And so Christmas is nearly over. The guests will be going home today. Indeed, Brother-from-Scotland went home yesterday, leaving here early morning and phoning mid-afternoon to say he was home safely. It was so good to see him for a few days.
In the afternoon yesterday we had the Phone Call from Brother-in-America (and Sister-in-Law) and we all took turns to have a nice little chat about things. They were just waiting for the snow to hit - it seems that a huge wodge of snow was travelling up the east coast, dumping huge loads of snow as it travelled, and it was due to hit their area in a few hours. They didn't seem too concerned; that sort of bad weather is not particularly rare for them so I guess they were prepared.
DD and DG came over for the day so it was a case of preparing another 'big' meal - except that with leftovers and the vegetables I'd prepared before hand (twice, in fact, because of that freezer going kaput) it was not much of a hassle at all, just a case of putting things in (or on) and taking them out (or off) reheated (or cooked). I deliberately did extra roasted veg though, because I want to make roasted vegetable soup today - it's gorgeous!
Which brings me neatly to a confession. The old healthy and sensible eating has gone totally belly up over the last three weeks or so. For the last week I haven't posted anything much in the other blog, the Food Diary, and I'm amazed people are still opening it. Amazed, but pleased, and I have promised that from now on, it is resumed and will be added to daily whenever possible.
Anyway - although there's still a lot of 'stuff' to eat up (which I refuse to throw away unless I really have to), I'm going to start the long train to healthy eating again with the aim of being right there again by next Monday for the second half of the campaign.
In the meanwhile, there's leftovers.
The turkey: Well, that's easy enough. There's more slices to cut off, some of which Mum and Dad will take home with them and then there's the remains, which, as always, will be boiled up, the meat separated from the rest, the stock strained and the more or less bare bones discarded. Then there's the single portion meals to make. Christmas crumble, for a start. Turkey, ham and Stilton pie. The turkey version of shepherd's pie. So many things to make and do with what's left!
Last time I was in Lakeland, I saw some little oval foil dishes, a perfect size for single portions of crumble, pie, etc, so this year, instead of having to use my little ceramic dishes, I will use them. This will provide me with a lot of meals in the next few months.
The custard: Good, home made, fresh custard (well, not so fresh now, but you know what I mean). I think I will slacken this off with a bit more cream and then run it through the ice cream maker to make a 'superior' 'real' ice cream. Also, I might put some crumbled Christmas pud in some of it. That sounds nice. That will be spooned into individual plastic pots for useful and delicious desserts, nicely portion controlled.
The cheese: I'm hoping Mum will take some home with her. The rest of the cheddar will be grated and frozen in 30g portions, the rest of the Stilton will go into the sauce for the pie fillings and the rest of the Brie will be eaten!
The ham: This will be cut straight down the middle, half for me and half for Mum and Dad. Snacks, salads, into the filling for the crumbles and pies. There will be no problem finishing that up!
The Christmas cake: Again, some for Mum and Dad, some for DD and DG, some for DS and a bit for me. It keeps!
The alcohol: Not too much left, thank goodness, and the wine is in a box, so will keep longer term. The Campari (my treat to myself as no-one else likes it) will be gone by New Year - I promise!! The beer will go into some beef in beef, destined for the freezer in - you've guessed it - single portions!
The chocolates: Well, a potential disaster there. I will unload some onto Mum and Dad and - we will see . . .
I think that's about it really. There are extra vegetables, but they will not be a problem. There are extra eggs, but DD will have some.
I've heard it asked, is Christmas worth all the time, effort and money. Are those short celebrations really worth it.
I suppose that if one counts all the preparations and planning as a hassle and all the sorting out afterwards as something that just Has To Be Done, then maybe the answer is probably 'no, not really'.
If, like me, one really enjoys the planning, the preparations, the cooking, the home-making, the satisfaction of meals enjoyed and the joyful frugality of making the very most out of what's left afterwards then the answer is a resounding YES!
And if one sees it as a recognition of an amazing event, the time when God became a baby in a stable, then the whole thing takes on a new shine. Maybe I don't necessarily choose the 'best' way to celebrate. Maybe my way is selfish and self indulgent, but the chance to be with family, to care for each other, to giggle together, to work for them is, for me, a fantastic gift, one I am very grateful for and which, I hope, will never just be taken for granted.
So, as I said, Mum and Dad go home after breakfast. I have two days to potter and relax before I get busy again. Some pottering will be food based and some will be sit-in-a-chair-watching-rubbish-TV based. I guess there will be plenty of snoozing and reading. Yes, the bedrooms will need to be sorted and yes, the kitchen based stuff will make a mess, but it's all good fun and won't be a hassle! Happy days!