Christmas comfort: Eggnog. Every year Lucy and I will make eggnog; none of that shop bought fluff that our American cousins appear to love so much, we do it old school. It has to be tackled when Jack has gone to bed. But then we break out the brandy, some eggs, some more brandy, little bit of nutmeg and finally a bit more alcohol. Hopefully at the end we are left with a giant bowl of liquid that contains raw eggs so you need to consume it within a few days. How comforting.
Festive fail: Preparing the turkey. It is tradition to have a turkey at Christmas in our household so that means on Christmas Eve I get the pleasure of preparing it. We will have the usual jobs of chopping vegetables and the like. Which somehow gets picked up by Lucy, so I am left with the giant cold fowl to man handle. It starts with the worst part in my mind, trying to cram some form of seasoned butter down under the skin. By the time I’ve completed this and it comes to stuffing the bird I’m at my lowest in dignity. Hopefully I’ve consumed plenty of my Christmas Comfort and I will be launching clementines at the gaping hole in the presenting bird from across the kitchen. Take that Bernard Matthews!
Christmas comfort: Putting up the Christmas tree whilst drinking Sherry! We always have a real tree and I love the whole tradition of going to buy it, transporting it home and decorating it, it smells wonderful. The children are always so excited, drinking Sherry helps me to stay calm! I never drink it at any other time of the year so it feels extra special. To me, this signifies the start of Christmas.
Festive fail: My festive fail is LISTS.... I'm the first to admit that I love a list but at Christmas my list making just gets out of hand! I am so worried that I'll forget something that I have lists for everything. So I look forward to when Christmas is over and I can go back to just one list!
Christmas comfort: When old Micky Bubbles comes out (a gift, I might add) I can't help but feel the holidays have started! With the Christmas jumper on and the antlers firmly on my head I'm ready for a day with the Burgoynes.
Festive fail: The apparent necessity for so many presents!
Christmas comfort: When I was a child I used to love to try and seek out Christmas presents that my Mother had hidden around the house. Now that I am a Mother I enjoy the secrecy of stashing away presents and the challenge of trying to out-wit my three determined, present-seeking daughters. There's something about the planning, hoarding and hiding away of gifts away from prying eyes that really builds the anticipation of Christmas for me.
Festive fail: Mild, wet and generally 'meh' weather over the Christmas period is always a disappointment. Where is the cold, crisp, frostiness and snow that you see on Christmas cards? I hate the rain at any time, but for me, rain seriously dampens (no extinguishes) the magic of Christmas Day.
Christmas comfort: A few things come to mind when I think about what I most like about Christmas, the most obvious of which is the food. Now for a bit of honesty... I am not a foodie. In fact, when I do visit a restaurant, 90% of the time I will order whatever is closest to a burger, and 100% of the time I am content with my choice. However, I do genuinely enjoy the prospect of food at Christmas time! Mince pies, Christmas cake, pigs-in-blankets, stuffing (five varieties in the Carr household!), parsnips, HUGE quantities of chocolate, dry roasted peanuts (another Carr household peculiarity), after eight mints, Nan's SAUSAGE ROLLS (that's how my brain presented that particular item!), Christmas pudding etc. All of the particular extra things that add up to create a traditional Carr family Christmas food extravaganza.
Festive fail: The absolute worst thing about Christmas is that everybody does it at the same time. Fancy going shopping during December? Good luck! It always goes the same way... You wake up in the morning and optimistically think "I should just nip out and buy that present...", so you hop in the car and go on your way. At a point that feels remarkably close to your own house, you join the queue of traffic and start to realise the enormity of your mistake. Nevertheless, you slowly crawl to the shop of your choice, where you then spend another eternity jostling for parking spaces and indulge in the traditional Christmas game of exchanging flurries of hand gestures with other drivers. Eventually you enter the shop and realise that you need to remove about 3 layers of clothing to avoid the risk of heat stroke and an embarrassing (and slow, given the traffic) trip to A&E. Even when you find the item that you're looking for you have to join the queues at the tills, where you will somehow end up adding a multitude of well placed (but unnecessary) items to your trolley/basket. Having run the gauntlet, you put your layers back on (noting during the process that you have somehow lost a single glove), and are mildly surprised to find that it is now dark outside. Exhausted, you jump in your car and prepare to join the traffic again, looking forward to being home again. You'll never make it though. Next time it's on the radio, have a good listen to the lyrics of "Driving Home For Christmas". It's been 27 years and Chris Rea is still out there somewhere, because not once in that song does he GET HOME.
Christmas comfort: A roaring fire and games with family and friends.
Festive fail: The dog's bad wind because they have eaten something they shouldn't have (which is inevitable!)
Christmas comfort: My Christmas Comfort is the advent calendar Ryan (my very soon to be husband) makes for me every year. He uses the advent calendar that his mum made for him when he was little and fills it with my favourite chocolate, sweets and toiletries and I love it. Although if I'm honest, I'm pretty sure his mum actually buys me all the presents!
Festive fail: Christmas Eve is a big night out in Coventry and my former class mates all descent upon a certain pub that night for a catch up and a drink. Unfortunately one Christmas Eve, my brother and I go a tad too merry. Which led to us eating all the bacon for pigs in blankets at 1am as we made bacon batches. And in my brothers case being so ill that he didn't eat any Christmas dinner and spent the rest of the day in bed. So I suppose that's my brother's Christmas fail and I've been given the opportunity to publicly shame him! Also, I got two Christmas dinners = winning at life!
Christmas comfort: Christmas markets! I can't pretend that this is something that has always appealed to me about Christmas, but in recent years I've really started to love them. Despite all the endless 'festive' tat being flogged, there is something I find really warming and atmospheric about the twinkling lights on all the stalls, the smells of all the different types of amazing food and the general jovial spirit of everyone around. Of course, a nice hot cup of mulled wine might also be a contributing factor...
Festive fail: Christmas music... not all Christmas music though. I'm the first to admit that I think carol singing is great and really a part of what Christmas is all about, but I can't stand the 'iconic' pop songs of recent years. For 25 days (at the very least!) it becomes impossible to escape the warbling of Cliff Richard, the deafening Noddy Holder or the general incoherence of 'A Fairytale in New York'. Whether on the TV, the radio, in shops or even on the streets these songs are played everywhere, continuously! Over exposure to these can really turn me from Buddy into Scrooge in the space of a few minutes.
Christmas comfort: When I put my tree up, it makes my flat feel all cosy and festive – really sets me up for Christmas.
Christmas fail: A few quiet drinks on Christmas Eve usually get a bit out of hand with all the festive joy and I end up spending most of Christmas day feeling a little delicate to say the least.
Christmas comfort: I have a slightly weird Christmas comfort. In fact it isn't really a comfort as it's something that puts my family through their paces and leaves them aching, but it is something that I look forward to more than indulgent treats, more than gifts, and even more than a Christmas tipple or two. My festive favourite is our family walks. This is the only time of year when we are all together and at home and I love wrapping everyone up and setting out for long hikes no matter what the weather. Wind, rain, red cheeks and muddy boots is followed by hot chocolate and warming up cold toes, and dogs, in front of the fire. A slightly off centre uncomfortable festive comfort?!
Festive fail: I'm afraid I don't have a festive fail as my amazing Christmas chef/husband is in charge of food and it's pretty much perfect every year.
Christmas comfort: I'm afraid to say, is hearing the Christmas oldies on the radio and in the shops and no, they can never start too soon!
Festive fail: Trying to get anywhere near town in December, let alone actually finding a parking space, drives me to despair and leaves me wondering what Christmas is really about!
Christmas comfort: Everything is comforting at Christmas. Love it. I'm absolutely a Christmas person... Christmas tree smells, Quality Street shiny wrappers, tangled Sellotape and patchy xmas present wrapping... and I love how it suddenly becomes completely acceptable to eat mince pies every single day.
Festive fail: Christmas shopping. It's not that I don't enjoy it, it's more that I seem to fail to plan for it every year. I never give myself enough time to get what I would like to get for my family and friends. I'm the one who is still in the shops Christmas eve and still has letters to post on Christmas day itself. I know. I'm a terrible, terrible person.
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