Being the only family members living outside of Yorkshire, for the past few years we have visited relatives for Christmas, so that Little Bird could see and spend time with her cousins on Christmas Day and they could open their presents together. This year, however, we are doing Christmas differently and staying at home in London for Christmas Day, for the first time in a number of years. As a consequence, either myself or OH, will be making our Christmas Dinner, which we are looking forward to, and I will need to plan my Christmas food shopping carefully.
In addition, we are having some members of the family to stay with us for Christmas Day this year which is the first time this has happened since we moved to London nearly 20 years ago, so Christmas day this year will be a bit special and a bit more challenging.
When we do stay home for Christmas, or even if we go to relatives and take various things with us to make a contribution, I try to spread the cost by buying the odd item each week in the few months leading up to Christmas. I usually start with biscuits for cheese, chocolates, snacks, Christmas puddings, pickles, alcohol and other things that will keep a long time. I do have to be a little careful though as I found out to my cost last year, when I collected together lots of things only to have a mouse infestation destroy much of it, and I had to start again. This year, I am being extra careful how I store things, keeping them in rodent-proof cupboards, not just in boxes around the house.
We're not sure yet exactly what we'll be eating for Christmas dinner this year. We are not particularly fond of turkey, so we may have lamb or some other joint. As we don't have a very large cooker, and shelf space is pretty limited, it is going to be very interesting to see if we can cook a decent Christmas meal for 6 people in it, without too much stress or any major culinary disasters. All the usual problems everyone usually faces at Christmas I imagine, but which we have been spared up until now. Plans can change at the last minute, however, so I'm not stressing about it too much just yet, but am slowly gathering bits and pieces together week by week in readiness. The fresher items will need to be shopped for closer to the time, but it will be fun to go out in the preceding few days and get all the remaining things we need, as it is something that we so rarely do. I may try making a detailed plan for the meal itself, with timings for the vegetables, etc., just to make life a little easier on the day.
Whatever happens, our Christmas meal will be quite simple and unfussy. It may be rack or leg of lamb with roast potatoes, vegetables and a few festive extras thrown in, such as the obligatory pigs in blankets, stuffing and sprouts. It will probably be accompanied by a Cava, sparkling wine or maybe even a bottle of Champagne and followed by a traditional Christmas pudding with brandy sauce. Nothing radical or out of the ordinary. The main thing is that we will be sitting down to eat together and hopefully enjoying each others' company and the food and drink. It really is the simple things that count for us at Christmas.
Later in the day we will probably have salad and sandwiches (note I'm avoiding the term buffet), should we feel hungry again with olives, bread, cheese, pickles, ham, pork pie. All very traditional, but very nice at this time of year and settle down in front of the fire and watch TV or play games such as Bingo, Bananagrams or whatever other games take our fancy on the day, like thousands of other households across the country.
I will be making sure that we have plenty of nice drinks to suit everyone so that we can have a tipple on the day and just relax. Baileys, brandy, gin, vodka, whisky, wine, soft drinks and a few beers thrown in should just about do it. These will have to be budgeted for and bought over the next few months as they can work out pretty expensive. I may just get small bottles of some spirits, as we're not big drinkers, but it is nice to have a selection on offer. Whatever is left, it will eventually get drunk by us at some point, so it won't go to waste.
What I do like about Christmas Day in London is that it tends to be quite relaxed. No rushing around, as we don't need to go anywhere. We can get up and have a relaxed breakfast followed by a walk in the morning with the dog, before or after opening a few presents. It's so wonderfully quiet in London at Christmas, as many people have left the city to go and visit relatives, so it always feels a very different place. It will be nice for relatives to visit at this time and enjoy of the quietness that is so unusual. The other advantage is that if you do forget to buy something for the Christmas dinner, there are always small local shops open, so you can usually buy it at the last moment.