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I am so delighted to bring you today’s guest post for our Christmas series! Sweet Nicky writes at Salt and Sparkle, a lovely blog with amazing photos taken by Nicky and lots, and lots of talk about food and friends. You really should check her out! You can also find her on Twitter. Nicky hails from Northern Ireland, and has sent us a lovely piece sharing one of her favorite and most beloved Christmas memories/traditions. This originally aired on BBC Radio in 2010.

Magic of Christmas

Today is the anniversary of my Gran’s birthday.  We were very close.  There really isn’t a day that goes by when I don’t think about her.  When she was alive we spoke nearly all the time, sometimes several times a day.  We talked about everything; the birds she had seen in her garden, the people who had come to visit, my latest romantic panic, but mainly we talked a lot about food, what she had baked that day, what we had eaten, what we were going to eat, who was coming for dinner and where we would seat them at the table.  On Christmas Day we often had 30 people for lunch. There was a lot of preparation to do the day before.

Nicky and her Gran one Christmas

Nicky and her Gran one Christmas

On Christmas Eve, for as long as I can remember Gran and I hung out together in the kitchen – cooking and listening to ‘Carols from Kings’.  She taught me how to make stuffing, and prepare the turkey, how to cross sprouts, and peel vegetables – leaving them in bowls of cold water with wedges of lemon so they didn’t go brown – how to boil and roast the ham, with a special clove, honey, cider mixture, and how to make trifle, and fruit puddings.  As we followed ancient handwritten recipes in our family cook books Gran shared stories with me from when she was a little girl.  Stories that have become a part of my history – like when her sister, my great aunt decided to make a Christmas cake under the dining room table complete with butter, fruit, flour and no bowl – you can imagine the mess – this story has entertained people for generations.  Today as I prepare the traditional Christmas dinner for my family, I remember these stories, all her little kitchen tricks, the carols we sang and the laughter we shared and the importance of a well-set table and a good placement.  My mind is full of marvellous memories.

This winter as you prepare for Christmas enjoy listening to the stories of the older generation; they have great tales to tell and when they pass their stories pass too.  Take time to listen, to make a memory, you won’t regret it.

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