You know you’re a grown up when all you want for Christmas is your body mass in mature cheese and port. I’m totally unprepared for Christmas this year, in fact, I’m still working through the pile of thank yous I owe my wedding guests, so I think greetings may be off. Sorry friends.
On the whole, I am lucky to have so much STUFF that it bothers me a bit that Christmas means my loved ones are expected to give me more STUFF. This is probably why I spend a greater proportion of my income on food than I do on clothing, makeup, toiletries and most other things apart from books and weird independent journals that stay on my shelves looking pretty while I read Twitter. Food is eaten, then it’s gone, or as Nora Ephron says, “food vanishes”. This makes food the perfect Christmas present for people like me, who already have too much.
When I’m feeling more together at Christmas time, I like to cook for people. Last year, I made my Grandma’s Christmas pudding, and if I say so myself, the years my grandmother put into perfecting the recipe did compensate for the fact I had never made Christmas pudding before.
One year, shortly after my parents died, my now-husband and I hosted an ‘orphans Christmas’ with some good friends. To both of our minds this was the best Christmas we have ever had. I had a fighting chance at Trivial Pursuit because we invested in a more recent edition than my parents’ one from 1984. I forgot the cheeseboard, but we managed to bag a huge quantity of red Leicester and Stilton from the generous staff at a nearby hotel on Christmas Day. A big bonus was the fact that, aside from a certain Sexy Beast charade, there was zero awkwardness all day. You can get a load of that when multiple generations or factions of the same family collide.
This year we’re keeping it small and flexible in the sense that I don’t know what we’re doing. I might have organised something had I not put so much energy into getting married. “What?” I hear you cry. “You’re a food blogger, you should have put together a list of ideal Christmas gifts for foodies by now, shared a recipe for mince pies or a Christmas craft. It’s not too late!”
Perhaps it’s not too late. I am a blogger after all, and I am beholden to my commercial interests. This is why I have to tell you about the range of Christmas hampers at Debenhams. In years past I have enjoyed hand-selecting cheeses and chutneys from local suppliers, gourmet crackers and teas, decent plonk, putting them all together in a wicker basket from Bill’s perhaps, or a wooden crate handcrafted by my other half. This year, however, I’ve just said ‘yes’ to a kindly PR who asked me to review a cheese and crackers hamper from Virginia Hayward that makes a tidy Christmas gift at £32.99 with free delivery.
The hamper contains a half-bottle of Chilean Cab Sav, some MacKenzies Scottish crackers, a wedge of quality Cropwell Bishop stilton, Maryland Farm mature cheddar and a jar of sweet onion marmalade. In other words, all you need to stop you having to barter with local hoteliers on Christmas afternoon. It all comes dressed prettily in a recycled, biodegradable tray ensuring that once the fun has been had, your house isn’t full of unwanted STUFF. And it even comes with an ice pack to keep the cheese happy. The full Debenhams hamper range is enormous and the cut-off date for Christmas delivery is a helpful 10pm on 23rd Dec, making it a great option for the utterly disorganised. With this in mind, I am getting back to pretending we have a lot longer than nine more sleeps to go until the big day.
Disclosure: I was given a Virginia Hayward Cheese & Crackers Hamper which retails at Debenhams for £32.99 inc. delivery, for the purposes of review. All gobshite my own.