The other day was Stir-up Sunday; the last Sunday in November, before everything goes crazy for Christmas, and traditionally the day on which the family makes the Christmas cake and/or pudding.
I make a Christmas cake every year, invariably forgetting that it takes about 4 hours to bake, leaving it until the evening to cook it and then staying up until 1am on a school night while the house is warmed with the smells of spices and boozy raisins. That’s one tradition. I used to make two cakes, one for us and one for my granddad; but when my granddad passed away last year, I was left with a ‘spare’, which has sat in the cupboard for a full year.
This year, I just made one cake, and then after feeding it in the normal way (with a lot of whisky) over a few weeks, I wrapped it up and put it in the cupboard for next year. Last year’s cake has been decorated and iced (and fed with a bit more whisky), and it’s smelling beautiful.
It’s a newly-established tradition that I’m going to stick with – I love the idea that you could be somewhere completely different in a year’s time when the now-freshly baked cake is unwrapped and decorated. Whether that’s in a different place physically, or just in terms of how you’re feeling or where your life or career has got to, that anticipation of change and growth with a pillar of festive tradition to return to is genuinely cockle-warming. All the while your Christmas cake is maturing, getting tastier and more complex, waiting for when you’ve got that downtime over the festive period to reflect on how the year has gone, and how you’d like it go in the future.
2017 was also the year I decided to have a crack at a Christmas pudding too, using a suet-free version from the December issue of delicious. magazine. I waited all day for the OH to come home from work so we could take it in turns to stir it, making wishes for the year ahead and each depositing a coin into the mixture. Stay tuned as to whether Christmas pudding becomes a new tradition – if I break my teeth on a long-forgotten £1 coin, then perhaps not.
Here’s to a positive, prosperous festive season – whatever that means to you.