On the Christmas before we left for Cape Town and aged eight I was in a bit of a quandary. I had searched the house top to bottom looking for my Christmas presents including the in the basement which was officially out of bounds, unless I was with my sister listening to her record player which had been banished from my father’s earshot.
I had found my five year old brother’s present which I have to say being a tomboy I was more than envious of. It was a red cowboy hat, waistcoat and holster with a silver six shooter… I knew who the weakest link in the family was and I applied pressure daily to find out what my gift was… Eventually the week before the big day he partially cracked and announced heatedly that it had ‘four wheels and you pushed it’.
You will probably gather that a dolly pram was not exactly what I had in mind. But I was a properly brought up child, and whilst I was more excited by the books that I received, I showed appropriate gratitude for said pram, which held a blonde haired replica of what my mother considered to be the perfect child……
It took me 24 hours, but I was was wearing the holster, gun and cowboy hat which I borrowed from the end of my brother’s bed while he slept. Sadly…. when we left a few months later for South Africa the pram had to be left behind and of course by the time we got back two years later I was a teenager and it was gifted to another.
Time for a little music and here is Bing Crosby with the classic I’m Dreaming of a White Christmas
Time to look at how Christmas is celebrated around the world and you can read more via Why Christmas.
Today a look at Egypt where around 15% of the population are christian and celebrate Christmas. They are far more serious about advent than we are here, with a 43 day period of abstinence from all animal products. It is 43 days because they don’t celebrate Christmas until January 7th as in Russia, Ethiopia and Serbia.
There is a special service on Christmas Eve that sometimes go on until the early morning. Having been so good before Christmas, families go to town for their Christmas dinner with a favourite being ‘Fata’ a lamb stew containing bread, rice and garlic.
A great many other Egyptians also celebrate Christmas, but in the commercial sense with most supermarkets selling traditional foods and hotels and restaurants hosting special festivities.
We are now on Day three and in the traditional 12 days this would be 27th December and celebrates the life of St John the Apostle. John and his brother James were disciples of Jesus and John is probably the only one of the apostles who did not suffer a martyr’s death. He lived a relatively long life and is attributed as the author of several books in the New Testament.
The origins of the Twelve Days of Christmas will probably never really be clarified as several people lay claim to it. France is the likely suspect but it has been sung in various formats since about 1780 in England. I suspect that modern day pop stars would be delighted to have their songs still being chanted 240 years later.
As far as the song is concerned according to folklore the Three French Hens probably refer to a variety of chicken from France. There are a number breeds of chicken associated with France particular around the time of the origins of the song. These were the Crevecoeur, Houdans and the La Fleche. I also suspect that the elite of the day thought that using the term French Hen sounded more upmarket that chicken!
Time for my first guest…..
Time for my first guest who is the lovely pre-school teacher and Wedding dancer and singer Jennie Fitzkee. If you have not visited Jennie’s wonderful blog, please do and rediscover the joy of reading along with the children in her classroom. Here is the link to part one of a three part series on Language, Literacy and Storytelling
And if you are wondering about the Wedding dancer and singer bit.. then find out more and meet the Mermatrons
Here is what Jennie had to share about her most favourite Christmas gift ever
1989 was a year of very little money. It was also the year our son desperately wanted the GI Joe Aircraft Carrier for Christmas. Yes, desperately. Ninety nine dollars was the price tag, and that might as well have been nine million dollars. We couldn’t get him his dream. He understood, sort of. He never complained, yet we talked about that dream occasionally over the years.
When he became engaged to be married, we spent Christmas with her family. He unwrapped a huge package from her parents. And there it was, the GI Joe Aircraft Carrier. I don’t know who cried first, but there were many tears shed. Everyone watched in delight as this now grown man played with his beloved toy. Sometimes dreams do come true.
How lovely and what a moment.. I did manage to find a picture of a GI Joe Aircraft Carrier
I had a few ideas of what I could get Jennie as a gift for Christmas and eventually decided on a virtual invitation to join in with the next Mama Mia flashmob… location to be determined…courtesy of Youtube
Time for another recipe from Carol Taylor from one of our cook from scratch posts in recent weeks. Cranberries have long been associated with Christmas and usually in cranberry sauce to go with the turkey, however you might like to create a starter from these delicious ingredients. You can find other cranberry recipes Here
These little puffs don’t take long to make so if I need a quick snack if visitors pop in around sundowner time then these don’t take long. I always keep a little box of already cut puff pastry squares which I can just pop in the oven and I always have a container of cranberry as we like it in a sandwich if we have cold chicken or pork and it is lovely with hot meat or pork schnitzels which I just top with some cream cheese and a spoonful of cranberry sauce.
• I pack of frozen Puff Pastry, thawed.
• 125 gm(4 oz) of Camembert Cheese.
• 100gm Cranberry Sauce.
• 1 sprig of thyme…leaves picked.
• 1 large egg, beaten.
- Line 2 baking tins with baking parchment.
- Roll out puff pastry and cut into bite-sized squares ( 3cm)
- Put onto baking trays making sure you space well apart. Brush top with beaten egg. Chill in the fridge for 20-30 mins.
- Put into pre-heated oven 180 or gas mark 6. Cook for approx 10 minutes or until golden brown. Slice Camembert into equal sized pieces and put one in the centre of each pastry square. Top with a tsp of cranberry sauce. Put back into the oven until cheese has melted.
- Garnish with Thyme.
My next guest is Lisa Thomson whose passion for writing began during her divorce and has blossomed into more creative pursuit without losing that drive to help others. Her two self-help books, “The great Escape; A Girl’s Guide To Leaving a Marriage” and “A divorce Companion”, help economically-dependent women going through divorce. You can also find helpful posts on the subject on her blog 10 Reasons to watch the War of the Roses again…
“Hearts Unbroken-short stories”, is her first published fiction. Lisa resides in Vancouver, British Columbia.
Lisa shares her most favourite Christmas present ever….
It was 1976 and I was in seventh grade. My best Christmas present ever was a brand new pair of skis, a ski jacket and proper ski pants!
The year before I had been enrolled in ski lessons along with my two brothers. It was exciting. It was thrilling to fly down the snow covered slopes! The only problem was, I hadn’t the proper jacket or pants to wear. We rented the equipment which was fine by me! But my warmest pants happened to be a pair of corduroy slacks. Unfortunately, they tore during one of my lessons. How embarrassing! For the next lesson I fixed them up by sewing them myself. I was 11 years old and not exactly proficient in my sewing skills, LOL. I was proud of myself though and wore them again. When another skier looked at my pants in the tow rope line up, and pointed at the stitching, she asked “Did you sew those yourself?” I must have blushed 50 shades of pink. “Yes,” I answered hesitantly. I’ve never been more mortified. Why on earth did I think I could sew and no one would notice?
Well, getting that brand new ski suit and skis was dreamy and the best Christmas present of my childhood, hands down! I did NOT say pants down…
Oh my, I do feel for Lisa, and one does hope that the skier in question got stuck on the ice on the ski lift for a very long time by her tongue……
So I headed off to ‘Youtube’ and I have secured an invitation to the next Freelance Nutcases Ski Expo – you will however have to provide your own health insurance.
A review for Hearts Unbroken.
Hearts Unbroken’ by Lisa Thomson is an anthology of short stories that tug at reader’s heart, as they talk about human emotions and relationships, some of them so fragile that they need a solo long drive to figure them out. Sarah’s marriage is a façade and she discovers it the day she decides to attend her family reunion without her husband who has no respect for her emotions and desires. He shrugs her off with an insensitive remark. No less poignant are the questions of Samantha who is too little to understand why her mommy is not coming home to tuck her in her bed.
Lisa excels in bringing out raw emotions without letting them melt into a melodrama. Her characters move on with their life despite heavy baggage of betrayal and internal strife. If Kora felt imprisoned within her own home, she had the courage to break free from the dazzling world of Jack, if Ava had rebuffed men to avoid an affair, she also knew how to calm her carnal desires. Grief stricken Rachel could rise to the occasion to save Alex. All these persons seem to be so familiar. They could be one of our friends, struggling with an unhappy marriage or a neighbor who doesn’t know how to deal with domestic abuse.
Lisa’s stories deal with these realistic problems in the most authentic manner, holding the reader’s interest till the end. If you wonder what good relationships are and how they can be nurtured, read this book. If men fail to appreciate the role of a woman in their homes and how much work is required to keep it blossoming, they would surely learn from Mack. I devoured this book within hours!
Time for a carol and one of the favourites of mine as a child….and sung by another great artist – Nat King Cole
You cannot leave the party without enjoying a festive drink… or two
Mulled wine is not the invention of early Christmas revellers as the Romans were heating red wine a long time before and no doubt other pagan cultures too. After all it is a delightful drink. They even spiced it up and it was the invading Roman soldiers who took it through Europe and into Britain and like their long straight roads that still exist today, they left behind their recipes for us to enjoy.
It has various levels of sobriety from non-alcoholic through to lethal. Concoctions abound with port and spirits being added liberally. Apart from Christmas it is also drunk extensively in ski resorts and there is usually a mobile aid station at the bottom of the slopes at the end of the day. I do not trust two short planks down a mountainside at 60 miles an hour but would of course force myself to await my husband after his black runs for an hour or so fortified with a couple of mugs of warmed wine.
In the Scandinavian countries and the Alps it is usually referred to as Glögg, or Gløgg the accent differing from place to place and dependent on inebriation.
Here is a lovely recipe that should be delightful on cold nights leading up to Christmas: https://www.allrecipes.com/recipe/235298/hot-mulled-wine/
Thank you for dropping in today and please let us know about your most memorable Christmas gift in the comments… and if you could share that would be amazing.. thanks Sally.
My guests tomorrow are Olga Nunez Miret, Norah Colvin, and Amy Reade.. I hope you will join us.