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Friday, December 24, 2010

What I enjoy about Christmas Day

Christmas isn't my holiday. I don't have any need to spend it having lunch and exchanging gifts with family members. I think we had a barbecue once, but not to celebrate Christmas, just because it was nice.

But I do enjoy Christmas Day. My usual routine on Christmas Day is: a. get up earlyish and bake bread. b. pack a picnic lunch, using my homemade bread for the sandwiches, with something gourmet as the filling - perhaps a good-quality cheese or two. The rest of the meal is a hard-boiled egg (what's a picnic without a hard-boiled egg? I was, after all, brought up on Enid Blyton, though I admit I don't take lashings of ginger ale with me), a piece of chocolate of some variety (again - taken from Blyton), some of the Christmassy baked-goods given me by friends, fresh summer fruit and a thermos of coffee. c. head for the beach with the above-mentioned lunch and whatever book or six that I'm reading at the time. d. wave at people having picnics in the park on the way. e. arrive at the beach, have my picnic and read, occasionally waving at other beach-picnickers. On the way, I enjoy the peace of the streets, hearing only the odd rattle of crockery from the houses as someone prepares lunch.

One year, a kindly lady invited me into her garden where she and her friends were having lunch together, probably thinking I was a poor soul forced to spend the day alone. I appreciated the thought, but declined the offer politely, not telling her about the yummy lunch in my backpack or the pure pleasure I get from spending the day doing just what I want.

Another year, there was a storm on Christmas Day. I had my picnic in the living-room, bingeing on episodes of Angel.

Last year, unfortunately, my family and I were in the palliative care unit where my father was spending his last days. :-(

This year, because I'd spent the Friday night at my mother's home, I managed to drag her along to enjoy the picnic with me. I did offer to bake some bread, but she thought I'd be better off having a rest, so I bought a baguette for us to share and we had it with Gorgonzola and Brie cheeses, the thermos of coffee, fruit and the world's best vanilla slice, bought from a wonderful bakery near my home.

Mum dozed a while after lunch and I read my new book, a very readable history of gladiators - anything to help with the research. Not that I have any fiction planned set in ancient Rome, but you never know. According to this book,the movie Spartacus was more or less correct, with a few exceptions (such as the ending, of course, and the fact that they didn't have retiarii for sixty years after the time of Spartacus) but Gladiator got it completely wrong - fascinating!

A peaceful day, and Mum enjoyed it too.

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