Ten years ago, I cooked an unforgettable Christmas dinner.
Now, I would love to tell you that it was my perfectly cooked roast potatoes (crispy on the outside and soft in the middle) that my family have retained in their memories…
Or the satisfying blend of sweet and savoury, in each mouthful of the home-made Sausagemeat and Apple stuffing, that I had so lovingly prepared…
Or the tangy, vibrancy of the Braised Red Cabbage that accompanied the meal so perfectly.
But no. It was none of these things.
What was truly, TRULY unforgettable, to everyone present, was the fact that I completely and utterly ruined the turkey. I cooked it low and slow….And then I cooked it some more…And then I got distracted watching my kids open their presents, and completely forgot about dinner…until….the glorious Christmas Bird, that had been so kindly and proudly presented to us by my Mother-in-Law, was almost burnt-to-a-crisp! Oh, my goose was well and truly cooked! In fact it was a dried-out disaster!
Fortunately, my folks, who were also joining us for dinner, had a spare Ham, hanging around in their fridge. So, against the odds, we tucked into all that we could salvage of the dry turkey, with slices of succulent ham, and gallons of gravy! And after the initial embarrassment – once we’d all had a glass of wine or two- the jokes about the burnt turkey began to fly! Ten years later and I’ve never lived it down.
I’ll never forget the sight of my husband, kicking the shrivelled carcass up the garden, gaffawing about the fact that even the foxes wouldn’t touch it with a barge-pole.
So this year…I’m so very pleased to report, that my turkey cooking was on the money! I mean, I had something to prove! I bought the poshest, most organic, (blinking expensive) Free Range Turkey that I could find…one that came with IDIOT-PROOF COOKING INSTRUCTIONS and a little thermometer thingamy-jig, that the butcher promised would ‘pop up’ when the turkey reached the correct temperature. I watched that thing like a hawk..until, “It’s popped!” – came my gleeful cry- at which point the turkey was whisked out of that oven quicker than you could say boo to a goose!
Christmas. I absolutely LOVE Christmas. To me, it’s definitely the most wonderful time of the year. But just like that turkey, sometimes I worry that we’ve well and truly ‘overdone it!’ Sometimes I wonder why we eat so much, and drink so much, and spend so much…and yet somehow completely lose sight of what it’s all about. Sometimes, I find that I am far too prone to get distracted by the fanciful and just forget…
And so, today, I want to say thank you! I want to take a moment, right here, right now, to stop and be mindful of the things that really matter.
Over the Festive Season, I have had the joy of spending quality time with the people I love. I spent a golden day with my wonderful mum, Christmas shopping in London. I have had the opportunity to welcome friends and family, into my home, and to be welcomed into the homes of others. I have enjoyed delicious food, and I’ve had time to relax and unwind. I’ve known the fun of giving and receiving gifts. I’ve revelled in the cosiness of home. And I’ve reflected about the birth of a baby, 2000 years ago, born to redeem us. These things are just too precious to be taken for granted. And today, I am so grateful.
Merry Christmas one and all.