We took the Christmas tree decorations down on Friday. The bare tree is still in the living room, because Ben tells me he likes the smell. I also think he's unsure as to how we're going to dispose of it. Ever since we packed away the trinkets and lights, Joan has been announcing/asking, "Christmas is over?!" She's had a wonderful time this festive season. We all have. In fact, Christmas this year was exceptionally enjoyable. The day was slow-paced, punctuated by thoughtful presents and insanely delicious food. The weather was cool enough to make a hot and hearty meal appealing, and then in the afternoon the sun came out and we sat on the lawn watching movie trailers on my brother's phone. Joan was happy and we could enjoy her good mood without needing to drive from place to place. The entire day was rather perfect, and the days following have been lovely, too. After a year of great highs and great lows, gentle and nourishing time at home is just what I wanted. I'm quite pleased to be saying goodbye to 2017, and to be entering the new year with adjusted expectations and gratitude. It feels really, really good.
Joan woke early Christmas morning, though no earlier than she has been in recent weeks (she's really taken to the hour of 5). I lay in bed beside her, begging her to lie down for a cuddle, which she did, for a few seconds, before racing out of her bedroom to wake Ben. He too tried to get her to lay down for a cuddle, but she was having none of that. When we reminded her it was Christmas Day (!!!), she raced once more down the hallway towards the living room to see if Santa and his reindeer had eaten the snack she left for them. Indeed there were little reindeer nibbles in the apples, and Santa had replied to her note and left presents under the tree. We popped the kettle on (and the lights, too, because it wasn't yet 5:30am) and sat around the tree exchanging and opening gifts.
This was Joan's third Christmas. The first year she was four months old, the second she was sixteen months and so not happy to be receiving attention, and now, aged 2 and a quarter, she has begun to feel the wonder of Christmas. In the weeks leading up to the 25th, she would listen with big eyes as we spoke about Santa, the jolly fellow who kindly leaves us presents when we're sleeping, as well as the fun we'd have with family and all the shortbread (her favourite) we'd be eating. Watching her take it all in has been magical. "This is for me?, she asked in wonderment upon seeing her presents. Santa gave her my old doll's house (which my clever Mum refurbished for us, complete with the furniture I played with as a child) and she was enraptured by it. Joan also received socks, textas and a dress, as well as a book from Ben and I. It felt just enough to be special and not too much to be overwhelming.
After presents we ate homemade raspberry white chocolates, which I had made on Christmas Eve. To do this, I melted cacao butter in a double boiler, then whisked in cashew butter and maple syrup, and poured the mix into little silicone moulds. I then mashed fresh raspberries with some maple syrup and plopped the pink mix into the middle of the chocolates, finishing with a tiny sprinkle of sea salt, before popping them in the freezer to set and store. They were scrumptious! We then went on a walk outside, after which Ben and Joan sat on the rug playing with her new toys while I made fruit salad and coffee. Then it was time to head to Mum and Dad's house in Red Hill for food and more presents. Mum cooked the same glorious food as she usually does, with a few additions (note: the first thing Ben packed before we left for Red Hill was glass containers, in anticipation of leftovers). There was overnight pork, roasted vegetables, peas, stuffing, rolled + stuffed turkey breast, ham and gravy. Mum also made Rosie, my brother's girlfriend who is a vegetarian, a mushroom wellington-style pie, as well as a separate Christmas cake because our traditional plum pudding is made with suet. Oooooh the pudding was even better than I remember. So was the boozy sauce. Joan was really into the potatoes, carrots, peas and gravy, which worked well because it left more pork, stuffing and pudding for me. With sparkling shiraz and an awkward, "getting to know you" family card game , it was my most favourite Christmas in recent years. Here are some pictures from our day.
Thank you for following along this year, lovely readers. I wish you all a very happy new year.