I like Christmas. It’s the one annual consumer festivity I’ve given a “leave pass” to. The others tend to get the bah! humbug! treatment from me.
I think my love affair with Christmas started at an early age, as it was the organiser in me that got to kick into overdrive. Not only was there cooking, decorating and crafting to do but since the grown ups in the house found Christmas a chore I pretty much got to take over.
- A gift list of who to buy for and how much to spend and I did the shopping,
- Write & send Christmas cards for family and friends,
- Tidy, put up the tree and decorate the house,
- Select and bake each year’s additional breads and desserts,
- Perfectly wrap all the presents while carols by candlelight serenades the household in the background.
Yeah, that was me…
It should come as no surprise that as an adult I now take this time of year very seriously. I have a routine that is a healthy balance between enjoyment and insanity/anxiety. I consider it to be healthy anyway, “a fly on the wall” might question this assessment.
The tree MUST go up on December 1st. I’m a collector in nature and I’ve been collecting Christmas ornaments for a long time now. Some years ago I was gifted a box of lovely vintage glass ornaments that my nanna brought to Australia with her, on the boat in 1954. There are about 50 of these that I adore. Their colours fit beautifully with the other ornaments I had been slowly acquiring and with those I have continued to add (one to five a year) since receiving my nanna’s highly appreciated gift.
I love to bake and at some point in time it became tradition for me to start baking gifts. I’m not sure when this began but the gingerbread biscuit recipe I adapted was from a December 1999 Gourmet Traveller. Now these gingerbread biscuits have developed a bit of a following (not bragging, being serious) in that I get requests for them right throughout the year. I even have a friend that sometimes asks for “just some gingerbread biscuits” for his mid-year birthday! I find this all a bit strange, as gingerbread really isn’t my thing but each to their own.
The other items that have over time become part of the Christmas baking staples would be shortbread (specifically a hazelnut shortbread variation), panforte, fruit mince pies with a twist and more recently nut brittle. There are additional recipes I throw in on occasion that can rotate in and out plus “on the day” or for a party there might be a berry trifle or spiced cupcakes to share.
At a later stage to the gift baking a new baking exercise was added to the Christmas repertoire – the gingerbread house! It was LOTS of fun to make but naturally after a year or two a house was no longer adequate and little village squares were the go. It started with just me wanting to add something extra to the festive feel of the house but after that first year the entire household got involved with the planning, baking and decorating of the house/village. This year we are going for something different. Still a village you could say but not the town centre. There’s going to be a town fair along a pathway and we’ll be making a toffee lake, a stream and a gingerbread bridge to cross it. Hopefully. This may all start tomorrow. Lolly shopping happened in the heat today and the board to construct it on was brought home tonight. First step is laying out a map to scale then drawing up the patterns for the gingerbread pieces. Let the fun begin!