I'd been thinking for weeks now about what would be a very good Christmas for me. What I wanted didn't seem right by anyone's standards.....except my own. And somehow things worked out in just the odd way that I would most have wished. Perhaps I wouldn't want the same next year but it was just right for me for this Christmas.
Last night we had our carols and candlelight service at church, and our little sanctuary was unusually full. It was really very nice.
Daisy wasn't in a foul mood this morning. Well, she only bit me once or twice. I decided to abandon my plans of a tea tray in bed in favor of eating pancakes (with extra sour cream) in front of the computer watching streaming video of Arashi's Christmas performance on Japan's Music Station today--they created an image of a Christmas tree with their hands, and that made me smile.
Then I opened the cards and presents that were under my little tree. People were so kind to share with me, and I'd already given out my presents to them earlier. One thing that I had most specially wanted was under the tree: Jan Karon's newest Mitford novel, Come Rain or Come Shine. Reading fiction is rare for me but making a visit to Mitford is an exception. So this morning there I sat in my reading corner next to the tree, and I opened the book at page one. It was so nice to sit there quietly just reading with no pressure to do anything but read.
When I got a bit hungry around noon, I made the silly lunch that I'd been wishing and thinking about for a long time: a vegetarian version of toad in the hole. My mother used to make the real version with sausage sometimes but I haven't had it since I became vegetarian more than half a lifetime ago, and I've missed it. (Let me say that I did not become vegetarian voluntrarily; I did it because my doctor said the magic words, "You can eat meat. Or you can live." Simple choice when it comes right down to it, don't you think?) The toad in the hole didn't really puff up properly but it was very tasty, so I plan to try it again soon using a different method. And I made a lovely carmelized onion gravy to go with it--that's worth making again and again and again.
Then I went back to my book. Kept reading for hours. Gave Daisy her present from under the tree: homegrown organic catnip. She was thrilled, and then spent rather a lot of time sitting under the dining room table looking a bit drunken.
Finally, as the afternoon drew on, I chose from my various bits of china and decided upon setting up a pretty mismatched pottery tea tray (note the proper knitted English tea cosy), ready for the teatime that I'd also been thinking about and planning for some time.
I made some Cranberry Barm Brack the other day. Takes 25 hours to prepare, totally worth the wait time--and, anyway, I love fruit cake. (Yes, I know that every other human being in the world despises it; I just happen to be smarter than that--folks don't know what they're missing!)
And I made a simple trifle with blackberry jam and French vanilla pudding and sponge cake and brandy and whipped cream. So good.
Then I made cheese spread with Tillamook and butter and sour cream which I toasted under the broiler on little heart-shaped pieces of caraway bread. (Yes, I used a little heart-shaped bread cutter. What? Don't you have one? You should!)
Then I discovered that the unclaimed box of chocolates by my front door were English! Perfect to add to this tea. (I had bought several small boxes of chocolates as neighbor presents so I'd have something for anyone who stopped by, but when all was said and done there was just one left so I thought it must surely be for me--so it really fun to discover that these were English chocolates and that every piece in the box was a different variety--so there will be more to enjoy with other afternoon teas this next week if I can manage to ignore the box in between times.)
There was real cream for the tea--hey, I really did plan this ahead. And the tea itself was English, too.
I guess it was just sort of all-round English day no matter where you looked this Christmas at my house (well, aside from the Japanese music on the CD player while I was in the kitchen cooking--I saved most of my Arashi Japonism CD to listen to today for the first time).
And, in fact, I watched an English movie while I was enjoying my tea. I had searched for the movie on eBay but decided not to buy it. But when I went to the dollar store a couple of days ago, there, amazingly, it was: a copy of the very movie DVD that I had been wanting. Who'd have thought it? In small-town south Mississippi, I found the The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, so I thought that must it be mine, too. And a very satisfactory movie it was, too.....as was the teatime. (It occurs to me that the title may sound like something it's not--the movie is actually about a bunch of British retirees who can only afford to live in an inexpensive run-down hotel in India.)
I am stuffed, so supper is looking a whole lot like nothing more than a plain bowl of porridge and I'm fine with that.....hey, that's traditionally English, too!
And that was it. My Really Lovely Christmas.
Aside from a single text this morning and several last night (which, it must be said, woke me from a sound sleep), I haven't heard from a soul (for which I have been deeply grateful). No pressure. No concerns. Just blissfully quiet and satisfactory. I enjoyed my alone holiday, and it was precisely what I wanted this Christmas.
I'll be looking forward to re-joining the world tomorrow because I do like people as a general rule.....I just like time by myself very much.
But right now, I still have one more chapter of that book to read, and I think I'll just go do that.
I hope your Christmas was blissfully pleasant, too.
(can't credit the arashi screencap, sorry--it was reblogged many times before I found it; thanks to the original poster, though)