It'll be turkey on Christmas Day - I'm making chestnut and sausage stuffing, my lovely roast potatoes (I hope they'll be lovely!), lots of other bits and pieces and chocolate prune and armangnac pudding with rum butter. It's my first Christmas Day in my own home with just us and the kids. My first Christmas day where I'm in charge instead of my mother. And I'm excited. I want it to be perfect.
We're off to stay with my mum, my brother and sister, their partners and my four small nephews on Boxing Day - and that'll be lovely too. The kids all adore each other; seven cousins aged between 7 and 6 months, with another coming in March, will certainly make for chaos. Proper family chaos that's for sure!
Due to my German heritage, Christmas Eve is important to us too. We exchange our presents entirely on Christmas Eve around a tree festooned with lit candles (try buying the tree candle holders anywhere in this country..... I've had to resort to ebay!), and we eat bockwurst and potato salad with rollmops. I'm not making the Stollen though - that's still the domain of my mum who makes perfect batches - I hope enough to take one home for us. We have a magical Christmas angel who comes to light the candles on the tree when it gets dark while the kids outside the room press their ears to the door to see if they can hear her speak or catch a glimpse of her out of a window as she flies away. When I was a child, Father Christmas didn't figure at all in our Christmas, he was always a mystery to me really; but for my kids I've had to build him into the story -without Father Christmas things are too complicated at school and with their friends, so now he comes and leaves the stockings later on Christmas Eve. In that way we can leave a mince pie and a glass of whisky for Santa and a carrot for the reindeer.... and attempt to amalgamate the two traditions. I'm always confused though and have to remind myself who does what - when I was a child the Angel came back to leave the stocking!
I'm coming up to two years in remission. This year I'm going to a New Year's Eve party. I haven't felt able to since the diagnosis. Two years ago at Christmas I was going through radiotherapy -and due to my poor prognosis I had very little confidence that I would be around for the next Christmas. Last Christmas I was still hounded by profound anxiety and ill health. This Christmas I think I believe I might just be here for the next. That's progress for me. I think I can face this New Year with new optimism. Life's a scary business that's for sure.
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