I find myself alarmed to discover that today is ‘Stir Up Sunday’. I am not alarmed about the fact that I should be making my own Christmas pudding rather than getting dear Heston c/o Waitrose to do the grunt work, but alarmed that we are actually this close to Christmas i.e. it is the last Sunday before Advent.
If you don’t mind, I think I will give the Christmas pudding a miss this year – after all, I have given the recipe a wide berth every other Christmas. If I ever find myself with a couple of grandchildren and a Christmas play list I might just make the effort to don an apron and scoop the young ones around me with floury arms, beseech them to stir some gloop and make a wish, but this scenario is likely to be some way off. (If Favourite Son and Favourite Daughter tear themselves away from London’s Winter Wonderland and get round to reading my blog this week, I will feel their virtual flinch at the mention of grandchildren. To be fair, they will be equally shocked conjuring up a mental picture of Mama J in a pinnie and entering the kitchen.)
Now if Heston really got his act together and adapted his ‘Hidden Orange Christmas Pudding’ then I would be willing to renegotiate. His current offering may be a ‘decadent pudding with an inspired zesty twist’ i.e. a candied orange masquerading inside his cider/sherry infused squidgy pud to count as one of our five a day over the festive period, but I hear no mention of Terry or his Chocolate Orange in the product blurb and so feel in no rush to prise myself away from my traditional Christmas run – up, aka binge watching ‘I’m a Celebrity Get me Out of Here!’.
During an Ant & Dec interval (#greattohaveyoubackAntbutmissingHolly’swardrobe) I mix it up as best I can and return to the Waitrose website. We have a family gathering next Saturday and I know my mother intends to clear their shelves of Chocolate Oranges as she prepares to provide us all with a going home gift. At 93 I have to commend my mother for her ability to internet shop, even if we disguise the fact that she is not really ‘driving’ her shopping order, just paying for it; my older sister is the reality behind mum’s weekly Waitrose on-line shopping fix and I feel it is best to forewarn Sis that we are still not great fans of Terry’s Chocolate Orange Dark in my household. During an ad break, I message Sis to favourite Terry’s Milk and/or Snowball range on behalf of FS and FD – the jury is still out on Terry’s Toffee Crunch and we are still lamenting the demise of Terry’s Chocolate Orange Mint (I mean, Terry, come on!)
While on-line I realise that I have clearly over-indulged in too many Christmas cookies for my algorithms appear as mixed up as my Christmas pudding should now be. I feel a knot in my stomach as Facebook identifies some recipes for vegetarian Christmas puddings; a menopausal hot water bottle on sale only during the Black Friday window (shaped as a Chocolate Orange, naturally) and a message to get off my, ‘lardy arse and enter some half marathons,’ before New Year bites my big bum. I am also recommended to like a new yoga page which promises to align my chakras and advises me to, ‘tap it, unwrap it and share a little luxury’, while my M&S wardrobe iBot reminds me that sequinned burnt orange is just the pop of colour that a washed out old prune like myself needs as she enters the party season.
I return to Ant and Dec and a total absence of Christmas in the jungle. I then feel guilty about forsaking my seasonal prep for I actually love Christmas; I use the next commercial break to research the origin of ‘Stir it Up Sunday’. I am relieved to discover that it has not evolved from some supermarket commercialism or retro Delia Smith hype but instead gets its name from this day in the Book of Common Prayer which begins with the words, ‘Stir Up, We beseech thee, O Lord, the wills of they faithful people.’ We need this prayer right now.
I call mum, hoping she will be impressed with my research and looking for some soothing platitudes about my lack of Christmas preparation, but she is clearly distracted. As well as bulk purchase of Terry’s Chocolate Oranges, it transpires that she has cleared Waitrose’s shelves of mincemeat and is batch cooking mince pies for our forthcoming family shindig as she embraces her inner Mary Berry. She breaks off while the latest pie batch receive due oven time, balances the phone under her chin and attacks her Nespresso machine (back working so Stir Up praying definitley works) for a cheeky ‘down tools’ coffee.
She is not in the mood to flatter or boost and instead decides to opine on my glass half empty state by agreeing that it was ever thus. ‘You were never lucky on mince pie romance either, were you,’ she chuckles and it takes me a minute to remember our family tradition of taking the lid off a mince pie to see how many sweet hearts – or currants – remained on the lid, serving as an indication of the number of suitors you could expect in your life. True that. ‘I just don’t care for pastry,’ I mutter and distract her by mentioning that I can smell burning, so that I can get off the line.
Shaken and a little stirred, I decide to at least get ahead of the curve for Black Friday and get some Chocolate Orange advent calendars ordered. Segsationally I discover that I can order wrapped Chocolate Orange segments, and I can order Chocolate Orange ice-cream, but I can find only one wooden advent calendar with holes to insert Twenty Four Ferraro Roche and one Christmas Day Chocolate Orange. Terry! The will of this faithful Chocolate Orange devotee is all stirred up and it feels like you are just taking the seasonal pith.
Forget the pudding and the advent calendar, the only Chocolate Oranges in this household will be those appearing in Christmas stockings; some family traditions are best left untouched. If you have decided not to make your own pudding, I have it on good authority that Heston’s Chocolate Teapot is the way to go this Christmas. A word to the wise though, they have sold out on line, so get to Waitrose before closing – you don’t want to miss ‘I’m a Celebrity’; they have just taken a Christmas Tree into the jungle.