When it comes to big events, I like to hold my nerve as long as I can before I start panicking. It's a strange thing, but almost everyone who knows me seems to think I'm calm and laid back. But inside I feel I'm exactly the opposite. It's a strange dichotomy. I'm not sure how I come across in this space. Calm? Frantic? Nervy with a light edge of hysteria? I find myself saying, "YOU HAVE GOT TO BE KIDDING" quite frequently. But on the whole I can usually see the bigger picture enough to keep a tenuous grip on things. Right now I'm in the nerve holding phase of Christmas. Any minute now I'll break into the panic phase, I can feel it coming on.
I made mince pies this week, but they've almost all been eaten now. That's the trouble with festive baking isn't it. The tree is up and decorated. I've had Christmas cards from Christina and Sara, and Christina sent a sweet little crochet star that I've put on the mantelpiece. I've got those nice oranges that come with leaves on at this time of year. It fools me into thinking that they're nice and fresh from the tree.
Christmas reading includes Nigella's "Feast" for the seasonal recipes and Joanne Harris's "Lollipop Shoes", the sequel to "Chocolat". It's made me a bit obsessed about chocolate, she writes so beguilingly about it. I've written down a truffle recipe in my notebook as well as Sue's recipe for florentines. The biggest boy has requested a Bruce Bogtrotter's cake. It's from our Roald Dahl recipe book. I'm an absolute sucker for this kind of cookery book. I've bought the Winnie the Pooh one for the littlest boy for Christmas and I've had the Moomin one from the library too, it's excellent. I think it helps me live in a fantasy world of rabbit holes and Scandinavian adventures. I've perfected the art of avoiding reality when required.
I'm also reading Jostein Gaarder's "The Christmas Mystery" to the little people, one chapter a day during advent. It's lovely to have a book that stretches out nicely over December. Are there any others like this? I don't know, but I shall look out for one.
On the gift front I've managed to avoid the shops, and we had another lovely walk on Saturday, miles from the busy places. Father Christmas has been ordering online, but there's been a little snafu with the skates that you will recall the littlest boy requested. FC, in a moment of festive absent-mindedness, ordered the wrong size - the size that would fit the middle boy. I made discreet enquiries of the middle boy. Did he fancy skates for Christmas? He couldn't think of anything before, so he'd decided to have money so that when something catches his eye he could have that. He's a lot like me, he agonises over every choice. I'm the one who stands in the toothpaste aisle at the supermarket for twenty minutes paralysed by indecision. Anyway, he gave it some thought and decided that he didn't know if he wanted skates or not, so he wouldn't have any, but if he did want some later he could buy some. So FC returned the skates and crossed his fingers that the replacements would turn up in time to avoid disappointment. Two days later I had a conversation that went something like this. "Mummy?" "Yes sweetie?" "You know you asked if I wanted skates for Christmas?" "Yes..." "I've decided I would like some please." FC has spent some time on the phone today trying to sort it all out. There is a distinct possibility we'll end up with three pairs, not all from the same place. It's too complicated to go into, but no doubt you've had these exact moments yourself, you know how it goes.
The next time I write I'll have moved into the panic phase. You have been warned. CJ xx