Putting the merriment back into Christmas
Ok, ok, there were a few drinky-dinkies on board by the time this shot was taken.
But the merriment was not (purely) alcohol-induced.
It was a great Christmas.
It started with the usual electricity in the air as we all walked down the stairs in a procession at the ungodly hour of 08:20 to the front room, to see if Santa had delivered.
And boy did he!
The following half hour was a blur of wrapping paper being torn to pieces with ferocious appetite.
Then it was a welcome cup of tea at long last (in my Hosanna in the Hiace mug), and the setting up of the Risk game, and Luca got to start first, because after all it was his present from Nana.
And the next 2.5 hours went in a flash, and Luca won, and he was pretty delighted with himself, and I thoroughly enjoy it, my first game of Risk in 47 years that did not end in tears. I must be learning the art of losing with grace in my old age.
We did ban Nana from playing though, so that helped.
Then after the game of Risk, there was much activity in the kitchen, to get the starter ready (prawns 2 ways, with smoked salmon 2 ways) and work out all the timings to have all the components of the main ready at the same time:
- Haggis > 1 hour 20 minutes
- Traditonal crown of turkey (for Pepe): 1 hour 15 minutes
- Special oven potatoes for Pepe: 50 minutes
- Pan-fried Guinea Fowl: 45 minutes (flambeed with whiskey 10 minutes into the proceedings)
- Reheating the not-the-crown turkey with mushroom, carrots, celery and white wine sauce: 30 minutes
- Traditional style mushy peas (for Pepe): 20 minutes
- Pan-fried duck breasts: 20 minutes
Pepe arrived somewhere between the haggis going in the oven and the Guinea fowl being dissected.
More presents were opened. His special ham was admired and sniffed and poked.
Champagne was drunk, on top of the sneaky Asahi I had had during the game of risk, and the Tisky while peeling the potatoes.
And somehow it all seemed to fall into place. Without anything getting burned, or the cook getting too pissed.
We had a very merry meal, and two very fine reds. And the kids showed Foil Arms and Hogs to Pepe (today's blip), and Mrs Raheny demonstrated her best Northen Irish accent to Nana (a mixture of seeing too much Peaky Blinders and visiting Dr McCrory's practice every second week).
And then we were stuffed.
So a few breaths of fresh air were in order, and Nana and I took the kids to the university gardens for a bit of running around like mad lunatics in the dark, cold, damp, gorgeous air.
Much needed it was!
So when we got back home, we were totally ready for the cognac- and-coffee chocolate mousse (which tasted delicious, with just the right amount of Cognac, and coffee, and nothing to do with the fact that I mistook centiliters for milliliters the night before, when Mrs Raheny made the mousse). Pepe had had a tactical snooze while Mrs Raheny cleaned the kitchen as if it were the Augean stables (my guess is that there was less grease from pan-fried duck and Guinea fowl on the walls of the Augean stables...)
Finally it was time for the game of Cluedo. In fairness, Mimi had been looking forward to it since getting the board game from Pepe. The whole point of the game is to pay very close attention to the clues being given, and proceeding by elimination.
It's a pity that in our advanced stage of festive merriment, not much attention was given to the clues...
Pepe asked no less than 3 times for Miss Scarlett to come to the dinning room with the rope...
And then the game of Cluedo was put away while the bottle of Carlos Primero was brought in.
And the video projector was set up.
And Pepe did his slide show. Which could have been entitled 'Pepe through the Ages'. With some cool shots of him in shorts and sandals at the tender age of 5, and in dinner jackets and black tie in the mid sixties, and shiny suits with shoulder pads and huge pilot specs in the 80s, and the scary shot of him showing off a lot of translucent white skin, with his speedos pulled up to within 3mm of his belly button.
And then the slide show (286 family archive photographs) came to an end, and the room was still very cosy and warm, with the turf fire very slowly dying down, and we all reckoned that not having a TV in the house is not a huge loss, to the contrary, and we all thanked each other for a great day.
And when I kissed Mimi and Finn goodnight and told them that I loved them, and asked them if they had had a great Christmas, they did not hesitate before replying that it had been a great day, and it felt,well, great.
And then it dawned on us that we had forgotten about the Christmas pudding! The lighting of the brandy on the pudding is one of the highlights of Christmas! But Nana had by then kicked off the snorefest in the attic room and Pepe had started the downstairs part of the snoring contest.
We agreed that incomplete as it may be, a great day is still a great day.
And the curtain came down on Christmas 2017.