& COOKING ARTICLE
bigger dining table
Have you ever thought what makes a really good Christmas?
When you are young the answer is probably quite simple . .
. lots and lots of presents. But when you grow older where
does the magic of Christmas come from?
Most of us will have had good and bad Christmases, especially
the older we get. You tend to forget the bad ones and the
good ones probably blur into one idyllic Christmas. Enjoying
Christmas to the full is something that the younger and older
members get to do most of all because they have no responsibilities
and can just enjoy the day for what it is. But there is still
a lot of pleasure to be had in providing a great Christmas
for your family, even if it means a lot of hard work and stress
putting it all together.
me, like most people, the central focus of Christmas day has
to be the turkey dinner. Many people now cook alternatives
to turkey but the focus of the day is still the main meal.
I wonder if I was able to travel back in a time machine whether
the Christmases of my teenage years and early twenties would
actually be as perfect as I remember them.
Looking back on my early life I think I have to say I was
very fortunate to have lived in a most wonderful house. It
was huge! To explain how huge it was, it had one of those
grand staircases which splits halfway up and goes up either
side to the next floor - and the hall was the height of the
house which was three storeys. It was on the half landing
that a huge Christmas tree sat as the focal point of the festivities.
Off the hallway was a lounge probably the size of the ground
floor of many modern houses, with a similar sized dining room
and morning room.
Christmas morning would always start with a visit from the
local farmer to wish everyone a Merry Christmas. He would
turn up around 9.00 am, with his boots covered in mud and
other smelly stuff. Allowed no further than the kitchen by
my mother, he would sit down to drink a very, very large whiskey.
If that was how his day started I hate to think what he was
like by the end of the day. Of course, by 9.00 am the kitchen
was already in action with a huge turkey already starting
its marathon cooking session.
Christmas was never just my mother and father with us three
children. There was always a grandparent or two, remote cousins
or dear old ladies referred to as aunts, even if they were
no relative. My mother would spend all morning in the kitchen
with me roped in to peel potatoes and any other chore that
did not require any great skill. My father's job, as man of
the house, was to ensure everyone had a full glass throughout
the day and, of course, to carve the turkey when the time
The house would be truly alive at Christmas with so many
people to share it. There would be two coal fires burning
in the lounge and the morning room from first thing and as
the morning progressed the dining room would be prepared for
the meal. There are no longer any photographs in my collection
of what the dining room looked like in all its glory but the
focal point of the room was the dining table. Not any old
dining table but one that could seat up to twelve people.
Wmple space for everyone, the decorative Christmas displays
and all the extras that go on the table at that time of year.
goes without saying that the Christmas dinner was first class,
with as much to eat as you could manage. I used to compete
with my grandfather to see who could put the most on his plate
and be first to finish . . . and then have seconds!
This is not the place to give guidance or ideas about cooking
your turkey dinner as this has been covered previously in
an article entitled How
to Cook a Roast Turkey. What I really wanted to focus
on was what really brought the whole thing together to make
it a truly great day. It has to be sitting around the huge
dining table with several generations of the family, all able
to sit comfortably and with space to breathe. So my secret
tip for making your Christmas meal something really special
is to get a
bigger dining table!
How everyone enjoyed themselves was illustrated by the fact
that we would probably be at the table for two to three hours
before adjourning to the various living rooms. My grandfather
and auntie Maude to the one room where they would
doze off in armchairs, with auntie Maude showing her knee-length
bloomers, and the rest of us to another room so as not to
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