Christmas is coming, and all over the UK it can be assumed that geese are getting fat. People, on the other hand, will generally leave getting fat until Christmas itself, the plan to lose weight being a common follow-up New Year resolution.
Before the traditional, er, binge of the big day itself, people tend to focus on everything that Christmas was never intended to include. Forget anything to do with religion – thoughts of ‘goodwill to all’ are swapped for high blood pressure, rising tempers and stress levels somewhere up near the ceiling. Getting ‘everything’ ready, buying gifts – of the appropriate level, of course – for everyone you don’t want to feel snubbed, avoiding the annual BA strikes and so forth. What a mess.
Imagine, therefore, the delight my wife and I felt when two years ago we found ourselves completely free of any obligations at all, courtesy of the weather. We were completely, utterly snowed in. We couldn’t go anywhere, buy anything, give anything, do anything at all except sit at home and enjoy being able to sidestep the whole Christmas issue. And what a luxury it was! Everything just…passed us by. But there was still the question of Christmas Dinner.
As we couldn’t go out it was clear that dinner would have to be home-grown – the only question was, what? In late December, there wasn’t very much happening in the garden…but what about the polytunnel? In our walk-in larder in the garden, we had a great contender for pride of place – a big red cabbage. I’d been saving it for, well, a special occasion. And here it was.
So, on Christmas morning I set off to the garden with my secateurs, intent on harvesting our dinner-to-be. It looked lovely – big, solid and with that wonderful heavily-veined leaf surface. I brought it into the kitchen and set it on the cutting board, then sliced it in half. O, horrors. Beneath a perfect exterior, the inside was completely rotten.
Despite the presence in the garden of parsnips, onions, chard, kale and more, the demise of the cabbage removed all interest, for both of us, in putting together a special dinner. We just couldn’t be bothered. In the end, we had cheese on toast. Happy Xmas!