It is just after 3.30pm here in an icy England, and I have finally packed the food mixer away. Time to sit down and relax, and remember why we celebrate Christmas.
However, this morning has not gone smoothly. Oh no, it has not. I have had a Bad Kitchen Day. To start with, for some bizarre reason, the cinnamon cake took nearly 20 mins longer to cook than normal. I have no idea what I may or may not have done wrong. It looks ok, but has yet to be sampled.
Then I discovered that I had bought copious amounts of baking powder, and had totally forgotten the bicarb. So off we shot to the local supermarket, which closely resembled Chaos. I saw an old man lying in the road. He had fallen on the ice, which is lethal today. Cars whizzed round him and no-one stopped. People everywhere seemed more intent on getting their shopping done, or grabbign a parking place, so I stopped on the double yellow line and my stick and I got out. He was a large man. And bless her cotton socks, a little old lady who looked at least 110, hobbled over with her stick and the 2 of us levered him up onto his feet. I was not viewing the local populace with a great deal of Christmas spirit at that exact moment.
Home again, after delivering walking sticks to a friend for the shepherds to use in the Crib Service at church. You will be delighted to hear that Mary will be riding a donkey down the aisle. A hobby horse, who, if you press the button on his ear, sings the theme tune for the Lone Ranger. I suspect the Crib service is going to be a classic.
And I popped the loaf of bread in the oven. After adding the bicarb. Completely forgetting the grill was on. So 45 minutes later, it was charcoal. Start over again, and this time it looked splendid. Until I prised it out of the tin and broke it in half.
Sigh. It did not get better.
Ice cream. Mum's ice cream. You need to chill the evaporated milk, which I had done. Whip till it gets to the right thickness, and drizzle in the condensed milk and vanilla. WRONG. The condensed milk was solid caramel. Well, that was when I discovered the tin was best before 2004. Back in the car, off to the local supermarket. Again. Ice. Queues. By the time I got home, the milk had warmed and collapsed, so it is a disaster. In the freezer, but I hold no great hopes for its recovery.
I have since replenished the cookie tin. We had almost run out of chocolate dipped custies. Then the chocolate did not harden.
I have now retired from the kitchen. Enough is enough.
None of the above is important though. It is already Christmas Day in New Zealand, and it is not long till we wrap up warm and head down to the Carol Service. We all want everything to be perfect for our families. For there to be plentiful food. For memories to be made, and for laughter to ring out in our homes. For families to gather together.
There are many for whom this will be a difficult, maybe lonely time. Many are far from their loved ones. Many will be hurting. Many will go hungry and some will be overwhelmed by sadness.
What I want to suggest is that we all keep our eyes open, and SEE and recognise those who may need to be loved this Christmas. The King of Love is the birthday boy tomorrow. The greatest gift we could give Him would be to share the love we have in our hearts because of Him, with those who need it most. Nothing should get in the way of that, my friends. Nothing.
MERRY CHRISTMAS, EVERYBODY!!!!!!