Once again, the ten days or so between my card-writing day and Christmas Eve seem to have whizzed past. I don't quite know where they've gone. I didn't think I had all that much to do, but I hardly seem to have sat down.
On Thursday a week ago, we hosted a sort of pre-Christmas get-together lunch for Richard's colleagues and their families. So as that was our first Christmas event, I suggested we put our tree up the night before. Richard got it down and assembled it, and I did a bit of decorating. We don't go overboard on Christmas decorations. An understatement if ever there was one. But we put up our old faithful tree, now about twenty years old, and a few favourite hanging ornaments, and throw a bit of tinsel around the place.
The tree looks quite pretty when its lit up, though it's hard to get a photo that works:
The meal went well, everyone bringing plenty of food, but by the end I was exhausted.
A day or two later, I put the marzipan layer on the Christmas cake. I gave up on the nicer tasting Cypriot almond paste and bought a pack of British marzipan, since it rolls so much more easily. The cake is put on it, upside down:
Then I turned it over, trimmed the edges, and it was done:
I didn't ice it until yesterday, and haven't yet taken a photo of the finished product. Perhaps I will tomorrow before we cut into it.
By Monday we were wondering whether or not our visitors from the UK would be able to make it. Heavy snow meant that many British airports were closing for hours at a time, and we read of chaos for holiday travellers. I really don't know why so many people get excited about the idea of a white Christmas. I suppose a gentle fall of snow in the afternoon can be pretty, when lunch is finished and families are sitting around the fireside. But freezing temperatures for a week before Christmas mean families can't get together, parcels are delayed, food is in short supply, heating bills are high, and the homeless will have a totally miserable time.
Still, I thought we should probably get our usual poinsettia, so we went out to our local plant shop, and got a smallish one for the table in the living room:
I wanted some bedding plants too, so we bought a few petunias, and I decided to try a small poinsettia outside too, wondering if it might last longer than our indoor ones have done:
Then, instead of cleaning the guest flat as I intended to do on Monday afternoon, I spent my time re-potting various of our large plants, and cleaning the front porch.
So it was Tuesday when I finally tidied and cleaned the guest flat, and made up the bed, still hoping my brother and his wife would get here. They were flying from Heathrow on Wednesday, and Tim was flying from Birmingham. By Tuesday night, Tim was pretty sure he wouldn't even make it to the airport, since ten inches of snow was predicted overnight.
But he kept in touch via his phone... he took off half an hour late, but compared to the recent chaos in airports, that seemed like a miracle. My brother and his wife were about half an hour late. So by Wednesday evening we were all together!
So I've been cooking, and shopping, and chatting, and playing games... today we went to Metro at 8.30am - it wasn't at all crowded - to pick up the turkey, which Tim stuffed and cooked this afternoon. Richard's carved it, and it's i the fridge waiting to be re-heated for lunch tomorrow.
Of course we had to close the sliding doors to the kitchen/dining room area while Richard was carving:
Cleo kept out of the way, but was just as interested in the nice smells:
I made 46 mince pies and some more lemonade; Tim has peeled a small mountain of potatoes.
Tonight Tim's playing at the midnight service at St Helena's; I don't do late nights, otherwise I'd go too. But he's also playing at the 10am service in the morning, so I shall go to that.
Most of the family are watching a DVD right now, but I decided it would be better to clean the kitchen, and then sit down for half an hour at the computer.