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Family Xmas

The news that my mother's best friend, a woman my sister and I grew up calling 'auntie', died of a massive stroke just before noon yesterday, seriously put a damper on our Xmas get-together. Mum was distracted and depressed, sis and myself slightly weirded out, and the children fractious; so counting the minutes, I timed my escape to about an hour after dinner. Which consisted of a first course of sweet pear and cheese salad, a main course of a vegetarian pastry (ground kidney beans and split peas in filo pastry, which my sister proudly asserted could rival any meat dish but which I personally -silently!- found rather dry and bland) with the traditional Dutch side dishes of stoofperen, i.e. pears that have been cooked in wine with cinnamon and sugar, and red cabbage cooked with apples, prunes, cloves and laurel; and that 70s fad that's remained a staple of Mum's and sis's dinner parties: halved peaches filled with cranberries. The third course, the cheese board, had been my responsibility so I'd gone out and bought us the rather obligatory cheeses Brie and Camembert, Dana Blue and Emmentaler; but also some more personal choices like Five Counties Cheddar and Blue Stilton, Crema Napolitana, a soft French cheese with walnuts and a stinking, runny, smoked Swiss cheese that I'd never tasted before but which was absolutely divine; all served with cream crackers, grapes and my own homemade rosemary and garlic bread, which I'm pleased to say went down a treat. For dessert, my sister had baked a chestnut cake, and served it with coffee, liqueur and chocolates. My youngest nephew insisted I watch Shrek 2 with him, but since his big brother and sister were also vying for my attention, I didn't see too much of it.

In retrospect, although I can say that I've had better Xmasses, last night's was by no means the worst. This afternoon, I'll go and visit my Dad like I do almost every Sunday and tonight, fix myself an easy dinner of pasta and salmon. Now, let's see if my cookies have cooled so I can take 'em with me as my Xmas gift...


Dec. 26th, 2004 05:28 pm (UTC)
Snap! Mum's offered to take her granddaughter to Australia with her, never mind the fact that I've been wanting to go since I was knee-high to a grasshopper!
Dec. 26th, 2004 06:13 pm (UTC)
To be fair, maybe they think of the young'uns as little and more controllable than "we grownups"? I was a working adult when my mom took my niece to Scandinavia. I think my niece was in the 6th or 7th grade. My mom probably thought it would be educational for her. But yes, it's maddening, too! I was actually jealous.

Poor Gamiila! You'll see Oz someday and I'll see my ancestral homelands.
Dec. 26th, 2004 07:40 pm (UTC)
Oh, I've no doubt that one day I will reach Down Under...There's no hurry, either; the place isn't going anywhere.

I think Mum enjoys being a grandmother more than she enjoyed being a mum....Don't get me wrong, there was never a question in Mum's mind that she would have children, and she wanted them more than anything, but she found it quite difficult at times to deal with us, the house, my father and her job -- with the grandchildren, there aren't so many considerations and distractions; and she's got a greater freedom to pick and choose what she will be responsible for, and what not.
Dec. 26th, 2004 10:49 pm (UTC)
There's no hurry, either; the place isn't going anywhere.

We are moving, but I think it's only 4cm a year towards Asia. I don't think the plane's likely to miss.

Where will you mum go in Australia?

So sorry to hear about her bereavement (and yours).
Dec. 26th, 2004 11:05 pm (UTC)
Where will you mum go in Australia?

Not too sure...I think she's heading to my Auntie in Falconbridge (NSW) first, and will use that as a base to make forays into Sydney and possibly Brisbane. Not sure whether Adelaide's on her itinerary this time...even if she seems to like it best of all the towns she's been.
Dec. 26th, 2004 11:18 pm (UTC)
Adelaide's not really a tourist town. There's nothing here that you can't find a better example of somewhere else in Australia. For me it's just that there's easy access to a variety of things and it's much less expensive than Sydney or Perth :)

I'm glad your mum liked the place though.
Dec. 26th, 2004 11:35 pm (UTC)
Mum's like me -- she doesn't really go for the touristy stuff, likes to get off the beaten track and find her own way around. I'm not sure how come Adelaide's made sucha good impression on her, but it must have something to do with its people and the location, I suppose. And cheaper shops, that must have helped as well! ;-)
Dec. 26th, 2004 10:50 pm (UTC)
Oh yes, and having someone to hand the grandchild back to: "There darling, rum along back to mummy. Gran's a bit tired." Such a relief. I can so relate.
Dec. 26th, 2004 11:37 pm (UTC)
and having someone to hand the grandchild back to: "There darling, rum along back to mummy.

Personally, I've found that's the best thing about being an aunt! ;-)