I’m back. I don’t quite know where the end of last year went. I remember it was stressful. There was much disruption in the interrupted family. Illness, arguments, stressful jobs, new qualifications, laughter, tears, big decisions, big dramas and way too much wine. Definitely ‘level 2’ fun (i.e. fun with hindsight) and even then it’s a bit tenuous. I’m not the only one in my friendship group to be glad to see the back of 2019, there’s been some nasty stuff going down and there have been some pretty sharp reminders of the pressures and pitfalls of living this kind of life. Some changes are needed and now I find myself on the other side of Christmas in a brand new decade, the seconds ticking down to my 40th birthday and weighing up my options for what to do next. Luckily I still have the Christmas cake to see me through it. A daily slice with my morning coffee takes the edge of these cold, dark and wet days and has long been a traditional ritual in my family to ward off the January blues.
I love Christmas cake, but I love it most after Christmas when the fairy lights are down, the kids are back at school and you’re too skint after the festive season to treat yourself to a scone down the garden centre. It warms the soul and takes the edge off the gloom of going back to work and the end of a diet of pastry, cheese and chocolate. If nothing else the heavy lacing of brandy in mine definitely helps with the pain of going cold turkey. I will put off cutting the cake for as long as possible over Christmas to ensure I have enough left for the long weeks ahead. This is a cunning technique I learnt from my own mother, whose beautifully iced cake was only to be looked at until New Year’s Eve when it would be cut for my Dad’s birthday cake even though (or perhaps especially because) he doesn’t much like it! It was therefore left for her to enjoy in peace once he had buggered off back to wherever he was working and we were safely locked up in the classroom. It’s a genius plan. The making, stirring, feeding and decorating of the cake is a family affair in my house, just as it was when I was little, the eating of it, however, is most definitely an interrupted family mother’s prerogative.
Here’s to 2020 and the next ten years of highs and lows. I learnt in the last decade to let go of my expectations of how life is going to turn out and embrace whatever opportunities come my way with gratitude and a keen awareness that they will also be tempered with their fair share of failures. As long as I have Christmas cake in January I think I am ready for it.