The naughty and nice list is all well and good, and I’m sure that Santa does everything he needs to do with that. But the most important list anyone ever produces round Christmas is the one that plans out, with almost military precision, the steps needed to produce the Christmas feast at a time that has been pre-planned.
So far, in however many years of cooking it, I have not got the meal to the table on time. I have been thwarted by something just taking longer to cook than it should have done. Things have to be perfect for a Christmas meal – the turkey has to be succulent, the roasties have to be golden and crunchy, the sprouts have to be sprouty. You get the idea.
I have, tonight, painstakingly written out a list of cooking times for each and every component of the meal in a desperate hope that everything will slot together nicely. It won’t. It never does. It’s oven space that’s the problem, for the most part. I don’t remember a year where I haven’t cooked something that’s been balanced atop something else while I wait for another item to finish so that I can rearrange.
I’ve prepared a few bits today, to make tomorrow easier. But all that’s done is made today harder. Instead of oven space, I now need fridge space to store the stuff I’ve done ahead of time. Stuff that, until today, didn’t need to go in the fridge. Like some sort of food Tetris, things are balanced on things and tessellated like never before to eek out as much of the available space as possible.
And that’s all part of the fun I think. The magic of Christmas isn’t the joy on children’s faces or any of that bollocks. It’s the magic of slaving over various components of a meal for ages and it lasts about ten minutes.
But even then, that’s not the magic of Christmas.
That’s the bloody magic, right there.
Bring it on.