Friday, December 26, 2008

Boxing Day

Boxing Day which falls on the 26th December is a public holiday in Britain, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand, and has nothing to do with pugilism, or getting rid of Christmas wrappings. It was originally a day when alms were distributed to the poor, and servants/employees received gifts in money and kind from their masters.

Alms or poor boxes were placed in every parish church. Traditionally, these were opened the day after Christmas and the money distributed to the poor of the parish.

Household servants were always required to work on Christmas Day, and were given the following day off to spend with their families. It was customary for their employers to give them gifts of money and food.

It was also a time when wealthy estate owners would box up their leftover food, and unwanted gifts, and distribute them among the tenant farmers who worked their land.
All these gifts were usually placed in wooden, or clay boxes, hence the term Boxing Day.

Boxing Day traditions have fallen somewhat by the wayside, today it is seen more as a day for hitting the Christmas sales than for giving to the poor. The original concept, however, has not been totally lost, as it is still customary to tip trades people such as the postman, milkman (yes, we actually get milk delivered to our doorsteps in Britain), newspaper boys and girls, and refuse collectors. Also, many employers do give bonuses to their employees at Christmas. Today though, these tips and bonuses are usually given before Christmas.

Happy Boxing Day everyone.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Happy Christmas

I’m doing a bit of a cheat here, as I’ve posted both these items on my other blog, so my apologies to those of you who read both. It’s just that there’s not a lot happening around here, except the usual Christmasy things. I’ve been doing battle at the stores buying presis and groceries. Ensuring that the postal service stays in business by spending a fortune mailing cards and presis back to England. Decorating the Christmas tree, and hanging stockings on the fireplace for us and the cats. As well as baking up a storm. It’s also been bloody perishingly cold, my neighbor told me today that her outside thermometer registered 0°F on Sunday and Monday nights. Brrrrrr.

But I did want to take this opportunity to thank everyone who takes the trouble to stop by here and comment, and to wish you all a very Happy Christmas and the best of New Years.

I hope this joke gives you a giggle.


With Christmas coming, here’s a fruitcake recipe that will help take the stress out of this normally stressful time.


1 cup water
1 cup sugar
4 large eggs
2 cups dried fruit
1 tsp salt
1 cup brown sugar
3 oz lemon juice
1 cup nuts
1 gallon Absolut Vodka

First sample the vodka to check for freshness. Take a large bowl. Check the vodka again to be sure it is of the highest quality.

Pour 1 level cup of the vodka and drink it. Repeat. Repeat again.

Turn on electric mixer; beat 1 cup of butter in a large fluffy bowl. Add water, eggs and 1 tsp sugar and beat again.

Make surr the vodka is still OK. Cry another tup.

Turn off mixers. Chuck in the cup of dried fruitt or something. Mix on the turner. If the fried druit gets stuck on the beaterers, pry it loose with a Drewsciver.

Sample the vodka to check for consistancity.

Next sniff two cups of salt. Or something. Who cares?

Check the vodka. Now sniff the lemon juice and strain your nuts. Add one table. Spoon. Of sugar or something. Whatever.

Grease the oven. Turn the cake tin 350 degrees. Don’t forget to beat off the turner. Whip the bowl out the window. Check the vodka again.

Go to bed. Who the hell likes *!#&*^$ fruitcake anyway.

A Christmas Meme

I saw this on Jo’s blog and as it’s Crimbo, I thought I’d enter into the spirit and play along. Feel free to join in, if you wish.

1. Wrapping paper or gift bags? Wrapping paper. I’m one of those sick individuals who actually likes wrapping presents.
2. Real tree or Artificial? It has to be real, messy, but I love the smell.
3. When do you put up the tree? The weekend before Christmas.
4. When do you take the tree down? On the twelfth day of Crimbo.
5. Do you like eggnog? No, it’s too sweet.
6. Favourite gift received as a child? A doll’s house.
7. Hardest person to buy for? My dad.
8. Easiest person to buy for? Mick, he’s easily pleased.
9. Do you have a nativity scene? No.
10. Mail or email Christmas cards. Mail.
11. Worst Christmas gift you ever received? When I first moved to California, my mother-in-law always sent me tights (hose), in that ghastly shade of American tan. (Well, she was in her late 70’s then, bless her, and I suppose they were cheap to mail). The thing is, I hardly ever wore tights in California, and certainly not American tan.
12. Favourite Christmas Movie? The Great Escape. I know, I know, it’s not a Christmas movie, but they used to show it every year in England at Christmas, so I always associate it with the holiday.
13. When do you start shopping? Usually, end of October through November. I like to get everything sorted out before Thanksgiving. I can’t bear the madding crowds of Black Friday onwards.
14. Have you ever recycled a Christmas present? I don’t think so, though I may have put some in the bin.
15. Favourite thing to eat at Christmas? Turkey with all the trimmings.
16. Lights on the tree? Of course, but not the flashing ones, I hate those.
17. Favourite Christmas song? There are a few, all ancient, but I like them anyway. Do they know it’s Christmas by Band Aid, Mistletoe and Wine by Cliff Richard, I Wish it Could be Christmas Everyday by Roy Wood, and White Christmas by Bing Crosby. For carols, I think Silent Night.
18, Travel at Christmas or stay home? Stay home. Christmas in England is always so much more fun than the US, but I hate travelling in winter, and I hate flying anytime.
19. Can you name all of Santa's reindeer's? No.
20. Angel on the tree top or a star? Neither, I don’t put anything on top of the tree.
21. Open the presents Christmas Eve or morning? Christmas morning.
22. Most annoying thing about this time of the year? The crowds, and the commercialism.
23. Favourite ornament, theme or color? A few miniature sweaters I knitted my self.
24. Favourite for Christmas dinner? Turkey and all the trimmings.
25. What do you want for Christmas this year? For a publisher to show some interest in my book.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

An Award

Sarah over at gave me the above award a couple of weeks ago, and I am only now getting round to posting it. Which only goes to show how little I deserve this award, as I have been anything but a superior scribbler of late. But thank you for thinking of me, Sarah, I do appreciate it, and I do promise to mend my ways. In fact, there are quite a few things I want to change about my lifestyle come the New Year, but more about that some other time.

I’m sure I don’t need to tell you how hectic this time of year is, because you already know that. Usually, I like to have all my Christmas presents and cards bought before Thanksgiving, that way I am spared the madding crowds from Black Friday* onwards.

This year, that wasn’t possible, and last Saturday was a case in point. Mick and I went Christmas shopping in Joplin, Missouri, along with the rest of the four states, me thinks. The main highlights of the day were to be a visit to the bookstore, and lunch at a pub style restaurant that serves a pretty mean fish and chips. Now I love bookstores, and had we spent the rest of the day in there things would have been just fine, but we didn’t.

After the bookstore we went to the mall. After seeing the endless lines in every shop, we decided, forget about it, and went in search of lunch. Mick dropped me at the door of the restaurant while he went in search of a parking space on the crowded lot. One glance inside told me that fish and chips was off the menu, there was a line of about 20 people waiting to be seated.

Outside, Mick was still circling, but he was so intent on finding a parking place he didn’t see me wildly gesticulating to him to pull over. So there I am chasing him around the parking lot, and I didn’t catch his eye until he actually found a spot. The relief on his face soon turned to dismay, when he saw me.

In the end, we had lunch at a Chinese place, followed by some grazing in Sam’s Club. They have that many free samples of food on offer in that store that you really don’t need to eat lunch. Anyway, we bought a load of food to stock our new freezer, and decided to call it a day.

I bought the remainder of my Christmas gifts on-line, all from the comfort of my own home, with no sodding queues to deal with.

*For the Brits, Black Friday is the day after Thanksgiving when the whole of America descends on the stores.

The Sky at Night

Also, I don’t know if you noticed the sky at night on Monday, December 1st, if you did, you would have seen a rare alignment of the Moon, Venus and Jupiter. It was quite a spectacle. I did take a photo but it didn’t turn out too good, so I cribbed this one off the net.

Here in Oklahoma, the crescent moon was standing on end, with Venus and Jupiter to its right.

British astrologer, Jonathan Cainer, had this to say about the conjunction:

"Those two bright lights, so close to the Moon last night, were Venus and Jupiter. Their rare sunset spectacle does not, on its own, signify the end of the credit crunch. The pessimism genie has been let out of the bottle and it may take some months before enough optimists team up to chase it back in. Still, we should be encouraged by the planets of prosperity and good fortune aligning so closely this close to Christmas. It augurs well for a fruitful festive season a New Year, with a new President, pursuing new policies from which many benefit."

Let’s hope he’s right.