{23/12/2012}   Annual December traditions

There are not that many things I do every year but, in December, I now realise there are a few things I do every year and which are a huge part of my enjoyment of Christmas and New Year.  The longest-standing event is Christmas karaoke, which I have organised for at least nine consecutive years and which took place last Sunday (fabulous and festive as ever).  Yesterday, a friend and I did a recently started annual trip to get our Christmas Day food and we both had a fantastic day, preceded by dinner with three others and lots of Christmassy vibes.  Sadly though, another annual tradition, going to Whitstable (hmm, a theme!) on New Year’s Eve with a friend, won’t happen this year, though we have arranged to go a few days later so that kind of still counts.  But for someone who eschews routine in the sense of set times and days of the week (why I have never and would never do a weekly club, eg 7 pm every Monday night), I find reassurance and comfort in these December traditions.

Yesterday’s food shopping trip is getting more organised by the year.  My friend, N, booked her meat collection in advance so just had to collect and pay for it.  Quite specifically, the meat is from the Butcher of Brogdale, just outside Faversham.  I didn’t need as much, though I did collect a pre-ordered goose from another one of our annual shop (farm) stops.  As ever, we got all excited about the Christmassy meat counter and all the lovely meat – this time of year really does bring out the carnivore in me and we both had a surprisingly serious conversation about what would happen if some foul person stole my car (not a huge issue in this scenario) with our c35kg (no kidding) of meat (we concluded that if a vegetarian stole the car and the meat, that would be the worst case scenario!).  We then headed to a farm, Mallards, to get Christmas vegetables.  Again, this was more exciting than being about eight years old in a sweet shop with an unlimited budget!  We then drove round the corner, albeit through muddy and flooded country lanes, to Monkshill Farm where I collected my goose and got two dozen free range eggs, laid that day.  By this point we were full of the joys of Christmas, so much so N was singing “Mistletoe & Wine” with a little more enthusiasm than I would necessarily think acceptable for a Cliff song, but hey ho it all added to the Christmas buzz!

Our final food stop was in Whitstable at The Cheese Box to buy … well, cheese.  Lots of it.  We queued for about 20 minutes then spent as long as everyone else had at the counter, both ordering and sampling!  I love cheese, though I don’t really understand why something so rich and fatty has become a Christmas tradition as I’m not sure I’ve ever managed to eat cheese on Christmas Day, due largely to all round food consumption excess.  However, it has to be bought.

Our final stop, as ever, was for lunch (a late 3pm lunch, in part because we actually got organised and booked somewhere and that was the only available time) and this year we ate at Wheelers in Whitstable.  It’s a fish and seafood – “restaurant” would make it seem big and fancy, it’s not, there are only, I believe, 16 covers.  But, oh my, each of our three courses were utterly exquisite.  I can understand why every Christmas Eve the same 16 people dine there for the first sitting and the same 16 people dine there for the first sitting; apparently no one else will get a look-in to eat there on Christmas Eve unless and until one of the regulars dies.  I now get why those 32 people go there year in year out; some traditions are too good to give up.

We then stopped at a shop we also shopped at last year for a foil goose tray and festive serviettes before walking to the car, in the rain, laden with cheese and a few other goodies and me with my goose tray acting as an umbrella.  We got our feet wet and muddy and needed a torch to walk along the path back to the car, but it was all just lovely and Christmassy and delightfully similar to last year’s exploits!  Though we have decided to order our cheese in advance next year.  So I guess 2013 could be our most organised Christmas Day ever, but even if it weren’t it would still be a hugely enjoyable day out.




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