Mistletoe and wine!! - Susan Catford

It’s that time of the year again. We are already into December, the supermarkets have been playing Christmas music for weeks and we are all being urged to sparkle!

No matter how commercial it is with Black Fridays that last for days (and Black Mondays etc.) and competing Christmas advertisements, it is still undoubtedly a special time of year. Somehow those Christmas lights on long dark nights and the anticipation of it all, create a warmth and optimism that this year will be better.

I have been considering, as you do, one of the old favourites The Twelve Days of Christmas. If my true love gave me a partridge in a pear tree on day one, there would be little chance of the relationship lasting to day two! However, the five gold rings might prove successful. The thought of Amazon attempting to deliver eight geese a-laying with ‘LEAVE BY THE BACK DOOR’ instruction is an interesting one! Now mistletoe and wine conjure up a far more attractive image, definitely to my taste.

Over the years we have had many lovely Christmases but we have had some turkey incidents along the way. We used to have free-range turkeys delivered to our door at great expense because the in-laws had to have only the best. After the obligatory sherry and numerous Dubonnet and gin aperitifs, no-one particularly noticed the quality of the turkey. We decided that a frozen one would be much cheaper but we would have to pretend it was fresh. This meant defrosting it discretely the day before and the only place we could do that was in our en-suite shower. We managed to smuggle it upstairs and it sat in the shower overnight. The next morning we were met by a scene reminiscent of Hitchcock’s Psycho!! We then had to get it back downstairs and into the fridge unwrapped so it would appear to be the real thing! Needless to say no-one seemed to notice the turkey was of a different pedigree. The following year we had an oven malfunction on Christmas Day. It was either cold or an inferno – not good for roasting a turkey. We had no option but to go with the inferno then eat only the bits of turkey that were neither charcoal or raw. We survived! The next year (with oven sorted) I decided to be organised and order a turkey (fresh this time) from our local supermarket. I rolled up on Christmas Eve to find they had lost my order. Only two turkeys remained, a small one and a twenty pounder. It had to be the latter but the good news was I got it for half price. It didn’t do much for my blood pressure though.

Last year, amidst all the speculation about a turkey shortage, I again bought a frozen bird well ahead. Alas, Covid put paid to us enjoying a turkey dinner but fortunately it went to a good home. Friends who were having trouble obtaining a turkey came to collect it and a very strange exchange involving social distancing, masks and hand sanitiser took place! In spite of our past history, hopefully we will get to enjoy a turkey this year.

So Christmas is on the horizon again. The decs only made it to the loft in June for a number of reasons and already they need to come down again. The man of the house is bracing himself for the annual ritual of locating and untangling the outdoor lights before spending several hours with freezing fingers up a ladder. But it will be worth it!! The village will suddenly become a more tasteful, miniature version of Blackpool lights and the dark lanes will be ablaze with colour and brightness. Our route to the pub will be well lit!!

Out and about the shops are sparkling and the town is illuminated with Christmas lights. Having to wear masks may be a nuisance but it will not stop us enjoying our shopping expeditions. It is a time of optimism but we have all learnt to be cautious too. Cliff will be singing about mistletoe and wine again and there will be rocking around the Christmas tree. So bring on the wine but, for now, mistletoe will still be on my red list. Wishing you all a very happy and healthy Christmas.