Tuesday, 4 January 2011

Christmas 2: Christmas Harder (Part 2)

I fear that I have  been neglecting my blog of late and as such this has probably tried theopatience of many of my most loyal readers who now feel they lack the necessary tools required on their journey to ultimate chap-dom (or chapesse-dom if your are a woman)!

However, fear not my dear chums for I am back this year and the posts this year promise to be better than ever! And where better to start than with the final part of my Christmas adventures…

I didn’t hear the sleigh bells as I fell asleep on Christmas Eve but upon waking I was greeted in the kitchen by my mother with a glass of champagne and the usual courtesies of Christmas Day greetings. And then I saw what I had been waiting for all year…a bag full of beautifully wrapped presents. Now, don’t get me wrong I also look forward to the food, the booze and the company of relationships but there is something magical about the Christmas stocking (or department store bag in my case), it instantly takes you back to your childhood. Although the spud guns, crazy foam, Aladin VHS and sweets have been replaced by books, dvds, alcohol and clothing the sentiment is still the same and before too long I had opened each package and was surveying the spoils of victory!

Sadly there was no time to play with my newly acquired trinkets as I was informed that soon we were both expected at the main house in order to aid my aunt with preparations and to keep my dear granny from interfering in the cooking of the celebratory lunch. So carefully making our way down to the house over the icy drive we entered into the Christmas spirit.

On arrival my uncle thrust another glass of champagne into my hand and were served some delicious canapés by my cousins before my aunt instructed us to keep granny entertained at the card table until the cooking had been finished. So setting up the table and unwrapping a fresh deck of cards cousins and grandmother sat down to a mammoth game of Hearts: a simple game with the objective of getting rid of your cards and scoring as little as possible. I have never been very good at board games despite being quite adept at playing them, whilst I started well I was no match for my cousin’s logical, tactical playing and soon I was trailing with an embarrassingly high score. Taunts, boasts and jibes were exchanged across the table and whilst my granny disapproved of the large number of milder swear words which flew around she took it with reasonable humour and a good time was had by all.

The champagne had flowed all morning before we sat down to a lunch of succulent turkey, salty ham, bacon and chestnut stuffing, sprouts, braised carrots, crisp potatoes, golden parsnips, sweet potatoes, piquant red cabbage, sausages, bacon, gravy and of course lashings of bread sauce. The wine as per was excellent and we had so much that some of the bottles blur into each other although I do remember a seminal 1983 Sauterne produced at pudding and a 61 year old port which I had supplied myself (a I would supply the greater part to my gullet over the course of the afternoon/evening. Of course there was Christmas pudding, dates, tangerines, nuts and some very ripe cheese which we tentatively nibbled after a huge meal.

With the coffee and yet more booze came the moment in which we exchange presents. Having asked most of my friends how they give and receive their gifts at home I am met with the usual hunter gathered tales where presents are collected and ripped open with varying degrees of speed. My cousin and I felt that we would jazz the process up this year and using the card table created a bizarre job interview style of presents where the giver sat at the card table with their gifts calling the receivers up to the table one by one, forcing them to open the presents at the table one by one in front of the assembled guests. I cannot describe some of the priceless looks, faces, underhand jibes and japes uttered by the congregations but they will be fondly remembered and I hope the process s repeated next year.

I got a great haul from my relations and so there was no need for me to be outraged or incredulous. The pop of another champagne cork indicated that the party was not going to end soon and topping up our glasses, my two cousins, my other and myself started on an epic hearts game which occupied us to the rest of the even as we digested our food, picked at leftovers and sang along to a range of Christmas hits before it was implied that we needed to keep down our cat-a-walling as it was 1 in the morning and decent people needed to get some sleep!

Heading back to the lodge I decided to toast what was a fantastic Christmas with a nip of the delicious Laphroaig that I had up at the lodge and settled down to reap the whirlwind of my indulgence! Let me just say that getting out of bed on Boxing Day morning was closer to falling than alighting!

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