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With any luck, God and Boris willing, this

by Ambrose Mustar (2022-01-09)

With any luck, God and Boris willing, this Christmas will be joyous and erase the sad memories of last year.
Children will be taken to the panto, churches (and pubs and restaurants) will be open and welcoming, and we can revive the traditional family Christmas.

Certainly, I'm hoping to do that. Last year we'd just moved into a new house but hadn't yet sold the old one down the lane, so between them we could accommodate everyone.

We'd planned a last hurrah to say goodbye to our home of 45 years, and to celebrate our new house. Then, with just days to go, we were in lockdown again.

I'd ordered a 20lb turkey and forgotten to cancel it.

But all was well: game slot my husband John and I had a wee roast duck, and the staff at the local care home (for whom I was cooking Friday night suppers) got an awful lot of turkey pie.

I've always loved Christmas, mostly I suspect because I am naturally bossy and it allows me to be the Queen Bee, making sure Christmas runs like clockwork.

Well, that's always the plan. But when I think of Christmases past, the disasters loom large.

Prue Leith shared advice for decorating your home this festive season as she attempts to revive traditional family Christmases.

Pictured: Prue with her dogs Teazle (left) and Tattie

 The time a nephew inadvertently turned off the oven after making his breakfast fry-up and, when I opened it at lunchtime, what should have been our slow-roast Christmas dinner was stone cold and raw. 

Or when the dog ate the ham, or the time I thought deep-frying chestnuts would make peeling them easy, and I didn't slit their skins so they exploded like fireworks, spraying hot fat all over the kitchen.

Once I served prunes soaked in port for pud.

I'd decided, since they were already so soft, not to cook them, which meant the alcohol was undiminished and, since we'd already had Champagne and wine, we all got drunk as lords. 

Then there was the year we had a Nativity play and I had the bright idea of bringing our donkeys into the Nativity scene.

One ate the straw in the crib and the other peed on the floor.


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Yet we all have glorious memories of Christmas too. Of going carol-singing with the children dressed as kings on the donkeys and me leading my horse-turned-camel (thanks to a cushion-filled hump). Of making snowmen in the days when we got serious snow in the Cotswolds. 

Of everyone stirring the Christmas cake mix and making a wish.

Of the children shouting up the chimney to Father Christmas with impossible demands. Of ‘games night' for grown-ups - mostly charades and a lot of booze.

Every family has its Christmas traditions and mine may well not resonate with yours, especially as mine are particularly old-fashioned and traditional because they started in the mid-70s and continued uninterrupted for 20 years, with my brother and sister-in-law coming to us one year and we going to them the next.

Prue said you don't need much in the way of decoration other than masses of holly with lots of berries.

Pictured: Prue with her splendid festive table

Since then, with our children grown and with families of their own and with their own in-laws to consider, the alternate-year tradition has broken down. And since between us we now boast 16 grandchildren and counting, getting all of us together would be impossible, even if we had the beds.

Moving house had me briefly deciding to junk our old Christmas decorations.

Not least because our new modern house has no mantelpieces to drape swags (garlands of greenery that taper at each end) under. I had thoughts of starting afresh with cool new objets from some expensive design shop. 

<div class="art-ins mol-factbox floatRHS femail" data-version="2" id="mol-76e722b0-46ef-11ec-83e2-a3efa903f9a1" website Leith reveals how she fills her home with festive spirit


Re: With any luck, God and Boris willing, this

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