Ed­i­tor’s let­ter

Woolworths TASTE - - Contents - Fol­low me on In­sta­gram @KateWil­sonZA

TO EV­ERY­THING THERE IS A SEA­SON – a time to plant, a time to pick, a time to weep, a time to laugh – a time to ev­ery pur­pose on Earth, to para­phrase Ec­cle­si­astes.

I’m not usu­ally one to quote Bible verses, but right now, ’tis the sea­son to won­der where the year went and why we only eat mince pies at Christ­mas. We eat hot cross buns all year, why not mince pies?

That dizzy feel­ing that ev­ery day is hap­pen­ing in fast-for­ward be­comes al­most un­bear­able around the fes­tive sea­son as we all try to cram two months of work into four weeks while also mak­ing lists, buy­ing gifts, plan­ning menus, shop­ping, cook­ing and gen­er­ally do­ing ev­ery­thing ex­cept what you’d re­ally like to be do­ing – spend­ing time with your favourite peo­ple.

Don’t get me wrong, I still love the Christ­mas ri­tu­als. I have vivid child­hood mem­o­ries of walk­ing through a Nar­nia-style tun­nel into a win­ter won­der­land star­ring Fa­ther Christ­mas and a lot of fake snow. It was prob­a­bly a very short, unim­pres­sive tun­nel, but to my fouryear-old imag­i­na­tion it was com­pletely mag­i­cal.

I loved all our fam­ily Christ­mas tra­di­tions grow­ing up: straw-fight par­ties, ad­vent cal­en­dars, watch­ing my mother un­pack her Na­tiv­ity fig­ures, go­ing to buy the tree with my dad who then had to spend hours un­rav­el­ling the Christ­mas lights. We would put out bis­cuits and milk on Christ­mas Eve and then des­per­ately will our­selves to fall asleep with a stom­ach full of but­ter­flies. When I see the fruit-stud­ded cakes and sparkly baubles start ap­pear­ing on the shelves I al­ways feel a lit­tle stir­ring of those but­ter­flies and re­mem­ber the lon­gago thrill of wak­ing at an un­godly hour to re­trieve our Santa sack-pil­low­cases from un­der the tree. David and Romy and I would rip open our gifts, to­tally obliv­i­ous to the joy my par­ents must have felt watch­ing us.

For more than a decade, I have hosted Christ­mas, des­per­ately try­ing to recre­ate the magic of my child­hood Christ­mases. I’d use my mother’s gam­mon recipe so my kitchen would have that same smoky, sweet smell of it roast­ing. I’d buy a tree, put out crack­ers, plan the menu, del­e­gate the veg­eta­bles and make far too much food. (Be­cause, left­overs.) But not this year. This year, I hap­pily pass the Christ­mas torch to the new­ly­weds, Romy and her Prodi­gious Baker, John. (They can cook. It will be okay.)

And this is in spite of the fact that this is the big­gest and un­doubt­edly the best fes­tive is­sue ever, star­ring Abi­gail’s most heart­felt Christ­mas menu (p 16), a record num­ber of desserts on top of Han­nah’s crazy-good cook­ies (p 72) and Siba’s favourite crowd-pleasers (p 84). There is even a bonus 16-page shop­ping sec­tion de­signed to en­sure that you spend the least amount of time try­ing to res­cue the gravy and the max­i­mum amount of time with your peo­ple (p 129).

Of course I will still cook, I might even bake, but for the first time I don’t feel the need to recre­ate the magic of my own Christ­mases past. This year, my Christ­mas joy will come from watch­ing my daugh­ter, Holly, ex­pe­ri­ence all of it for the first time. And with any luck, it will be her mem­o­ries that will shape all the Christ­mases yet to come.


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