Don’t Drop Christmas

There comes a point in the run-up to Christmas when one doubts one’s hold on events.

So many little juggling balls in the air, and only two hands to propel them; one needs to be the perfect jongleur. It would be such a shame, would it not, to drop Christmas?

This morning was Big Al and The Princess’s morning. My four-year old nephew and Β his sisters fell incendiarily through the door right on time.

Al announced he was hungry.

Oh, jolly good, I thought thankfully: that’ll kill a couple of minutes. He sat down and devoured a bowl of sweet cereal of doubtful nutritional value. Then he asked for toast and I crossed off five more minutes of blissful gainful employment for this, my beloved tornado of a nephew.

So there I was with a houseful of children, and several other juggling balls in the air.

The main one being the ongoing saga of Philip Shrewsday’s Very Important Victorian Christmas Pudding Project.

Phil wants to make a real Victorian christmas pudding: in the iron garden stove. It takes six hours to boil, in a muslin square.

The initial fervour had settled into a grim resolve: we knew we must find muslin with which to wrap the pudding, and wood with which to cook the pudding for six hours, and sumptuous ingredients which cost the earth.

Meanwhile, another pressing juggling ball was in the air: the need to entertain the hordes.

There were children haring about and Al was reintroducing himself to our senile old cat, with characteristically less than noble intent. The children were talking about making milkshake, a recipe for chaos; and the animals were looking sheepish in the face of a full-on frontal adoration session by Al.

So: Phil proposed a little light child labour.

Why didn’t we all tumble into the forest with lots of big bags and collect wood for the fire needed to cook the pudding?

We took a vote: trek to the sweetie shop past a grade A playground, or go wood collecting. The latter won by a landslide. A wellington boot corralling session later, we were in the forest. Children could be seen staggering around with huge bags of firewood, albeit soggy. They were delighted.

But they could not carry the wood forever. And after 40 minutes walking, Al was very tired indeed, and a bit muddy after a fall, and riding along on my shoulders, so I was no help to anyone. Phil must bear the burden of all that wood.

And then the dog went AWOL.

We had made the mistake of wandering past the pheasant field without tethering him. Macaulay adores the pheasant field. Lots of huge squawking foolish birds who can only just hoist themselves into the air.

He got into the field and the world went away, and there we were, five children, two adults and the equivalent of a large tree in carrier bags, dogless.

Phil and the wood waited: the rest of us trogged home for hot chocolate.

Jacket potatoes and fillings for dinner. The dog, now present once more, helped.

Al declared that this was not a very nice dinner at all: and I informed him that if he did not eat said horrible dinner, not only would there be no pudding, but Al would not be able to go upstairs at all.

Upstairs is where the great toys are. The dinner disappeared in a trice. Al’s parents arrived and our numbers shrank from seven to four.

Al’s mum suggested cannily that all her children’s old comfort blankets are made from muslin. We were one step nearer the pudding.

A trip to Ascot later, all the ingredients were procured. We stood at pudding DEFCON 2.

We had tea, bath, and telly time in our bedroom which forms the hub of our evenings.

As we sat watching some festive programme or other, Phil walked in wafting the grand scent of brandy around. He held a large mixing bowl.

“Now that,” he announced to his wife and two delighted children, “is Christmas.”

Inside was all the dried fruit needed for the pudding, steeped in brandy, cinnamon, nutmeg and spice.

Everyone had a sniff. The children sniffed obediently and then protested noisily that it smelt horrible: but when I took a waft I had to admit that he was, indeed, holding Christmas.

And the kids were rolling around laughing and protesting, and I was trying to say how good it smelt, and Phil was stirring jovially, supplying a flamboyant commentary.

And then he dropped it.

Pounds of fabulous fruit, soaking in brandy, due to plump up during the night all shot out of the bowl onto the floor.

Whereupon, sympathetically, the entire family burst out laughing.

Because of course, like the perfect jongleur, Daddy had dropped Christmas.

58 thoughts on “Don’t Drop Christmas

  1. Oh no! What a great tale πŸ˜€
    I have a vision of you all rolling about the place while Macauley licks up Christmas, and then suffers terribly the next day.

    1. I read this our to everyone when you first posted it.They howled. The idea of Mac with a great Christmas hangover was almost too much to resist…and then I forgot to answer – apologies!

  2. Oh no! After all that effort! I completely sympathise with you about the mad rush. I love Christmas so much, but I always get in a panic because I don’t think I’ll get everything done in time. πŸ˜€ But since I’m reading half my subscriptions out of order in my pre-Christmas disorganisation and never know when I’m popping by next, I’d like to take this opportunity to wish you and your lovely family a wonderfully Merry Christmas and all the very best for the New Year! πŸ™‚

  3. Phil Pitt I can’t beleive you dropped the pudding !!! I would have cried. Christmas pudding is probably my favourite thing after the Turkey. Hope you are making more ??? I too make my own it that traditional way steaming for 6 hours and then another 3 – 4 on the day. So worth it when they come out dark and rich mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm……………..

  4. Poor Phil! Did he scoop it into the bin or back into the bowl? With all that alcohol, I can’t imagine many germs getting through – and I’m sure you have a spotless floor πŸ™‚

    Kids love the Great Outdors, so their choice didn’t surprise me. It’s just a shame there isn’t more outdoors around for kids to enjoy.

    1. I know – we are very lucky to have the forest behind….fruit was scooped, washed, sterilised and has since been marinating overnight in brandy and spices. It smells heavenly. And so does our bedroom, which has also been marinating overnight in brandy and spices. Let us hope Social do not come to call.

  5. Oh my! Poor Phil, but, to be honest, it does indeed paint a hilarious picture.
    Christmas is surely worth all the juggling we do to see everyone, do everything and enjoy all the good feelings of the season. You guys are doing it exactly the right way, taking two weeks of holiday to enjoy it all.
    As a reminder, Jello pudding pops are always available for those last minute fruit drops. πŸ™‚

  6. I do hope it was duly salvaged. I mean, all that work, effort and enthusiasm simply couldn’t be thrown away! I greatly admire the spirit in which it was done, too!
    I like the family spirit, too. Faced with a choice of clumping through a forest or going to somewhere like a mall, most modern kids would opt for the mall in a wink!

    1. I know- what was all that about? Still can’t work out why they all opted for the healthy forest adventure instead…Howsomever, they did. The wood’s soggy and we’ve just had a Herculean task in lighting it. It burneth merrily now though. Started at 12:25, finishes 6:25, just in time for our annual Christmas Lantern Party…

  7. Oh Kate, I”m not just grinning, I’m laughing out loud, which feels so good to do on a gloomy Wednesday here. All that brandy will take care of any old germ, but, the scent . . . that will surely bring glee each time it is smelt for all Christmases to come. I can hear it fifty years hence. Remember when Dad, Uncle Phil, etc. etc. dropped Christmas?

    I love your walk in the woods, for wood, those foolish pheasants and antsy Al and Phil’s determination to make the Christmas pudding. Comfort and joy, all (as well as that mess on the floor).

    1. Penny, you should have heard the guffaws when he first did it: and he was wailing dramatically “Oh, no! I’ve dropped Christmas!”…strangely the dog was nowhere to be seen. Must be a teetotaller.

  8. Huzzah! Delightful romp . . . glad that the fruit was resurrected. And that your sleeping chambers are redolent with holiday spice and spirits! πŸ˜€

    1. We’re weaving our way round the house with cheer if not our usual accuracy, Nancy πŸ˜€ Thanks for that link! Phil is stationed outside by the chimenea, which is stuffed with boiling pudding, and nothing, but nothing, will draw him away from its side….

    1. As are we, Andra: there’s a story to go down in our family history…the floor is carpeted, this being Britain. Mercifully we are just about to change it for a wooden one. Meanwhile: we fall asleep to the smell of brandy and cinnamon…

    1. Thanks Selena: just clocked your new website address! I’ve been gazing perplexed at your old site wondering how to find you: and now, here you are. Thank you πŸ™‚ Have a wonderful holiday.

    1. It was taken out about half an hour ago, Earlybird. I took lots of photos and asked tentatively after it. Phil said, and I quote: “When I pokes it, it poked back.”

      I am too timorous to enquire further. I think I would rather not know the outcome for just a little longer.

  9. Oh, good grief… it’s like a wonderful, awful moment from a holiday movie… poor Phil. Glad to read onwards that the pudding efforts continue.

    And it sounds as if the wafting smell of brandied fruits should reach the North American east coast by Christmas Day!

    1. Depend on it, Cameron. Probably before. With great ceremony the pudding was cooked today. It came out looking soggy and grey about half an hour ago. Most unpreposessing. But you know what they say: never judge a pud by its cover….

  10. I expect I too would have burst out laughing – after a shocked pause. Poor Phil, but I see he got right back up on his horse again… πŸ™‚

  11. This is delightful and will surely go down as an all-time favorite tale in the Shrewsday family history. πŸ™‚

    Laughed and laughed and, reading all the subsequent comments, I’m still laughing. Happy that the ingredients were salvaged, and the pudding properly steamed and awaiting its formal presentation on Christmas Day.

    1. It looks suspiciously impressive, Karen, sitting there on the working surface well out of dogshot. I keep thinking: what’s the catch? What has it got waiting for us on Christmas Day?

      There’s only one way to find out.

  12. An excellent tale, Kate. The Man Who Dropped Christmas sounds like a filum. Speccy’s hilarious vision could be the sequel “The Dog That Ate Christmas.”

    I always liked giving the kids proper jobs like the Victorians did. Make ’em collect wood, bring in the coal, go down the pit, stuff them up a chimney or two with a stiff brush. They’ll thank you for it later. πŸ™‚

    1. Quite, Jan. Nothing like a bit of hard labour to form the character. The Dog Who Ate Christmas: there is still time, as Mac’s non-verbal language reminds us.Your comment made us all laugh out loud here.

  13. LOL, after all that.

    I do hope the experiment has now succeeded, and that the Shrewsday Christmas Pud is the one everyone remembers with delight for years to come.

    Maybe it will become a family legend?

    Or just a standard recipe to boil on the stove top.

  14. Oh Kate! NO! I was sitting right there with you and the children smelling that delicious fruit and brandy mixture–salivating! And I just laughed along with your entire day! I love a good Big Al story anyway, but today’s was just delightful. At the end of such a day, I don’t know how you have time to write a thing–I’d just drop right into bed! It IS nearly time for me to go to bed, and I am so happy I read this post tonight–you’ve just given me such a chuckle! Debra

    1. Thank you Debra πŸ™‚ The writing is me-time: once the kids have had their story I jump into bed, open the laptop, and write. This one, as you may well imagine, wrote itself.

    1. He would have been staggering around on his four little paws singing “Show me the way to go home, BB πŸ˜€ But we feel he’s a teetotaller: he gave the whole thing a wide berth.

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