I love Christmas.
It really is my favourite time of year. It's a time for both a celebration as well as a bit of a relax.
Work becomes a bit easier (not in the literal sense) when you're surrounded by the cheerful smiles of people looking forward to a break.
Everyone is in a celebratory mood and moving from party to party.
In the Southern hemisphere, we're also greeted by the warm embrace of summer. In Sydney, that means the beach is once again open for use after many months of taunting us.
This all adds up to mean that this is a season where a weight is lifted off your shoulders and you're able to relax the next months away.
Christmas doesn't just happen! It takes a lot of work and preparation!
So while I was happy that this was a more relaxed time of year, it in no way meant that I wasn't going to be well prepared for Christmas day and the fun times that I was going to create for all my friends. The first thing to do was to ensure that I was surrounded by the appropriate amount of Christmas cheer. This required tinsel. Lots and lots of tinsel. It required decorations and random Christmas related paraphernalia splashed everywhere. I wanted my apartment to look like Santa Clause had thrown up in it.
With some help from the Irish, I was able to get the apartment looking truly gaudy!
With that task done, Christmas day itself began to approach.
This meant another sterling edition of "Christmas in Coogee".
This year's would be our most multicultural yet, with guests from Australia, Austria, Ireland, Switzerland, France, Germany and the United States.
Just like other Christmas in Coogee celebrations, it was also going to be a lot of work. This year, even more so than others. With a guest list pushing 20 and a lack of the help I normally received from Andy and Josh, the work necessary for this year's merriment was going to be done almost exclusively by myself.
A couple of days before the lunch, I began to cook.
Several components of what I was making for the lunch required preparations to be done well in advance. I needed to make some sponge cakes, bake some pavlovas, make the stuffing and prep the turkey. This was all in addition to the fruit cake that I had been soaking in brandy for the past 6 weeks as well.
Finally, the actual day arrived.
I woke up nice and early and began the process of baking, peeling, stuffing, boiling, frying and chopping (not in that order of course) necessary for everything to come together.
Once everything was finished, I wandered out and found myself a seat with everyone else.
Crackers were cracked, hats were put on and the celebrations began in earnest.
Food and drink were clearly making a positive mark on the gathered crowd. I've always been of the firm opinion that food not only brings people together, but it has the ability to put people at ease. So when combined with the free flowing drinks, the day was set. Fans were put on full blast to counter the heat and everyone was attacking the mountain of food I had prepared (a mountain that had grown even larger when we received an Irish contribution of a full leg of roasted ham).
After about the third helping of everything, I could see that people were slowing down and beginning to get a bit groggy.
Pavlova and trifle (and of course, the trifle was full of brandy).
I could see the look of horror on everyone's face as they realised they hadn't left enough room for dessert. This was but a small obstacle though, and when the plates of dessert were passed around, no one declined.
As they began to eat the desserts, one of the Irish girls immediately noticed the amount of brandy that was in the trifle and asked me in mild shock: "Has there been anything in this meal that doesn't have booze in it?"
I had a simple response for her.