Monday, 23 December 2013


Today is the day before Christmas Eve. I know this because I have suddenly become aware of all the things I intended to do, but haven't done to prepare for Christmas.  My stockings are hung, but unless Santa can swing by a convenience shop on the way here, they will hang limp and empty. I haven't packed the first suitcase and I am to fly to the States on Boxing Day, or the first day of frenetic after Christmas shopping for my American peeps. On top of being completely ill-prepared, we are having lashing rain and gale force winds in excess of 70 mph. Oh, and I have the flu. Merry Christmas. But, I digress. The day before Christmas Eve is actually a day my family celebrated for many years.

Each year for many years, my family would go to the Richardson family home two days before Christmas for brunch.  Eve, the elegant matriarch is a talented bon vivant. She would prepare a sumptuous feast of Michelin Star quality for all who had gathered. Eve is a statuesque ginger haired lady who moves with the grace of a prima ballerina. She could make cheese on toast seem regal and elegant. And whilst her offerings  were most certainly  exquisite, I am sorry to say I cannot remember a single, solitary dish. Being that I was a child/teenager  during these years of pre-Christmas repasts, I was too busy enjoying a yearly indulgence of a delicacy not found on our table except for the holidays; the CCR.

CCRs are a child's culinary equivalent to a creme brulee or bananas foster. They are sticky, gooey and cloyingly sweet. CCRs are filled with enough preservatives to survive a nuclear winter. CCRs are covered in a gleaming white gelatinous coating of icing sugar glory. CCRs, or cheap cinnamon rolls, became THE food tradition for all those under thirty at these gatherings.  Our parental units no doubt dined on hollandaise sauced eggs benedict and souffle. I'll bet they indulged in speckled grits or broiled grapefruit.  I wouldn't know. I was under the spell of those cherished CCRs and the sugar coma they induced.

We didn't just eat at those gatherings. We listened to music. Daddy would join Eve's other half, Jim, in the den and play record after record of Mahler and Beethoven and Jean Redpath and Spike Jones. The two men would compare notes on the performances and share new-found gems with each other. We would laugh and laugh as they told shaggy-dog stories and giggled like children. I could listen to Daddy and Jim for hours.

Today I find myself so very far away from home and the warmth and laughter of those gatherings. I miss the easy banter and the love. I miss  Jim and the twinkle ever present in his eyes. I miss Eve and her way of making the most mundane seem special.  I miss Jim and Eve's son Mark, whom I claimed as big brother long ago. I miss CCRs and Christmas Eve-Eve at Eve's.