I'd hoped to be able to slacken off a bit by now, but this Christmas will find me and Sir, yet again, driving 80 miles northwards to spend Christmas with my mother.
Ah, yes. My mother. Now, sadly, a widow, my mother is 84 years old and shows signs of outliving us all. Which is hardly surprising, considering. When I say we spend Christmas with her, what I mean is we'll go there and cook for her. Not just on Christmas day, but dinner on the 23rd when we arrive, and all meals for the next three days. Once upon a time that wasn't a problem and the menu for Christmas lunch used to look like this:
Various Hors d'Oeuvre:
Crudites & Dip
Pickled Niftys on Sticks
Roast potatoes, roast parsnips, Brussels sprouts, mashed potato, and peas.
Christmas pudding and cream
The hors d'oeuvre and first course would be served with Champagne and the beef with red wine.
Whilst Sir cooked the beef and chopped mushrooms and onions for the duxelles mixture in the food processor, I'd be peeling sprouts and potatoes, rolling out pastry, slicing veg for crudites, and jamming anything edible that wasn't otherwise spoken for, onto cocktail sticks. By 2 o'clock in the afternoon, I'd be prostrate on the sofa, more from sheer exhaustion than any over-indulgence.
Mother, meanwhile, would sit at the kitchen table, talking. Though, to be fair, she always peeled a few of the sprouts.
Well, not anymore. I'm getting far too old for any such mullarky, and this year we're cheating. Oh, yes, we're still having Beef Wellington - but they're individual ones, bought frozen from our local Aldi supermarket. So are the hors d'oeuvre. Gone are the crudites and pickled wossnames to be replaced by filo prawns and brie and cranberry wedges. The roast potatoes, the Brussels, and the peas also come frozen.
At least this year I should be able to grasp my knife and fork with palms free from cocktail-stick-inflicted puncture wounds, and enjoy my Christmas lunch without feeling the need to sleep for a week after I've eaten it.
All we need to do now is buy my mother a bigger freezer in time for Christmas. Or, better still, a cook!