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Christmas is coming! T

radition means doing things the same way at the same time year after year. The traditions of Christmas seem to be

a moveable feast as they are very much influ- enced by the high street. This year’s celebra- tions will have been decided by designers and manufacturers at least a year ago. Enthusiasti- cally updating and reinventing the decorations and themes in the middle of the summer must be fun, but rather hard work to be choosing snowflake designs as the sun beats down on the other side of the window. The colours of Christmas will have been inspired by paint-

ings by old masters as well as new fabrics. As the shops roll out the blue and silver baubles or the gold and purple tinsel we will be able to date our decorations. 1995 was a good year for white! Red and green are age-old traditional colours because they mimic the colours in nature that are around at the time of year. The carol about the holly and the ivy was not just made up because the words sound nice but because when they were both full grown it was Christ- mas time, easy, simple and perennially chic. No matter what the fashionable colours are this year, or any year, red and green roll along some- times centre-stage, sometimes in the wings. I have decorations collected over the years

and always make a point of adding new ones to the stash. I love looking at themed trees but think they lack soul. A bauble is not just for Christmas it’s for life and if, as you unwrap it from its long winter nap and remember the time you brought a baby home from the hos- pital or the year you finally mastered the thigh- master then it’s doing its job. The debate between lights, no lights, coloured or clear can

bring out the control freak in everybody! But it’s not just our colour scheme that has been decided

for us but the types of meals and foods that are fashionable. There can be few people that don’t remember Delia’s cran- berry revolution and now we have Heston cajoling us to eat his pudding with an orange in the middle along with his snail mince pies and old slug sausages. I am not immune to his wiles and have fallen in with the crowd and purchased these things eagerly ready to try out his cunning creations. It’s not old fashioned to like traditional fare and it’s not mindless to

By Rowena Kitchen

try out new culinary experiences but getting the bal- ance of what works for you is the important part. The sad truth is that it costs a small fortune to

make your own pudding and then see it wasted as no one wants to take in that many calories. Unless you get huge enjoyment from it and can find some- one to share the cost of the many bottles of booze and kilos of dried fruits needed, then there is no shame in the ready-made option. We all like to do some time in the kitchen at this

time of year so maybe focus on less costly things, like ginger- bread cookies in the shape of stars, sausage rolls and cheese straws that give plenty of ‘rolling’ opportunities to small chil- dren who will then eat them by the dozen as they have never heard of a calorie and long may it last! I am going to do my best to have a waste-free

Christmas is

about celebrating and feasting and worrying about your hips on the day is sad but if you must, don’t broadcast it and spoil other’s enjoyment.

Christmas, which will start by making a list, check- ing it twice, and only buying the things on it. I will have calculated my guests’ needs and added 10 percent and not a drop more. If you buy food items that are dated then spend some time annoying other customers by trawling through the sell-by dates, so if they are not eaten in that 48 hours of gorging, they can do duty later in the new year. The single cream found at the back of the fridge the second week in January is not a pleasant experience… Last year I had a guest, a friend of a relation,

who I knew beforehand did not eat wheat, however she arrived to announce she was also not eating meat and did not LIKE mushrooms. I could have spent some time sobbing in the lar-

der instead I set about making a festive omelette. I have ar- rived at the time of life when I will not be held over a barrel by guilt and angst. If your guests do not make their food aller- gies, likes and dislikes known at least a month in advance then they can jolly well sit down to whatever you choose to serve them. The whole point of gathering to feast is to share the same foods not sixteen different things catering to individual likes, dislikes and fashionable allergies. No one is really interested in your latest diet or exclusion

of various foods so try to keep it to yourself. Christmas is about celebrating and feasting and worrying about your hips

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