Saturday, 15 December 2012

The run-up to Christmas.

Are you an organised person, or do you let things muddle along? Do you make lists and cross things off as you do them, or do you keep a mental list in your head?

I am afraid I am the former.  That sounds almost like an apology doesn't it?   Well some people seem to find this super-finnickiness very irritating (well, alright, most people) but it is the only way in which I can both operate and keep my sanity.

Maybe it comes from years of running a large department in a Comprehensive School, where I had to keep things running smoothly.   I have now been retired for many years but I still maintain this organisation.

So when it comes to the Christmas season then my lists begin to appear as early as November and they are kept in my dog-eared copy of Delia's Christmas Cookery, which at this time of the year is my bible.

Christmas puddings done, re-wrapped, cling-filmed and covered in foil (tick); Christmas cakes baked, fed repeatedly with rum, marzipanned and (this morning)iced (almost tick); Christmas cards written and posted (tick); presents bought, wrapped and ready to give out/posted (tick); menus written and anything which is not perishable bought (tick).

Actually here on the farm we have a relatively quiet Christmas.   We spend the day itself just the two of us, but I cook the turkey, the ham and all the trimmings on that day so that when Boxing Day comes, when I have eight plus for the whole day, a lot of the cooking has been done.    After that there is a lull until New Year's Eve when I have a small dinner party for six.

But there are always droppers-in so there has to be a plentiful supply of mince pies lurking in the freezer.   I know there are some good ones which you can buy these days, but nothing tastes as good as a home made one, does it?   And as I over-bought dried fruit (getting carried away by Tesco's offers) I had a lot of it left to make mincemeat,

Of course life goes on here on the farm whatever day of the year it is.   The hens still need feeding; the sheep need inspecting and (if it is cold weather) feeding and the inside cattle need cleaning out and stocking up on feed.   All that takes the best part of two hours.   Then the farmer can come in for the day.   In his milking days, of course, it would have been lunch time before he came in and he would have had to be out again for five o'clock for evening milking.

There was a slight hiccup in my organisation though.   Friday was designated as the day we drove across the Pennines to Sedbergh to deliver a present to our God-daughter and have lunch with her.  Friday dawned with thick, freezing fog, well-below freezing temperatures, icy sleet falling and a bitter wind.   All that at six hundred feet.   What would it be like at the top of the Pennines?  We didn't even consider going.   Now it is scheduled for some time next week.

Tonight we go to a dinner party with friends - always a lovely occasion.   It means I don't have to cook a lunch, so I can get on with the icing of the cakes (I make four - one for us, one for son and wife, and two for friends).

On a completely different topic:  Thank you to all who wished me well for the funeral of the dear friend.   I have to report that it went splendidly.   My dearest friend M, (it was her husband who had passed away), bore up very well.   And, goodness me, what a wonderful send-off they gave this splendid man.   He had been a military man, serving in Burma towards the end of the Second World War and then in Japan.   He had been an active member of both Burma Star and British Legion and every one did him proud. He was piped into church with the Skye Boat Song and out of church with Amazing Grace.   The farmer, along with several other villagers and two of his step-sons, was a bearer.   His step-grandson, who is a soldier (and who was wounded in Afghanistan) read the
Kohima epitaph and we stood for The Battle Hymn of the Republic.   He would have loved it.

I'm sorry to have gone into italics, I think it happens when I accidentally press a particular key.   Can anyone tell me how to get rid of it please?         


Elizabeth said...

I admire your organization! I am semi-organized since I had to prepare five lessons a day for 130 children for 25 years!
The funeral sounds beautifully done. How one wishes the one being honoured would be able to know how much they are loved...and perhaps they do.
Wishing you both a super Christmas with all the trimmings.

Em Parkinson said...

The last few years my lists have graduated to Excel rather than paper but, like you, sanity is the issue here. I can't enjoy the run up to Christmas unless I know everything is done. You're right - most people find it incredibly irritating but if they tried it, they would understand what a good feeling it is! Happy Christmas!

ArtPropelled said...

I'm another semi-organized person. At Christmas time I have to have lists or I might forget someone or something important. The thought of rushing out to buy gifts or food the day before Christmas is too daunting. During the rest of the year I will keep a holiday packing list and the grocery list. I've learned my lesson! The one time I didn't write a holiday list I left too many important things behind.

Rachel Phillips said...

I do not write lists or prepare things early. I am happy to leave everything until the last minute. In fact I suppose, in its way, this is my way of being organised. I know that on Christmas Eve I will have to buy everything I need and my mind will be focussed. As far as I am concerned Christmas is not even near and life is going on at the moment pretty normally. I admit to writing and posting six Christmas cards. My farmer gets the turkey for us and I am told that it is still putting on weight somewhere in south Norfolk. It will arrive on Christmas Eve and I will get up on Christmas Day and put it in the oven dsand light the fires. We too will just be the two of us. However, I don't mind people who are organised in a different way!

Gwil W said...

Very wise of you not to go out in the car in the freezing fog. So not only organized and creative but wise too. What a combination!

Heather said...

If I didn't write lists I'd be lost - they are a godsend. I'm just about ready apart from fresh vegs and a few last minute bits and pieces.
What a wonderful send-off your friend's husband had. I hope M and her family were able to draw comfort from it.
Hope the weather doesn't put a stop to any other plans you have - it is so changeable almost from one day to the next.

angryparsnip said...

I also admire your organization !
I am a semi organized. .. I write small list and tape them on the door to the garage. So I know what I have to do when leaving the house.
I like to shop early and get things done early that way I am not running around last minute.
I like to enjoy the season.
All the cooking you have done sounds wonderful.

cheers, parsnip

Pondside said...

I enjoyed reading about your preparations. I've just taken a break from decorating - late, I know, and the tree will go up tomorrow. I'm feeling quite relaxed about it all this year. We will be six for a Danish Christmas Eve and then are invited out for Christmas Day, so preparations are few.
Stay warm up there!

The Solitary Walker said...

Nothing wrong with keeping everything organised, Mrs Weaver!

And homemade mince pies straight out of the oven are FANTASTIC — not a patch on even the best and most expensive shop-bought offerings.

Cloudia said...

Glad the ceremony was right and fitting. Best!

Weekend Aloha from Honolulu
Comfort Spiral
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The Bug said...

I'll come out of lurk mode to let you know that when you press the "ctrl" key along with "i" you get italics. Doing the same thing turns it off again. It's easy to do since the "ctrl" button is usually just beneath the shift key.

MorningAJ said...

Well done Bug. I was just about to say that. :)
I write lists too Weaver. I love being able to cross things off when they're done. We would never have got through everything yesterday without one.

Dave King said...

I do make lists, but then I either end up with lists of lists or I mislay them. I'm afraid that unlike you I have not kept honed my organisational skills in retirement.
Interesting post.

Irene said...

I'm an organized person and make lists. I'm usually ready way ahead of any event and feel a great deal of peace and quiet when I am. My motto should be: Be Prepared!

Granny Sue said...

I used to be very organized with lists and such; now I just get done what I get done and let it be. I've down-sized the holiday doings considerably in the last few years, and I must admit I like it better.

Funerals can be so sad, or they can be a celebration. This sounds like a celebration of your friend's life.

The Weaver of Grass said...

Thank you Bug for coming out of hiding to tell me how to get rid of italics - I am very grateful.
Thanks to you all - most of whom seem to be well organised for Christmas. Hope you all have a lovely one.

JoAnn ( Scene Through My Eyes) said...

I am organized and love lists. I have started making some of the lists on the computer and figured out how to cross out words, which is fun and very tidy.

It will be a slow christmas for us - I will stay home from the celbrations as I'm recovering from emergency back surgery and not ready to be travelling about. My husband will have brunch with our two daughter's families and be there for the grandsons to open presents - and then we will spend the rest of the quiet day at home - it sounds like just what I need at this time, so my lists are very small this year, but I'm happy just to have the surgery behind me.