On Christmas morning, at 7.30, I shall execute the first manoeuvre of a meticulously planned strategic operation that has no room for error.
I shall pre-heat the oven and get the ball rolling for the preparation and cooking of the Christmas dinner.
For us it is important to have family together as often as is practical, especially at this time of year; like many others who have lost close members of the family, it is a time to embrace what short periods we actually have together, and which will be undoubtedly ripped away from us at some point.
With this in mind, we are hosting Christmas dinner and tea. I shall be cooking for the 13 of us and as such I have formulated a timetable of when different foods need to be cooked etc.
I’ll not go into the exact times, suffice to say that following a prawn cocktail starter, there will be turkey, roast: potatoes, sweet potatoes, carrots, parsnips; mash, peas, sprouts, braised cabbage, stuffing and piggies-in-blankets. (I’m sure to have missed something!)
Hopefully there will be no jostling for seats at the table as I carve the bird using a new technique; I’ve been studying Mr Oliver recently for some tips!
As for the seating, a friend of mine told me that at their Christmas dinner, everyone rushed for a seat that was as far from a certain aunt as possible, due to the all too common repercussions of too many sprouts!
I bought most of the food in dribs and drabs throughout October and November, picking up the final bits over the past couple of weeks, which is when the familiar types of shopper appeared; as the volume of customers increased, so did their pace down the aisles and level of desperation.
While not fully set in, there were clear signs that there may well be some pugilistic action should the shelves become barren of Wensleydale with cranberries or scenes reminiscent of Black Friday as the last tin of squirty cream is grabbed.
With a bit of luck all shall go to plan. Delia’s guide will ensure the turkey is cooked and Jamie’s technique will mean everyone gets a good slice or two of it.
Whether it goes perfectly or not doesn’t really matter; what I do know is that glasses shall be raised to absent friends, laughter by both adults and children will be heard and for that one day at least, little else will matter. I hope you all have a very merry Christmas and a happy new year. Cheers!