Apparently Relate, the organisation that offers counselling services for every type of relationship is at its busiest after Christmas, dealing with a barrage of desperately unhappy people who have fought their way through the ‘festive’ period and are at breaking point.
Relatives that one of the partners can’t bear, the stress of buying pointless presents for the sake of it, groaning trolleys and angry queues made up of weary women (mostly) who dream of being elsewhere and the most ludicrous amount of food that is essentially for one day and makes Gargantua look like he used to fast. Oh and don’t forget the afternoon nap in front of the telly because you’ve eaten your body weight in saturated fat and sugar and feel like your stomach’s a scene from Cool Hand Luke (come on, keep up).
It’s all a grindingly hard period where contentment, peace, family bonds are torn asunder in spectacular fashion and yet many of us still do the same things, year in year out. Oh and while I’m at it, why do men never bother to sign cards? Why do we bother sending them most of the time anyway? They hold no information other than a signature. Pointless.
I loathe the commercialisation of Christmas, but nothing matches the sadness I feel for the for the very old, left to rot on their own at a time when they are at their most vulnerable, depressed and sad at being discarded by everyone.
This blog is about food and feeding people should be a joy, not a teeth clenching scenario where all you feel is exhausted and stressed. Yes, yes, there are families that are close, loving and take huge pleasure from each other’s company. It is however, not the norm, but there are several ways to make it less stressful, however many people with whom you are forced to break bread.
1) Unless you are five or under, ban presents or have a limit to buying for one adult only. My family banned them a decade ago and we haven’t looked back.
2) If you do one good deed, try and see what is going on with the vulnerable in your community. If you can’t spend some time helping, you can donate food to all sorts of charities.
3) Sit down with your partner and have a frank discussion about the day. Do you really have to invite people you actively dislike and if so, can it be for a shorter time, a different day where you can feed people on leftovers galore and make it simple? Thrash out a compromise.
4) This does bring me to the food. It’s weird that the majority of people I know have an indifferent attitude to turkey, Xmas pudding etc, yet feel they HAVE to produce a gigantic bird that could feed a platoon of soldiers. Why? An organic chicken is so much better and you can still have all the trimmings or better still, try a goose instead. I’ll be blogging a recipe soon. It’s delicious and served with a garlic sauce it makes a hell of a dish.
5) The do ahead that makes life so much more bearable. The day before your guests arrive you can do things at a slower pace whilst singing along to Slade. If you’re having canapes, think carefully about what you can prep the day before. Cheat up the ying yang to boot. Might cost you a bit extra, but search the internet for the best quality puddings, nut roasts for the veggies, luxury bread sauce etc. There are some great products out there and it’s only a day for God’s sake.
6) Or, you can do as I do. Bugger off to Spain to stay with a bessie.