Every single year I think this will be the one. The Christmas when my parsnips will be lovingly glazed in premium maple syrup, my medal-winning turkey ordered in mid-October and my entire present list purchased before November’s out. And every single year it isn’t and they aren’t.
But that’s never stopped me being optimistic. When those magazines thwack onto the doormat (with their cherubic children, roaring fires and multifarious options for yuletide colour palettes), I’ve always fallen hard for the festive dream. And consequently set myself goals like…
1. House perfection. Forget the usual (barely) controlled chaos; our Christmas house must be a haven of twinkling lights, flickering candles and festive aromas. It must on no account contain two incontinent guinea pigs, lurid artwork featuring Baby Cheesus (thanks kids) and a wonky tree with THE WRONG KIND OF NEEDLES.
2. Exemplary hostessing. No, no, at Christmas the “relatively clean” sheets the family has come to expect in our guest room are not good enough. Now they must not
only be freshly laundered, but according to a persuasive lifestyle blog I happened upon, also be new and accompanied by a wardrobe with fancy stuffed hangers. (NB A disproportionate amount of time was spent Googling said hangers when it should have been spent purchasing premium maple syrup/a medal-winning turkey/presents.)
3. Chef-standard food. As a cook who is mediocre at best, I am usually chuffed if I can get a roast on the table that’s actually edible. At Christmas, though, I feel I can’t present a dish without super-charging it with a quirky ingredient. Which, in the case of clotted cream white sauce, literally is a recipe for disaster.
Aarggh. I can feel the pressure mounting already. So this year, it’s all change. I’m going to take the wise, grown-up approach and CHEAT. I’m buying pre-prepped food (frankly M&S Christmas pudding is far superior to anything I could create). More importantly, I’m going to relax and accept the bladder-challenged guinea pigs and wonky tree with unsanctioned royal blue tinsel for what they are. Part of our chaotic and un-colour-coordinated – but very happy – Christmas. Cheers.