Christmas wrap up


I can say it now, as the fireworks haze has cleared and we are contemplating the blank page of a brand new year, I’m really not such a big wrap for Christmas.

It was Christmas Eve and we had suffered through the warmest December night on record. The thermometer hovered around the 30-degree mark for most of the night, dipping to 27.4 at 9am that morning.

Bleary-eyed last minute shoppers milled about the local shops looking dazed and confused. I watched a man contemplating a mango mango   in each hand for the longest time before replacing them both with an avocado. Similar shape I suppose.

I was looking for something last minute to wrap my lovingly baked but violently iced gift of gingerbread cupcakes. The piping bag exploded along the seam and royal icing adorned my entire forearm to the elbow. Aided by the impetus of rapidly setting icing, I eventually settled on artfully scattered splodges scooped out of the ruined piping bag. A sprinkling of silver cachou balls completed the whimsical look I was quite clearly aiming for.

Back to the packaging of said baked goods and there was not a skerrick of Christmas hued cellophane to be found in my neighbourhood. The only paper plates left were those ridiculously flimsy jobs – one mince pie and it folds like a cheap suit.

Fortunately bio-mum had come through again with another of her re-giftable present ideas. Bless.

xmas present

She had handed me the box several days before Christmas and insisted I open it before her. Perhaps it was something heartfelt and significant – something that finally reflected her unfathomable regret at having left her children and missed all those birthdays and Christmases.

Ah, excellent – an eight-piece bistro cheese set which, if I’m honest, only marginally surpassed the Lilliputian eight piece Japanese dining set from last year in terms of how little I coveted it. My daughters were equally underwhelmed with their scented candles. Mint and ginger or vanilla and green tea, they had the combined aroma therapeutic power of toilet freshener.

They both agreed the woman is quite shit at this.

Fortunately the eight piece bistro cheese set had, in amongst the weeny domed plates and microscopic cheese knives, a thin oval platter that turned out to be perfect for my gingerbread cupcakes. Glass half empty – glass half full.

Speaking of glasses, mine was permanently full later that night during Christmas Eve with my beloved Mr P’s family. Despite our newly minted relationship, it is obvious I occupy the role of family lush and quite frankly, it’s a position I take extremely seriously.

This festive affair is, I have surmised, characterised by enough food to cater for the entire population of Namibia.

African village

Not content with the usual ham/turkey or turkey/pork combo, spouse’s family of ten (swollen to thirteen with the addition of visiting UK relatives and a family friend) can choose from gargantuan platters of turkey, ham, pork, beef and salmon. Along with vats of vegetables, massive mixed salads and a bushel of roast potatoes there is a nod to paternal heritage in the guise of a couple of dozen Yorkshire puddings.

Desserts are no less prolific and the whole celebratory shebang while undoubtedly well meaning, is nevertheless an exercise in gluttony and excess.

We leave clutching containers of left over protein that should see me googling thrifty recipe sites for the rest of the week.

Christmas Day and I managed to destroy the first gift I opened. Spouse had, along with the previously blogged requisite perfume, given me a pair of sandals. Anxious to wear them immediately I set about cutting the paper tie securing various straps – and sheared right through them.

After a civilized breakfast of Pol Roger with my ex husband, his partner and our daughters, it was off to feast with my family.

We began with enough prawns and oysters to fill a Japanese whaling ship. Several bin bags full of crustacean debris later it was onto the spit roasted pig and turkey. It was like being an extra at the court in Game of Thrones.


Once again ten average sized adults and three teenagers were being plied with the equivalent of our dietary requirement for the ensuing six months.

It’s like competition catering. Surely there is some kind of minimum/maximum serving formula that can be calculated before the serious investing in farmed and fattened festive fare?

Even if you score several containers of left overs, inevitably the four day old turkey gets turfed when it’s so dry you can’t swallow anymore and the mere sight of ham makes your stomach turn.

The pudding which generously serves thirty and has served six on the day because it lost to the pavlova, sits wrapped in foil slowly being pushed further and further to the back of your fridge. You will probably rediscover it when you are looking for the hoi sin in late August.

It will eventually be our turn to host this yuletide feeding frenzy again. Kith and kin should possibly prepare themselves for nouvelle Noel cuisine.

nouvelle cuisine

Their waistlines will thank me.


About Learning the hard way

Jane is of the belief that her life's purpose may well be to serve as a warning to others. She is unsure as to why she speaks in the third person...
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