WELL, THAT'S SUMMER OVER for another year, the summer clothes are now packed away for their annual reappearance next year. The heating's on and now that Strictly and X-Factor have kicked off, Winter's on its way.
My favourite time of year, I make endless lists of Christmas cooking to do and pressies to buy and made my Xmas cake this weekend – which will be liberally fed with brandy as the weeks go on (my Christmas recipes begin at the weekend so you can follow the step-by-step process and build up towards a merry and delicious Christmas every week).
I absolutely love planning and making and baking for Xmas and go for the full Monty, making my own mincemeat, Xmas puds, Advocat, homemade chocolates, pies and pickles. Yip I’m mad... but there’s nothing better than the smells from the oven and my cheesy music playing as I bag up countless mincemeat pies for the freezer (maybe with a glass or two - Ed.).
Standing doing a monumental ironing the other day I was amazed by the countless day time advertisements asking for donations for cats, dogs, whales, tigers, snow leopards etc. – the new one being Save a Donkey and suggested giving a sponsored donkey to family and friends this Xmas. Now my kids love animals as much as anyone but a sponsored donkey might be a step to far...
Trying to spread the cost of Christmas, as most people do, you have to use your October and November salaries to ensure you're not brassic by December – and God bless Amazon and the rest so that doing online shopping makes it so much easier. You order exactly what you want, and no matter how obscure the request they always seem to have it, much better than trailing round shops for hours on end.
Of course people scream about the commercialism of it all but it's consumer choice in the end and I love seeing the Christmas food coming into stores with the cheesy Xmas music playing in the background. I do draw the line however in purchasing the now fashionable Xmas sweater which gets more and more horrendous as the years go on, but I suppose that’s the point of it all.
My trees (yes more than one...) go up early December and it’s lovely to smell the pine round the house, not so lovely as when the pines along with the baubles fall off over the season, but it builds the excitement of the few days where everyone has the spirit of goodwill, have no guilt in eating calorie-laden food and drinking unashamedly from lunchtime on.
Everyone has their own family traditions and mine are no different, from my lovely Xmas memories as a child which have now been passed on to my children. Absolutely no presents are opened on Xmas eve despite being begged every year. There it's the knocking on the door on Xmas morning to see if Santa’s been and Bucks Fizz as we open our gifts.
My husband gamely requests a non traditional meal every year but is shouted down as Turkey with all its trimmings wins again...
I have lists already that through the coming month will get longer and by November will be in triplicate.
Of course Christmas is for children, although my 36-year-old daughter insists at this one time of year she’s still a child, I think now she’s stretching it a bit, and this year I have my darling 16-month-old grandson staying. But I have to say this season brings out the children in all of us, it’s a happy time of year and by God with all the horrible things that have happened in the world thus far I think we all need it.
Photo: Edinburgh City Chambers quad in the snow, 19 December 2010