There’s never been anything quite like a nice, decent snow storm only days away from Christmas.
Gosh, which of the pages in the book of my mind shall I turn to? In the end, just by staring at the snow outside the window, I hear my young children’s voices.
One of them has wakes up first, Andrew. Pushing his nose against the window and seeing snow, he turns on his heels and go round up his siblings. Squealing, laughing, legs shooting out of beds,
“Mummy can we go and play in the snow outside?”
“You must have breakfast first.”
I’ve always had a thing about the children eating. Some people can tell the story of their life through their shopping or clothes. For me it is food that talks.
I only started cooking when Hugh and I married. I was a young wife in full bloom but a novice cook then.
Now that I think about it, I look at food – say a bulb of celeriac, a bunch of chard, a firm and full artichoke – as I look at words.
As I seek words to express myself, so it is with food, I mix this and that ingredient to create a meal that delights the palate, nourishes the body and nurtures the soul of those I love.
Over the years, my writing and my cooking have developed together, two friends that I can turn to to help me tell my story. Two friends that help me express the self within.
If this morning was that morning, the children would be outside playing in the snow. I would be inside making hot chocolate to go with a slice of Panettone, or a chicken soup made from scratch to serve with warm bread, or chestnuts just out of the oven when the children came in, rosy-cheeked, boots dripping, tired, happy and hungry. That was years ago, I know.
Now, years later, at ten o’clock on a Sunday morning, Andrew would still be asleep as would Florentina and Robert.
Still, I know that even now, I could walk into grown up Andrew’s room, sit on his bed, bend down and while stroking his hair whisper in his ear: “Andrew… Andrew look; snow outside,” he would open his sleepy eyes, raise himself up onto his elbows and look through the window.
“We are going to have a white Christmas,” I can hear him say, and watch his wonderful smile light up his face.
He would drink the tea that Daddy made for him then go and find his brother and sister.
Everything one needs for a picture-perfect Christmas is here this year. The cold is cold enough to make you say: “Oh it’s so nice and warm here,” when you get back home from shopping this last week before Christmas.
And I know so much about food now. And it’s become a bit of a wonderful “nuisance” that I am rather proud of actually, because the children, well, Andrew and Robert more than Florentina, will not hear of having Christmas anywhere other than at home, with me doing the cooking.
And now Andrew? You don’t mind not being home for Christmas? Will you not miss my cooking?
And how can I eat any of the food you loved when you are not here, when I don’t even know where you are, when you will not be sitting in your seat at the Christmas table? The seat that you wouldn’t give up for anything, even if it meant upsetting my; boy, girl, boy, girl, sitting arrangement?
Why did you give up that seat now?
Oh Tigger, My Tigger; what happened to you? I don’t think that I can cook this Christmas without you.
I love you Andrew, please come back. Please?