Slice of Life Tuesday: Of Christmas puddings and the year

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Every year, right after I’ve recovered sufficiently from all the Thanksgiving preparations, I roll up my  sleeves and get to work on the centerpiece of our Christmas Day dinner: the traditional English Christmas pudding…

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It takes several hours to assemble, mix together, pack and then steam this once-a-year treat.  I follow a basic recipe, adding extras of this or that, depending upon what’s at hand (or what’s not, which is more likely the case).  Family members pass by, offering unsolicited advice and encouragement, and our dog stays underfoot in the hopes of some stray tidbit coming her way.  Sometimes, my mother may call as I am measuring and mixing, and even though she is far away in her London kitchen, I feel her close at hand – delighted that I am “going to the bother” of constructing the pudding for yet another Christmas celebration, and sad that  she will not be at our table to enjoy it.

There is always the element of surprise in our Christmas pudding.  It steams all day, once again, before it is inverted onto a silver plate, doused with whiskey, garnished with a spring of holly, lit,  and then brought out to the dining room table with great pomp and flourish.  But, there is also trepidation. Will it emerge from its mold in one piece or misshapen? And how will it taste this year – cinnamon rich, or more nutmeggy?  Will the little experiments prove to be successful – should I have stuck with the usual marmalade  instead of the ginger-spiced one I discovered  on the way home from Washington County? Will there be enough for everyone…a second helping for some?

But all doubts soon vanish in waves of compliments, celebration, and relief.  Yes. Another Christmas pudding has passed muster. We raise our glasses and toast puddings past, pudding present, and puddings to come.

And so it is, I think, with this year that is now coming to a close.  It wasn’t perfect, some experiments were more successful than others,  there were risks that paid off…and others that didn’t.  I tried new things, embellished old ideas, and did away with a few. I learned a lot about the people in my life, and even more about myself.  I know now, more than ever, what sustains me.  And i know, too, what I need to let go.  There were surprises, too, some hoped for, expected and joyful, and some that filled me with sadness and even fear.  There were reunions this year, and empty places.  It was all part of the mix.  2013.  It, too, passed muster.

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20 thoughts on “Slice of Life Tuesday: Of Christmas puddings and the year

  1. I love the tradition you’ve written about…and how you compared it to the past year. What a gift to have a better idea of what sustains you! Good luck being open to more lessons in 2014.

  2. Reminds me of my parents, collaborating on the Thanksgiving stuffing. I’ll bet your kids will keep memories of this annual preserved in their memory banks. I want some 🙂

  3. I love the message of your slice — so important to take risks and let go of the worries. I love your tradition and I love that is one that pushes you to let go a bit. I am sure your familiy treasures the stories of Christmas puddings past, present and future. Thank you for hosting this and bringing the tradition of slice into our lives.
    Clare

  4. Oh my word Tara, I have never had Christmas pudding and now I want to try it so badly! You give your family the gift of tradition (not to mention yumminess) each year. How wonderful that you are able to do this. Happy New Year to you and yours!

  5. Love your new heading Tara-I can hear his voice! And love the message you’re sharing with the ‘ways’ of the pudding creation and life itself. So happy that your end of year taste buds were satisfied! Happy New Year to you and yours!

  6. Traditions are threads that allow families to hold on to moments in the past and weave a future. Your pudding looks amazing! I loved the process with each adding their bit to it. Happy New Year Tara!

  7. What a wonderful recap of your year…topped off with Christmas pudding! Thank you for your part in TWT. It has been a joy participating in this community. I have enjoyed reading your words this year and look forward to 2014!

  8. Tara, I’ve never had an English Christmas pudding, but I’ve always wanted to bake a sticky toffee pudding. I’ve saved numerous recipes and one of these days…
    Black-eyed peas on New Year’s Day is a must in my family. Tonight, three grocery stores and no canned black-eyed peas. What’s with the sudden interest in a Southern tradition by people in the Northwest? Your post reminded me to head downstairs to soak the dried black-eyed peas overnight.

  9. I love traditions! They bring something familiar to the holidays. People or locations may change, but the food stays the same (at least some of it). Congratulations on the new blog, and Happy 2014!

  10. Someday I hope to taste a Christmas pudding – yours sounds delicious! And I hope to cook more in the new year – as for now, I feel the same concern and trepidation with each involved dish I prepare! On another note, what a great comparison between the pudding preparation and the past year – this line says so much: “There were reunions this year, and empty places..” I wish you all the best in 2014!

  11. I’ve always wanted to taste Christmas pudding. It sounds wonderful! Reading your post makes me think that we are on similar journeys…not always easy, but always worthwhile. Here’s wishing you a very happy and blessed 2014!

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