My Christmas Wishes For You All

I know that I am blessed. I have a loving family, partner and friends.  I live in my own home, I am warm and never hungry.  I have good health and no financial worries that keep me awake at night.  So many people have none of these things and Christmas can be a cold and lonely time of year.

Regardless of religion or belief, Christmas is here and celebrated with joy by millions of people around the world for whatever reasons make it special for them.  I spare a thought for those who cannot, for whatever reason, mark the occasion.

My wishes for you all are that you have a happy, safe and peaceful Christmas, however you are spending the next few days.  May the coming year bring you health, for without that we have nothing.

It has been an incredible year for me with regard to this blog, which I started in January 2011. I have shared recipes and experiences that are special to me and those I share my life with.  Unbelieveably, people began to read and respond to my posts.  I have read and shared recipes and experiences from around the world with my new family of blogging friends.  A wonderful and unexpected bonus.  I thank you all for opening up the windows into your lives and the pages of your family recipe books.

I have almost always loved Christmas.  As a child, my parents and grandparents (my mother´s parents who lived with us) always did everything to make sure it was a magical and unforgettable time.  Lately the magic of Christmas has been rekindled for me and this year my parents are spending their first Christmas in Spain with me and Big Man.

Christmas Eve is the “biggie” here.  We will go to Big Man´s family and we will all participate in preparing a feast.  And it will be a feast, despite the fact that we will probably eat off paper plates and be all squashed up one against the other on folding chairs with wobbly trestle tables.  It gets like that when there are about 50 of you together.  Yes, you read that right, 50 people!  The menu will be simple and hearty – braised mushrooms, jamon, cheese and prawns every which way. Then we will eat goat…I think 5 have been ordered so that leftovers can be shared out and enjoyed the next day.

Guitars will be played, castanets clacked, hands clapped and Christmas songs sung.  The meal will start about 10pm and then those who want to pop down the road to Midnight Mass, or the Misa del Gallo will disappear for an hour.  Coffee and liqueurs and Spanish sweets and biscuits will be served and the last one standing will put the lights out.

Christmas Day will be celebrated Tanya and Big Man style.  We will have champagne with our breakfast, well…what the heck!  We will open stockings filled with silly and tasteless gifts and we will exchange meaningful gifts too.  We will wear silly hats and eat oysters and suckling pig and delicious desserts.  Coffee and brandy will be drunk and we may play cards or silly games and listen to Christmas Carols.  My parents will, I hope, do nothing that involves washing up.  Although I expect we´ll all be in the kitchen together preparing the meal.  I want to give them a Christmas full of happy memories.

Did you see the incredible family photo I found?  The childish writing on the back tells me it was Christmas Day 1977.  The UK was coming through a terrible economic crisis, just as most of Europe and great parts of the rest of the world are going through now.  Of course, I remember nothing of this.  I was 12 years old and looking forward to becoming a teenager in January.  Punk was new, we had celebrated the Queen´s Silver Jubilee, Star Wars was released in the UK after Christmas and I clearly hadn´t yet discovered fashion!  My brother was 9, my mother an amazingly young 33 year old and my father 42.  Times must have been hard for them and my lovely grandparents, still also incredibly young and how I always think of them.

But despite financial hardships and job concerns for my parents, we must have celebrated just as we will celebrate this Christmas.  We were together, a family, with loving friends, and just for a few days, everything was as it should be.  Peaceful, happy, warm, good food on the table and happy memories being made to treasure in the future.

I wish you all the very, very best of everything.  Merry Christmas…and here´s to whatever 2012 holds for us all.