Its berries are red as a maiden's lip, Its leaves are of changeless green; And any thing changeless now, I wis, Is somewhat rare to be seen. The holly, which fall and frost has borne, The holly's the wreath for a Christmas morn.

- Letitia Elizabeth Landon, 1831

 

A couple of weeks ago I was startled to find myself in the final month of the year, with autumn abruptly giving way to winter. A common refrain though it might be, I can’t resist commenting on how fast time seems to be flying by. The fast pace of modern living means I regularly find myself running out of time, and often becoming quite frustrated by this. Especially at this time of the year, there’s many demands on our time and in many ways a lot of social pressures and expectations to meet. Of course because of all the wonderful things that come along with all these activities, time with friends and family, joyous food, and all the twinkling lights, I still adore it.

This year is a special one for me because I will be hosting lunch for my parents for the first time, and I have big shoes to fill. I spent a lovely morning planning the menu, using my absolute favourite cookbooks, and crafting the timetable and shopping list to be as prepared as possible, thereby hopefully minimising any stress. I’m especially excited by the prospect of the Brussels Sprout kimchi I have planned, and I’m sure I'll manage to find a good use for the incredible Italian truffle infused honey I have squirreled away for a special occasion, perhaps a drizzle on the parsnips. I am very much looking forward to the meal!

 A more challenging aspect of the whole endeavor for me is the gift giving and receiving. The scramble to get the perfect item has always felt very daunting to me, and being the recipient of gifts I've no real need for tends to make me feel guilty these days. So this is the year I will be focusing on quality rather than quantity, and for the most part I will be sticking to items the recipient can eat, drink, use, or read. Frankly with this year behind us I’ll be happy just to receive company more than anything else!

So I’m going to try and take it slow this Christmas, and work at enjoying and appreciating all that I have, especially the people in my life. This has been such a difficult and challenging year for so many, and I hope we can find a bit of peace, tranquillity, and joy in the last days of 2021. My warmest wishes go out to you reader, I hope you have a lovely Christmas!