December 19, 2006 > Holiday greetings from across the pond
Holiday greetings from across the pond
Seasonal greetings fellow Newarkers. The holly wreath is hanging on the front door, hoisted up to prevent the postman and newspaper boy prickling their fingers as they push the goodies through the letterbox. The holly is complimented by tartan bows that will please my Scottish mother. However it looks a little strange framed by large pots of summer flowers, still blooming thanks to the extraordinarily mild November and December we've had. Where are the frosted car windscreens and slippery pavements we expect?
Newark looks festive and twinkly. Christmas trees and lights adorn every thoroughfare. Shops are bursting with gifts and Christmas songs. The market is awash with holly arrangements and mistletoe (for the kissing underneath of).
The Payne clan will be travelling from far and near to join up for the usual extended family feast and fun. Travelling furthest will be son Joe and his wife Cat, presently on the other side of the world in Australia, holidaying and watching the famous Ashes cricket matches. I'll be glad to see them safely back for Christmas as they recently discovered that Cat is expecting........twins! (That's Paris for you!!) Other son, Tom, and lovely wife Amanda, in Nottingham, are hosting us all for Christmas lunch. Daughter Lucy will join us from London. Before this, I'll have been busy stuffing Christmas stockings as returning children still expect Santa to leave them ...no matter what their age!
When we feel we can't eat another morsel of turkey or crumb of Christmas pudding, we all stagger off to sister-in-law, Audrey's, for Christmas night.....and more food. The youngest family members distribute presents from the enormous pile under the tree. Young cousins are happy to be together, as with the generation before.
At some ungodly hour, we wend our way back to Newark, laden with gifts. A few hours of sleep before the festivities continue the next day, when the Nottingham branch of the family come to us. More fun.....and more food, and sometimes some good old traditional games and magic tricks. Bliss.
Before that of course, cards need to be written and presents wrapped. I'm taking advantage of the excellent local supermarket, Waitrose, this year, who offer a pre-order service, so hopefully, they will present me with a neatly packaged trolley full of shopping. Sounds like a great time and energy saver. My head's already spinning with recipes for cheesecakes, salmon mousse and pavlova. How much salad will we need? Whatever happens, one thing is certain, I'll be finding unopened jars of pickled onions and other forgotten goodies in cupboards for weeks afterward.
Recently some homes have adopted your idea of decorating the outside of the house. A few paper chains inside are no longer enough. Fully decorated and illuminated exteriors are still rare enough to cause comment, and in some cases, traffic jams of 'rubber neckers' and irate neighbours.
On Christmas Eve, the impressive Newark Parish Church holds a Christingle service. It's packed with Newarkers of all ages, who collect their Christingle orange complete with candle that represents lighting the world, and raisins on tiny sticks that represent feeding the world. As we sing our carols and process round the ancient Church lit by candlelight, I feel Christmas has really begun.
A very Happy Christmas to you all and may 2007 be great for you. We'll meet up next year.