH DAY

Friday comes and I am looking forward to a much-needed non food related night out and although the Virus is still lingering I keep dosed up on co-codamol and cough linctus and am determined to stay the course. My first job of the day is go into Enfield to collect our Turkey from Waitrose.  So off I go to a heaving a busy town centre with a final list and find not surprsingly I have to park out a bit and by the time I’ve got the shopping back, including the heavy Turkey I swear that one of my arms is a foot longer than the other.  My body is missing the gym and I’m feeling it . Everything is aching including my feet.  I am trying to remember whether or not I have taken my full quota of HRT tablets. Because believe me if I’ve even missed one I will know about it. It is incredible what that tiny pill is capable of and I have forgotten the knock on effects will soon become apparent. When I’m  as busy as this its hard to keep the routine going. I suppose this is where I miss a “Husband” I used to be able to delegate a number of jobs to him and now the burden falls on me and my daughters but what I won’t miss is the effect he used to have on Christmas day itself.  Having to spend the day in the company of the whole family especially my eldest son used to change him into the Grinch!. He could produce the most amazing wind chill factor and cut through fun and laughter with one icy stare !.

So after all the running about I can’t wait to get the wine opened and after my final run up the hill to collect Matilda and deliver her to her mum I get back into the office and we pop open a bottle of fizz. Chloe and I finish off our last-minute bits swigging as we go and then we shut up the office and walk up to “Laurels” so I can have my nails painted and have a glass of champers with the girls.  By the time we leave it is pouring with rain and off we go to the local pub wearing a matching pair of Christmas cowboy hats!.By this time I am feeling the effects of the drink and as friends come and go so do the full and empty glasses.

We end up doing a bit of a pub crawl but by eleven o’clock and due to the early start and lack of food I realise that I should go home.  I don’t know how we managed it but we walked home. Still wearing our Christmas Cowboy hats and in my case matching stilettos. We grab some Chicken and chips; the smell drawing us in as we pass and go home for a yummy chip sandwich. White bread thick proper butter and chips inside . Then I pass out on the sofa.

CHRISTMAS EVE

I am glad when I wake up that at least we got to bed at a reasonable time and so I actually feel quite fresh. The chips would have helped of course. There is a noise in the hallway and I realise that the postman has been and expecting more cards with which to decorate the hall I go and pick the post up from the mat.

The first one I open is a parking fine for a £130. apparently I was in Camden Town on the 15th and driving what looks like a coach. Laughing my head off as I rarely leave Enfield and as for driving a coach !! The second letter is my Decree Absolute as usual my husbands timing (oops I mean EX.) is impeccable and I can almost hear “Horseface” neighing with delight all the way from Norfolk! There is not a card in sight.  Ah well!

Kate (who had stayed the night) and I, decide to sort out the tables for Christmas day and dragging in the garden table with legs falling off and trying to work out how we are going to seat Twelve we end up giggling like idiots.

We discuss the plans for the day over a bacon sandwich I am now under pressure as I have my icing to do.  My Christmas cakes are all part of the ritual and I give them away as gifts.  Having baked in advance it’s just the icing to do but that is not as easy as it sounds. not with seven Christmas cakes and six Yule logs to do! I have homes for them all and in addition I had decided to give my neighbour ” Hero Mick ”  a cake and a bottle of wine as a thank you for looking after my broken daughter.

One Christmas cake goes to the old gentleman next door who lives on his own and this year my young next-door neighbour Pete had indicated he would like a Yule Log instead of fruit cake. My first Christmas spent at my new address three years ago was quite special and I had been very impressed to find a home-baked loaf had been left on my doorstep by Pete on Christmas Eve.  It was a lovely gesture and gave a somewhat different meaning to the word “Neighbour” than I had been used to . (My last Neighbour of course being the infamous “Horseface” ). So a regular tradition was created Pete would cook me something, last year it was yummy Steak pasties and this year a Steak and Ale pie that I have yet to enjoy and I would give him one of my cakes.

This year it would seem I had more than ever to ice and rolling up my sleeves I get stuck in. It is soon obvious that I need more Icing and Kate is sent up and down the high street to look for some more. Then while I’m whipping up the thick Chocolate Butter Icing for the Yule logs my mixer overwhelmed with the amount chugs to a stop! Great! off Kate goes again in search of a mixer but to no avail. So between us and using a wooden spoon we beat the mixture into submission. We are due at my Nieces for a family afternoon at 2pm so Nanny can give out her present’s and as I have cakes for them too I can see that I’m going to be very late.  I manage to keep calm and with the help of some soothing Christmas Carols I eventually pop the last Robin in place and stand back to admire my work.   Then its upstairs quick shower and make-up on AGAIN! and loading up the car with pressies and cakes I’m off to see the family.

By now I am so tired the thought of mustering up the energy to go out again which had been the plan seems impossible and the other factor is of course that Laura would be on her own with Matilda which doesn’t feel right . So after spending a couple of hours with the family and delivering Nanny home and all their cakes to their owners we settle for a nice Chinese and some TV. We do of course go through the Father Christmas ritual with Matilda and leave him out something to eat and a drink and carrots for Rudolph and the other reindeers. It takes me back, as the last child I had to that for was Jack who is now 20. We were so good at the fairytale that he still firmly believed in Santa into his tenth year.  I remember discussing this with his Father as Jack was due to start secondary school and fearing he would be made a fool of we told him the truth.  So it was lovely to have the magic back on Christmas Eve. Matilda goes up to bed with no problem and we have a nice relaxing evening.  Olivia turns up and has made us all home -made fudge and we exchange and open gifts with a large Baileys to hand. The room is full to bursting with presents I have never seen so many and I cant wait to see everyone’s faces tomorrow when they get opened.

CHRISTMAS DAY

We get up around eight and Matilda sleeps in so we have time to get organised. The table is laid and we managed to get places for everyone. I organise the garden chairs in the small conservatory bit so that the smokers had a place to sit. I start on the brussels and carrots. Chef (Kate) had instructed that we are not to touch anything else as she wanted to do it. She arrives at 9.30 a.m with the stuffing she has made and prepares the turkey! The oven goes on. Cliff is singing away in the background and the house is bustling. Matilda gets up and we do the whole “OOHHH look Santa has been ” thing, which is lovely. Jack gets up having been out with his mates and is hung over and is already asking if tha bacon sarnies are on yet.  His job, as always is to sort the presents in piles according to their owners and telling him to start that we get the frying pan out for the bacon. I’m still peeling bloody Brussels!. Rory rings to stay that they will be with us in about twenty minutes and can we get the bacon on!.  Present opening is scheduled for 10 am.

When Rory Estelle and Isaac arrive we can at last get to the presents.  unfortunately the front room of my two up two down Victorian terrace is getting rather small for my expanding family and I can’t even get on the sofa. So with bacon sandwiches in hand we start the unwrapping. Ohhs and Ahhs and thank you’s all round and tears from me as Kate had bought me a much-needed “Netbook” my ten-year old lap top with missing keys has been on its last legs for sometime but I just couldn’t afford a new one”  I was thrilled , we all ended up blubbing. The black sack gets full of wrapping paper  and aware that our first guests are due in fifteen minutes I rush upstairs to get dressed and Kate goes back into the kitchen.  The others with the exception of Laura carry all the presents upstairs except of course for Isaac’s and Matilda’s toys which are strewn over the floor.

I’m still getting dressed as Rory opens the first bottle of Champagne and then the door goes and Trudy Dave James and Wendy arrive.  Trudy Dave and James always spend Christmas day with us and this time we have Trudy’s sister Wendy who lost her partner to cancer earlier in the year. I have known them both since I was four so there is no question of leaving Wendy to her own devices. Pop goes another bottle of champagne and with Kate peeling potatoes and me still doing the bloody brussels sprouts we are in high spirits.  Cliff goes off and Booblay goes on an Michelle and Dave and their two little ones arrive.  They are just passing through but always come for a glass of Champers. There are more presents exchanged and pop goes another bottle of Champagne.

I finish the brussels at last and as is tradition we change the music for the ” kitchen dance” . I knew exactly which song would be good for this. Last year it  was the Black Eyed Peas but this year there was only one choice “Moves Like Jagger” Maroon Five.” Turning the volume right up and opening more Champagne we all start making some shapes until my small kitchen is full of writhing and giggling bodies. Even Laura who is of course impersonating Tiny Tim this year manages to do a few moves on her crutches . Rory gets out the video camera  and then we suddenly realise that no one had “Baby Charlotte ” Rory backs up filming still and comes back clutching a happy and smiling Charlotte who was playing with wrapping paper in the other room.   After two more repeats of the song and more Champagne Michelle and Dave head off for their next destination.

With the dinner in hand and underway its time to get our coats on and take the fifteen minute walk to our local country pub where we have arranged to meet more friends.  Jack agrees to drop off Laura but will not be joining us as he would rather go and see his mates (His GF Pamela is in Brazil with her parents so he is keeping busy! We do all manage to speak and see her on Skype later and wish her a Merry Christmas) Off we go down to the pub meeting and greeting various friends and neighbours en route. The pub as always on this day is heaving and drinking some Gin and Tonics and kissing everyone we know we spend the next hour or so in drunken conversation. I wish though that Chef (Kate) had not decided to have couple of Sambucus by the time we get back she was in Gordan Ramsey mode  and the “Sous Chef” namely me was being ordered about like a skivvy. After various loud and sarcastic “Yes Chefs” I collapsed against the wall in a fit  of uncontrollable laughter incapable of carrying out her last command . Grinning at me manically she takes a large handful of nearby crisps and shoving then down the front of my dress she smashes them to a pulp. Thanks Chef ! nothing worse than a crumbed cleavage.

Dinner however was cooked to perfection( despite the kitchen staff not being up to scratch!)  The meat wasnt dry,  the goose fat potatoes were crisp.It was all yummy. Directly after dinner we all collapse and Wendy who had cleared her plate along with Dave who always does , was soon snoring loudly.  We get to the Christmas pudding eventually and with Amanda turning up carrying my favorite cocktail under her arm the whole day had been a blessing. Chef had to go and lay down and complained that she had an upset stomach,  nothing to do with the Sambucus of course.  But it had been a very Merry Christmas! God Bless Us One and All! Now just have to gear up for “New Years Eve” .

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