At this stage last Christmas, we’d have been swamped with social engagements – work nights out, dinners and lunches with friends and family. We never thought it would – or could – be any different. Christmas socialising was planned with military precision; juggling dates so that we could attend the School play, the Carol Concert, the Christmas Craft Fairs, and still attend all the other events too..
How we would have laughed, last Christmas, if anyone had said in an outraged tone ‘There’s no Social Distancing going on here’ or had asked if we could ‘please wear a mask indoors’..
But here we are with a different Christmas, coming at the end of a difficult year. Some of our family members and best friends will not be sitting at our tables this year. Some hard decisions have been made; some hearts broken.
My sister and I had the difficult discussion yesterday, and with our great friends shielding, it’s a Table for Three in Eating for Ireland Towers this year. Once I’d broken the news we realised that we’ve never, ever had a Christmas all on our own before.. strange times..
In my case I said, ‘well, that’s that then’ – only not exactly in those words 😉 – had my silent sob in the bathroom and tried to move on, hoping for better times next year. For others, it’s come as a terrible blow, heaped upon all the other terrible blows they’ve had this year.
We try to remind ourselves that it’s ‘just one day’. But it’s a day that comes but once a year, and traditions of years’ standing have been broken; in some cases, forever.
I know that I’ve been very lucky this year. And while loved ones will be missing from my Christmas Dinner table this year, I’ve been making a real effort to send as much of the taste of Christmas to as many of my friends and family as possible. Christmas is a time for giving, so why not give them a taste of Christmas to enjoy at home?
I started with posting some ‘taster’ mince pies to friends and family in November. I’ve no idea how many mince pies I’ve made this year.. You can never have too many Mince Pies, right?
I’ve made two lots of Tiffin – and they’re heading off too. A good friend sent me an accusatory text saying that she’d eaten far too much Tiffin, as had her Christmas Cake-hating family. She’s finally found a Christmas flavoured product that pleases everyone! If you make nothing else, do try the Tiffin recipe..
One item that I’ve had requests for is my (well, Delia’s originally) delicious Stem Ginger Cake. Regular readers will know that this cake changes it’s coat with the seasons – from Easter to a Christmas version in no time flat! http://eatingforireland.com/recipe/preserved-ginger-cake-with-lemon-icing/
We’ll be making one for ourselves too, as it holds the record of being the only Christmas Cake of mine that never made it to New Year’s Eve..
Another huge favourite is the only Nigella Lawson recipe that’s ever worked for me.. Her luscious Chocolate Christmas Cake..
The best thing – ok, one of the best things – about this cake is that you can make it on Christmas Eve without worrying about feeding it, wrapping it, putting it in a cold place for 6 months etc..
It’s the darkest cake ever – it’s got chocolate in it – and I like it with the Mascarpone icing, as in that really old picture above – even if the icing only lasts for 3 days. But of course you can give it a coat of ready-rolled fondant icing, if that’s your thing. Either way, it’s my must-have Christmas Cake, and a quarter sent home to someone is always appreciated.
This is my plan for sharing my Christmas with the people I love who can’t be with me this year. Of course, Christmas eating isn’t all about sweet stuff – there are many savoury recipes on my website – www.eatingforireland.com – in case you’ve forgotten!
Don’t forget those great stand0by Christmas gifts – my Christmas Version of the Irish Tea brack – perfect for cold winter afternoons with a big cup of tea!
I’m going to try to get out for a walk every day; this is one of my favourite times of year, as long as it’s not raining (I’m a fair weather walker!) I love the light in the Winter..
So here’s a wish from my home to yours, no matter how far away –
Good health to us; Good friends to us; Good food to us, for Christmas and every day.
Thank you for your kind and supportive words – always appreciated, but particularly so this strange and difficult year.
Mr Sat. Night sends his best wishes too!