Saturday, December 25, 2010
My Christmas started on Christmas eve with the usual big family gathering. We all get together for a big dinner plus present-giving on Christmas eve and then there are smaller gatherings on Christmas day.
Seeing that Christmas eve gatherings are more a European custom than a British one, it was decided that there would be an Italian theme this year. Tracy's Simon was our host again and also our cook. He is a very good cook and this time turned out some magnificent lasagnas for us. There were also starters in the form of Prosciutto ham etc.
Quite often at our Christmas dinners we have a visitor or two -- usually someone who would not otherwise have a family Christmas. This time Simon invited along a queer couple who are friends of his. Leftists would probably be surprised to find a military man with homosexual friends but Simon is British born and bred and acceptance of homosexuals is very advanced there.
In fact it used to be said of British "Public" (meaning private) schools that homosexuality was not so much condoned there as compulsory.
I was sitting next to Vonnie's Simon at the dinner table and he and I had quite a good chat about a few things -- mainly New Zealand, where he hails from. He and Von are moving to NZ soon. Simon is the strong silent type so I wonder if Tracy had noticed that I do chat a bit to Simon and deliberately placed me next to him. I also had quite a bit of conversation with Von about her new baby and plans for New Zealand etc.
After dinner we had our usual game of getting and exchanging random presents. That is always a raucous occasion with lots of people shouting advice. It gets everyone interacting energetically so is good fun.
After that we each got our "Secret Santa" presents.
The babies were a big feature of the night with three of them there -- including Von's recently-born Hannah. Hannah is very placid so she got passed around like a parcel all night. And Paul announced that he and Susan are having a baby too. Sue is 5 weeks pregnant.
As usual, most of us were casually-dressed for the occasion but Susan and Tracy both glammed up so that was nice to see.
Joe had good news: He has now been accepted into a Ph.D. course in Mathematics at ANU. He even gets a new scholarship to go with it.
It's very rainy here at the moment so the drive home at night through the rain in my Humber was no picnic. The visiblity was poor so I was in fear of crashing the car throughout the drive. Quite nerve-racking.
And today I was at one of the smaller lunches that various family members put on. Jenny had me, Joe, Nanna and Pam at her place. She cooked up a very traditional lunch consisting of many things but with turkey and ham being the main features. The ginger-glazed ham was particularly good.
And Anne came over this evening with plans to stay for a couple of days. We had leftover ham and mustard sandwiches for tea, something I often do on Christmas night.
Anne stayed on at my place for the rest of the 4 day Christmas break -- cooking me some excellent breakfasts and dinners -- which undoubtedly saved me from starvation, considering that my usual providers were closed for the break.
Memorably, we had HAGGIS one night, which was so good that I overate somewhat, something I rarely do. It was one left over in my freezer from my last Burns night -- which I had got from "Syd's pie shop". Syd is a brilliant cook.