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Sunday, December 07, 2014

Christmas Television and Movies

Christmas has more and more become a time for favourite TV repeats and movies and less and less a time for quality original programming.

I get my own copy of the Radio Times (courtesy of Husband). I comb through looking for movies I haven't seen or interesting looking dramas, or comedy specials. Generally I end up with a collection of "Top 100..." (or whatever number) populated with clips and talking heads. If things fall right it will inform me for one of our TV traditions "The Big Fat Quiz of the Year".

We have a heap of Christmas movies that get fitted in; Bill Murray in 'Scrooged' and James Stewart (just had to check with Husband to make sure I wasn't confusing him with James Cagney or Gregory Peck!) in "It's a Wonderful Life". I don't mind throwing in any of a whole batch of other non-Christmas related musicals either.

When I was growing up you could rely on the whole range of BBC comedy shows having Christmas specials... and of course the now infamous "Morecambe and Wise" which still, thirty years later, gets trotted out for repeats.

To this day I will never forget my father falling about laughing at Morecambe and Wise with Andre Previn (shown in 1971 so already on repeats)...

Nothing tickled my father more than Eric Morecambe's statement delivered with such conviction "I'm playing all the right notes, but not necessarily in the right order"

We've seen some passable Christmas movies over the last decade or so, but none that (so far) want to join the line up of Christmas tradition.

Saturday, December 06, 2014

Santa Claus

6th December is the feast of St Nicholas so we're thinking about Santa Claus; Father Christmas if you'd rather.

In our house a large chunk of Christmas Eve was given over to preparation for the arrival of Father Christmas. Happy in the knowledge that we'd been good children and were on the 'nice' list; we'd leave out a plate of cookies and a glass of milk (or a dram of whisky depending on which parent was overseeing activity) for Santa. Outside the front of the house we'd leave a bucket of water and some carrots for his reindeer; we were mindful that pulling the sleigh must be hungry, thirsty work!

We didn't have a fireplace to hang stockings on; so we'd hang pillows on the end of our bed.

Sometime during the night the pillowcases would be filled with presents (although not if curious children tried to stay awake). If you did stay awake though you'd hear bells jingling as Santa made his rounds!

I'm sure I was older than most when I realised that Santa was in fact my parents... consuming the food, emptying the water bucket and using our little bell stick to make magical noises.

All the children I know (most of them are seven or younger) believe in Santa Claus, and today I was introduced to a delightful book "The Elf on the Shelf" a household elf who keeps an eye on the children of the house and reports back to Santa if they've been naughty or nice!

The happy memories and excitement of Christmas Eve and waiting for Santa, trying to stay awake but always falling asleep are something that every child should have. The concept of Santa rewarding good children and keeping a "naughty and nice" list is something that can help install a basic moral compass in children too.

The image of the jolly bearded chap in the red suit is something that is almost synonymous with Christmas and brings a smile to everyone's faces regardless of age.

Friday, December 05, 2014

Christmas Recipies

Cooking at Christmas is something that, from my childhood, was an immense task. Our family didn't live too far apart so often there would be a least a dozen (sometimes more) for lunch on Christmas day.

Dad serving up Christmas
Preparation started early (just imagine the size of the turkey for that many people).

My father was always king of the kitchen, although my Gran (his mother), and my mother (Queen of the roast potatoes) would also pitch in.

My other Gran would make a pudding (boiled in muslin old school) and a cake; shame these are things I've never been fond of.

When it comes to my own Christmas, I only have to cook for two; my husband and I. Mostly I buy ready prepared that just needs putting in the oven. Occasionally I make stuffing (although the pre-made stuff is actually nicer)! I don't bake cakes, pies, or puddings. The most cooking I do is scrambled eggs for breakfast (mine with smoked salmon). 

I do cook when my Mum comes to visit after Christmas, usually a casserole as it can be left to its own devices whilst you enjoy times with guests.

Sorry I can't offer you any recipes - even bread sauce and cranberry sauce come out of a packet and a jar!