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I haven’t had an actual advent calendar for years and years and I’m not sure I was even that good at giving them to my children. But for many years now I’ve actually made my own, although it’s only just occurred to me that that is what it is. (And there may not be 24 days to it.)
With my advent calendar I collect little moments in my mind, little bits of Christmas that are special and mean more to me than ‘the perfect turkey’ or ‘the perfect mince pie’ or ‘the perfect starter’ – who has room for a starter?
I get rather fed up with the word ‘perfect’ at this time of year. I have a strange addiction to Christmas magazines and I adore cookery programmes but I no longer strive for perfection on The Big Day. I just don’t think it’s important, or indeed the point. The point, for me, is bringing friends and family together and having a nice time. None of this is dependent on any gourmet cooking.
In ‘ye olden days’ good meals and you probably hadn’t had anything delicious since the Michaelmas goose if you were lucky, it probably was important not to mess it up, though I doubt they worried too much about getting ‘the breast perfectly moist’ and the potatoes ‘perfectly crispy’. These days, those of us who even consider worrying about how well the Christmas meal goes have plenty of good meals. The Christmas meal can be uneatable and we won’t starve. So while I really want everyone to have a good time and would prefer the food to be nice, I no longer get worked up about making it perfect.
So what about this advent calendar then? It really is the little things – the rueful smile exchanged with a perfect stranger in a supermarket as you bump trolleys and admit you’ve bought far too much, or a woman in a pub you’ve never met gives you a recipe for Christmas pudding and writes it all out for you on a paper napkin. It’s seeing someone you haven’t seen for years and telling her that a packet of spaghetti – as long as it’s those dark blue packets – is the perfect present for her brother. Finding a clump of primroses out in your garden on Christmas Eve. Hearing the perfect carol, or singing with a group of carol singers in the shopping mall because you happen to know one of them and they drag you in. Years ago, when my mother was still alive we would sit in the kitchen drinking whisky punch challenging each other to potato peeling contests. When we did this at other times of year we always said it was ‘just like Christmas’. It was so much fun!
These are the things that make Christmas for me, the perfection of the roast potatoes just isn’t important. (Although I do get upset if there isn’t enough gravy…)
Love Katie xxx