It was a pleasant Christmas. We thought it would be a hectic morning but in fact we were all up and dressed by 8am, so we opened all our presents then. It was good having my mother staying - it's the first time we've had a house-guest over Christmas, although we always get together with friends for lunch. Dan had to be at church by 8.30 for music practice, then our service was at 9am and the Anglican service (which Tim and my mother attended) at 9.30am. Very early: usually Christmas Day services are at 10am, but this year they decided to go for regular Sunday times since Christmas was a Sunday. Of course it did give us more time afterwards to get all the food organised, so it wasn't a bad thing.
There were 12 of us sitting down to lunch on Christmas Day. After much family discussion we decided to cook the turkey on Christmas Eve so we could make roast potatoes to go with it on Christmas Day; our oven isn't very big and the turkey we'd ordered was 9kg. Richard then carved it into a large roasting pan (white meat on one side, red on the other, stuffing in the middle) and laid some of the skin over it to keep it most. Then I put foil over the whole thing and it went in the fridge overnight. It took just under an hour to reheat fully on Christmas Day, and was beautifully moist. It saves so much hassle (no getting up early to put it on, no worries about whether it would be cooked through, no waiting around while it was carved) that we'll probably repeat this next year even if by then we have a double oven.
Our menu (if anyone's remotely interested in traditional British Christmas lunch) was the turkey with two types of home-made stuffing, sausages, roast potatoes, brussels sprouts, steamed cauliflower, stir-fried cabbage-with-cumin, and home-made cranberry sauce. Oh, and a nut roast for my vegetarian son. In addition one of the families eating with us brought a sweet potato casserole and a brussels sprout dish with lemon. Of course there was lots over at the end. For dessert we had Christmas pudding with brandy sauce, mince pies, and a loquat fool I made with some puree frozen in the spring. The other visiting family brought an apple crumble. And there were a few clementine oranges too. Unfortunately there don't seem to be any satsumas in the shops at present. We much prefer those as they're seedless.
In the afternoon various people did music jamming together, some of the younger boys (12-15) played with some new toys and our ancient Scalextric, some of us did a complicated two-sided puzzle, some just chatted. Later on we played a difficult word game that was too much for my rather tired brain, so I opted out.
In the evening, out came some leftovers, some veggie sausage rolls I made the day before, the Christmas cake I made in November, and various salads and nibbles that our guests had brought with us. Oh, and some fudge Tim made. Not that any of us were really very hungry... I even managed to take a picture of the table before we ate in the evening:
On Boxing Day the boys arranged for three of their friends to come over in the afternoon, one of them bringing his laptop. They borrowed one of Richard's office computers too, and managed to network together five computers in all, to play a game against each other. I gather it was something like the American game 'Capture the flag', which is a bit like a British 'wide game'. All in the comfort of the dining room.
Then in the evening, Tim asked me to put my computer to sleep so he could do some important surgery on it. A little worrying when he got out the vacuum cleaner prior to operating...
... and even worse when he said, with clear enjoyment, how much he LIKES gutting computers. Gutting? I thought it was just having a few improvements...
But by that stage he told me it was (effectively) open heart surgery.
For anyone who cares (and has read this far) what he actually did was to remove the second hard drive and the graphics card and the processor from their desktop computer, and swap them for the smaller processor and graphics card from my computer.
Why such altruism to give me a fast machine with a 40 gig hard drive when I was just fine with a slower one and a 9 gig drive? Well there were two reasons. One: both boys now have MAC laptops, which they bought in the Autumn, so they barely use their desktop computer. It has a Linux drive anyway which is still there. They both felt that my computer should be upgraded since it's the most-used desktop machine in the house. However they knew I think along the lines of, 'If it ain't broke, don't fix it'.
But, not knowing this, I said idly one day recently that I wondered if the game Sims2 would fit on my computer. Richard had no idea what to buy me for Christmas, and I always enjoyed the original Sims game though I haven't played it for at least two years. Richard discussed it with the boys, and they came up with this plan to upgrade my computer and downgrade theirs, for the sole purpose (from my point of view) of being able to instal and run Sims2. And I was given it for Christmas. Something totally 'silly', unpractical, unwearable, un-useful... but potentially very enjoyable for us all. And I'm determined not to get hooked on it!