Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Noël Chez Nous

Neither a natural hostess, or cook, I am keen on the table looking nice. It does seem to appear shabbier in the photo, than I thought it was, but our dinner was delicious. We had roast lamb, a turkey being too big for 2 of us & we don't like it anyway! The poinsettia was dropped round by a young man I helped teach English to, he was attending a class my friend ran, & came to me for extra tuition. I was sorry I missed him & hope he got my vaguely addressed card, this year my phone went AWOL (& the card was irrevocably blocked by the time I recovered it) & my address book went home with someone else from Heathrow (we had just a lovely holiday in Italy together as well) so Christmas cards have been a bit of a shot in the dark. Our tree is 'tasteful', well tinsel-less, & has been the same for 3 years when my parents arrived with it together most of the decorations (SO claims real trees aggravate something). I have a feeling they were expecting not to need them because they would be spending Christmas plural with us... We haven't had them back, mostly because they don't really know how to be guests, & when I say that all my friends become paranoid. All I can say is that they were rude about our village, house & kitchen, all improvements including re-location are restricted by our budget, & if you ever come to stay please wash up or offer to make tea, especially when your required intake is 2 cups per hour. I was exhausted by the time we dropped them back, mainly because they didn't lift a finger, but (to be fair) there is little where we live so we had to be tour guides with no respite which can't have been easy for them either; we like our own space in my family. I am not sure I tailored the tours to the client either, although perhaps a murmur of appreciation wouldn't have gone amiss, but they believe in being honest rather than kind do my parents. They also had to stay for 4 days because they don't drive so were restricted by the dictates of public transport, but having stayed for a fully catered 4 night stay we would have been really happy if they had taken us out for supper just 1 night.

Last year we helped out at a care home where Christmas dinner is a logistical exercise & keeping track of which presents belong to who kept me busier than a very busy person armed with labels & a marker pen! The SO feels uncomfortable about my charitable acts, but accompanies me, although even I felt like lady bountiful when I helped out with breakfast for the homeless in Leicester. Apparently all the shelters in Leicester provide Christmas dinner, as well as presents, so there was little call for another meal & helpers awkwardly outnumbered breakfasters. Attempts at offering company were stonewalled & one (fairly unstable woman) yelled at me quite accurately that my enquiries were none of my business. We did manage to give one grateful lad a new sleeping bag though & went for a fantastic brunch at a friend's house nearby afterwards.
This year I particularly liked our mantlepiece, though if you wish to comment on the fireplace, it was not our choice, but I have now labelled it shabby chic in order to find it acceptable. The pink crocodile was for some Lacoste promotion, an example of the landfill SO designs (sorry Ed.), but if he didn't earn lots of money doing that, I wouldn't be able to retrain as a social worker & venture out into the world with a useful purpose. We are hoping it won't eat the chocolate santa, which is about 6 years old, so probably not edible at all, although Mary seems to have gone missing from the nativity scene unless she has a beard these days. We have children visiting tomorrow so I am sure they'll sort out who is who for us, tiny things need better eyes perhaps. Our presents were just fine, & SO has bought a computor gadget in a boxing day sale, so all is well except for the rubbish on TV. Some things don't change.
The only hitch this year was SO not finding the Christmas tree lights until after I had foraged through every major retailer in the area; his area of responsibility includes all things with plugs attached! The only ones to be found were these pink feathery things which looked dreadful on the tree & there were insufficient quantities, something it is too late to discover on Christmas eve. I really like putting up the tree on Christmas eve, having a sherry, & off to church for carols. Though I remained calm, it was all a bit last minute even for me, perhaps next year we shall assemble the ingredients in advance. I do really like my fairy grotto bed now though, as does SO , in fact he was keener than I which was a surprise. SO is off until 2nd January, & remembering to feed him is a bit of an issue, I tend to assemble something from the contents of the fridge (not a skill he has acquired) but I also know I will really miss him when he goes back to work after all this time at home. It is just great fun having your best mate at home with you, & I think he is even going to paint the hall, which is just as well because I have a dissertation to write.

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