I hope I never tire of Christmas. My readiness for it and my expectation of it change slightly each year but I love it. I hope I always will.
It's the build up, the lights, the Christmas specials on TV, the carols being played by the Salvation Army. It's waking up and going downstairs to see Mum hauling a turkey into a roasting dish while singing along to 'I Saw Three Ships' on the radio. It's children telling me what Father Christmas brought for them and showing me their favourite gift so far, a pretend plastic watch that cost 50p, while my sister looks on in agony muttering about rollerblades. It's the crackers with their rubbish jokes, and playing games after dinner...
We got our tree this week and once it was decorated with coloured lights, glass baubles and silver bells I carried on with operation make Christmas presents. I'm not making them all (I'm not that skilled or that organised), there will be bright nail polish and stripy socks for my niece and Lego for my nephew. A certain one year old will be getting a small pull along dachshund (I couldn't resist, after all I want a real one so badly myself). And for the rest? For the rest there are parcels to be wrapped and, finally, and the point of all this, there are jars waiting for brown paper covers and string and labels. There is chutney maturing and dried fruit absorbing Pedro Ximenez. I made chilli jelly last night and there will be last minute cookies and festive granola.
Then there is onion marmalade.
On Sunday I peeled and processed 2kg of onions. I cooked them down and added redcurrant jelly and demerara sugar. I added cider vinegar and balsamic. I raised the heat and it bubbled until I could decant it into jars. Eight of them. Then I ran out of the door to meet seven girls for lunch worried that I smelled like onions. That evening I didn't need much to eat so I opened one of those jars and ate onion marmalade on toast with Gruyere. Four people will be getting a jar of onion marmalade for Christmas, the rest are for us and that makes me very happy indeed.