I was at my aunt’s house earlier this week and one of the things I love about being there is her big pine kitchen table. It is bashed and dinged and war battered after being at the centre of the hurricane that is raising two boys! But that’s what makes it so wonderful to sit around. I sit drinking coffee, aunt is cooking dinner while talking to small child who is trying to get his dinosaurs to fight Ben 10 under the table while big child is discussing with me the finer details of the latest reboot of Spiderman and what that means to the marvel multiverse. I am battling the dinosaurs from the perspective of Ben10, opening the wine, helping aunt with dinner and also, feeling utterly and completely at peace in the middle of this mayhem. Such is the consequence of growing up in a large and noisy family…noise is peaceful, silence is too loud!
My mums kitchen is the same (which makes sense since she grew up in the same household as aunt!). its large and airy and stacked with every pan/knife/spice or ingredient required for every savoury or sweet dish that you could ever want to create, topped with a groaning shelf of books offering further advice, if required, on how to get those creative juices flowing! *tilt of the hat to Jamie and Delia*
With several separate work surfaces, there is enough room for everyone to be getting on with their own thing, while holding down separate conversations with one-another, seeking mums advice on texture and seasoning, listening to radio 2, moving the cats out of the way, emptying he dishwasher, bickering over who has who’s knife and enquiring as to whether it is time to open the wine yet! (it always is!)…should anyone find themselves in our home and not cooking or baking, the kitchen is still the place we gravitate to. The light, the noise, the laughter, the smell…it all equates to one thing for me. Family. Home. Safety. Love.
although, please dont be mistaken, we are more:
Especially on Christmas Eve. In our house we have Christmas Dinner on Christmas Eve, and we all cook a course each. I do the starter, mum and her husband do the main course, sister and niece do the dessert. Although, this may change this year as niece is old enough to do her own course and much more interested in baking than sister. I think sister may move to starter and niece and I will bash together a couple of different desserts with petit fois and rich dark coffee. (although last years white chocolate crème Brule is going to be hard to beat, we have demanded it of neice several times since…but it’s a challenge I am sure she will rise to). We may even create a nice pre-dinner Christmas cocktail to precede events. I am sure no will argue against the addition of a drink or a course in our house!
Am excited already! Niece and I have begun our discussions on how to decorate mums house for Christmas. We sat around the pool in Dubai when visiting mum in July, on July 25th to be precise (our half way to Christmas Day decorating and food confab!) and discussed such details…much to the frowns of sister and mum, who were in no rush to see in the winter times!
Usually, when mum resides in this country however, her christmas cake is prepared early in the year and fed all year round, so ultimately, i could argue that she starts her preparation even earlier than i do!
So when Christmas Eve rolls around, we shall have our lists and schedules of everything that needs doing and the times for it to be done (including when the wine shall be opened and showering and dressing times for later in the evening – courtesy of my overly developed organisational skills!) and we all get into the kitchen, Christmas music blaring and get to it.
At around 3pm the wine will be opened and the table decorated and people will start getting in showers and putting on their Sunday best. 5ish we will start eating, and with all the courses and chatting and drinking and cracker pulling and Christmas Eve present opening, we should be finished for around 10ish…since the dinning room is an extension of the kitchen the food does not need to be taken far and all the excitation happens around this one wonderful beating heart.
Of course then on Christmas day we open our Christmas pyjamas, put them on, make a big breakfast with champagne & orange juice and stay in them all day, playing board games and snacking on left overs and once again, opening the wine far too early…
I know its only August and possibly far to early to be thinking about Christmas and I have my teacher training to start soon and moving house and working and all those other wonderful eccentricities that make up each and every persons tapestry of life, but its rainy and chilly here in north England and X-factor starts this evening which is a sure indicator that Autumn is on the way and it makes me happy to think about Christmas. Although Christmas is still a few months away, mums visit is only a few days away, and the kitchen will be full, and our tummy’s will be full and our hearts will be full once again.
And I cant wait.