“’Twas the night before Christmas, when all thro’ the house
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse”.
If you’ve watched the Christmas cookery shows, bought all the magazines or, like me, crafted the most photogenic Pinterest board of all the festive treats and gifts you intend to make, it’s easy to picture yourself living your best life and enjoying an Instagram-worthy Christmas.
One where all your guests arrive, on time and in colour coordinated outfits; where everyone gifts each other homemade chutneys and sloe gin; the table decorated with lovingly crafted wreaths and candles. The turkey will be an organic, free range and rare breed, basted in organic salted butter, whilst the vegetables were collected from the farmers market the day before.
The children will play nicely, nothing will need batteries and Aunt Jemima definitely won’t have two many sherries and start telling you again how Trump is right.
Sound familiar? No, me neither because my name isn’t Nigella, Mary, Martha or even Jamie. Instead we did our big shop at Asda, my Pavolva will probably crack and end up an Eton Mess, and we’ll definitely forget to cook the pigs in blankets. Again. For the 6th year in a row.
But do you know what? I couldn’t give a figgy pudding! Christmas can be loud and stressful – you’re forced to interact with people you may not see for the remaining 11 months of the year, cooking complicated dishes you’d never dare attempt the rest of the year, listening to music you hate and with free access to A LOT of alcohol. Things may (will) get messy.
I can’t do much about your relatives but I am hearby giving you permission to chill the fuck out and be kind to yourself. Never normally make a roast dinner? This is not the time to start, not with a turkey – a notoriously fickle beast that can be rendered dry and tasteless if you so much as look at it the wrong way. Change it up and buy a joint of beef, which is much more forgiving. Go get yourself some frozen veg and some instant gravy if you must. Or sod the lot and skip straight to the best bit – Boxing Day food. Make a curry, dig out the party food and enjoy watching the Queen’s speech in your pyjamas with a jalfrezi.
Ask for help if you need it, accept help when it is offered, especially if it’s washing up . Don’t worry about whether your table insta-worthy, it’ll be covered in splatters of mashed potato soon enough. The kids will tear the wrapping to shreds so don’t panic if it isn’t pristine. And if you do end up dropping your pavlova, who cares? Dish some ice cream up from the freezer, pour some Baileys on top for an instant pud.
Somehow, I think even Nigella would approve of that one.