Christmas is coming. I know this because we’ve put up our 18 inch, artificial, already decorated Christmas tree and pinned our decorations up and surrounded some of our framed art work with tinsel. And last night we had a Christmas mince-pie. It was very sweet. I prefer them with a bit of a boozy punch, but if you don’t try, you don’t know.
Christmas has never been a huge family affair for us because our family is widespread. My eldest brother lives in Sydney and they have their family Christmas there. In my memory they have joined us twice, once years ago when their three daughters were still teenagers and once a few years ago when they brought one daughter, her husband and six month old daughter for Christmas. Of that first all-family Christmas in Rotorua I remember playing cricket on the front lawn and my darling sister-in-law playing her guitar and everyone singing, the three wives doing the dishes together and Dad waving his present in the air, it was packets of something like singlets, underpants or socks.
My middle brother lives in Auckland and we’ve traditionally gone to his place for a BBQ Christmas Day. And my youngest brother lives in Cambridge and he has a morning brunch/lunch thing for his family and my sister-in-law’s family.
This year we have three stops to make, first at the Cambridge brunch party to drop off pressies and say “hi”, then up to Karaka to see my Aunt, my Mum’s twin sister, and then to my middle brother’s BBQ. Long day, big drive, lots of fun. We will bring the dessert component and are tossing up contenders. We now have a food processor (I FINALLY had enough Fly Buys points to get something useful!!) so the options available are larger. The Pav and fresh fruit salad is slightly ahead of the chocolate mousse or chocolate mud cake and fresh fruit salad.
Traditions are the cornerstone of Christmas. I have always loved the story of the ham bone. A young woman cut the end off the ham bone when she baked the Christmas ham. When asked why, she said it was because her mother had done it. When her Mother was asked, she said it was because her Mother had done it. When her Grandmother was asked, she said her mother had done it because the ham was too big for the dish.
I don’t have Lucas for the rest of the week as he is having medical tests in hospital. But I will have him fulltime over the Summer holidays. We have lots of exciting adventures planned. Yesterday we exploded the volcano and then it was on ‘fire’ and the fireman had to hose it thoroughly to put out the lava flow, it is paper mache, so you can imagine it has taken a bit of a beating!
The week before Christmas we’re going up to Karaka with Nana T, and he will get to meet Nana M, her sister. She lives on a farm with a swimming pool and mares and foals and lots of chickens and we’ll have a picnic under the trees. We will leave Nana T at the farm and go to Butterfly Creek for a while to see salt water Crocs and Alligators and Butterflies and Tarantulas etc. He is beyond excited about this and I’m hoping it will give him something to focus on with Mummy during the rather nasty three days ahead this week.
And so yet another in our series of tips for writers. Today’s pearls of wisdom come from Esther Freud.
1 Cut out the metaphors and similes. In my first book I promised myself I wouldn’t use any and I slipped up during a sunset in chapter 11. I still blush when I come across it.
2 A story needs rhythm. Read it aloud to yourself. If it doesn’t spin a bit of magic, it’s missing something.
3 Editing is everything. Cut until you can cut no more. What is left often springs into life.
4 Find your best time of the day for writing and write. Don’t let anything else interfere. Afterwards it won’t matter to you that the kitchen is a mess.
5 Don’t wait for inspiration. Discipline is the key.
6 Trust your reader. Not everything needs to be explained. If you really know something, and breathe life into it, they’ll know it too.
7 Never forget, even your own rules are there to be broken.