Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Forty-eight Christmases

... that's how many (or how few, depending on how one looks at it) Christmases I've been around for; add this year and we're looking at a total of forty-nine. Forty-nine's a fine number - I like the frank shape, red sound and nuts-and-bolts reality of it. Seven times seven. This, too, has a lively ring, redolent of promise. A tree that age has roots that reach a fair way down, respectably weathered bark, a crown capable of holding its shape in a headwind. 

Our dear friend Chrissie, whose triumphant memorial service was yesterday, was quaintly eccentric about her age. She was well-read, not least in matters numerological and esoteric so her evasiveness/discomfort/playfulness about her age has been a tad mystifying. We discovered yesterday that she'd given herself poetic license to be between one and ten years younger than she was. Good on her. We share a writer friend, who could be in her early sixties but is in fact in her mid-seventies, and who gives newspapers and literary journals a different age every time they interview her and want to know how old she is. 'What's it got to do with them?', she says, 'It's up to me how old I am. I tell them whatever I feel like telling them on the day... ' Last time there was an article about her in The Oddity (the Otago Daily Times - our local rag), she'd boldly claimed the number sixty-four.        

I'd intended to post a few Christmas recipes today since I've been cooking all day, but here I am talking about numbers and defying age. If time allows it, I'll write up a couple of recipes tomorrow or the next day. Christmas is virtually upon us - I'm still running to catch up with the calendar. I did have the happiest time in the kitchen today, however, baking up a storm with my two sons (both in their early twenties) in celebration of friends and in anticipation of their older sister's return home from the North Island. It's a joy to have all three offspring back in Dunedin for the holidays.  

D, T & I cycled through reggae, Bob Dylan, Ray LaMontagne, Preisner and Iron & Wine whilst making roast capsicum & olive compote (delicious - with anchovies, garlic, fresh mint, thyme & basil), a rhubarb & raspberry compote, dark chocolate & guinness cake, boterkoek (Dutch recipe - a family tradition), spicy roast nuts & pretzels... now this is a heavenly mix. (I made my way to David Lebovitz's recipe from Miriam Levine's blog - thank you Miriam. Thank you, David.). This is the kind of treat you'll want to munch your way through in large quantities and at immodest speed.)... What else did we make? Oh, I know - a dark chocolate and whisky fruit cake. 

I was up with the bellbirds this morning - they wake at around 5 these solstice days - and the last of the light has just dissolved the edges of the peninsula hills. It's bedtime for me, too. 

Earlier this evening, while I was filling the birds' coconut chalice with sugar water, I found my thoughts turning to those of you who live in the Northern hemisphere where the nights are long and the ground is now thick with snow. How very different our Christmases will be. I send warm wishes your way. 

Warm thanks to all of you who pop in & engage in conversation here. 

~<   Wishing you a peaceful, joy-filled Christmas   >~


  1. Peace and joy to you from the snowy north.

    Thank you for the warm snapshots of your life.

    Here's to 49 more years!

  2. And to you too, Claire! I'm so delighted to have stumbled upon your blog....can't even remember exactly how I got here -- one of the mysteries of the virtual world!

  3. My two boys and I have been baking up a storm too. So far we have baked two Christmas cakes (the first one was polished off in three days, oops) Mini Christmas mince pies, Mini nut pies, chocolate Florentine slice, star shaped stained glass window biscuits, chocolate truffles, the pavlova and two sour dough breads. I'm thinking I might have to make a Christmas stollen, but I don't have a recipe.

    I adore this time of year when you can happily while away days in the kitchen creating tasty and beautiful things and feel no guilt for either the calories or the fact you're not working!

    Have a wonderful Christmas


  4. Have yourself a very happy Christmas with your dear ones Claire.

  5. Hi Mim - 49 more years?! Why, thank you. My maternal grandmother lived (pretty well, thankfully) till she was three weeks short of a hundred, so... 98's probably not entirely out of the question. (Strength to the good folk who'd have to put up me and my quirks & foibles at that stage, though?)

    There's much to do & learn each life... I am drawn to the idea of reincarnation for this - and other - reasons; I think mostly because of the compassion and open-endedness it affords us and the way it accommodates our so-called flaws or 'mistakes' as learning opportunities. A vast subject, this...

    For now, thank you for your warm wishes. Looking forward to your blog and ongoing communication with you in the new year.

  6. T. Clear - ditto... and I'm looking forward to ongoing exchanges in 2010. Thanks.

  7. Hi Vanda - I have a slightly different-but-no-less-delicious recipe for Stollen that I could type up for you some time (in time for neeeext Christmas?!). Instead of yeast, it uses cream cheese. It's light and buttery and keeps for ages. Let me know if you'd like it?

    Sounds as though you've been having lots of fun in the kitchen on your side of the city. I'd have to say your mini nut pies (you're talking about your pecan ones, yes?) are The Best.

    Happy hols to you & your fam. Don't feel a shred of guilt for playing not working. You more than did your dash during 2009. You could take a year off! L, C x

  8. Hi Kay - I hope you found the message I posted on your blog around Christmas time. It was so great to see you back - Christmas en-famille in Queenstown sounded lovely. Will you be returning to regular blogging in the New Year? (Hope so!) L, C x