I am happy to report that Christmas preparations are more or less on track. The fridge is full. There are a dozen tins of cookies homemade by my mum, who is currently putting threads through the heads of gingerbread men baked for the Christmas tree. My brother found a nice blue spruce going for ten pence.
As last year the tree man tried to give us a tree for free, I have concluded that the twenty-third is considered ridiculously late for tree-buying. Oh, those crazy (post-) Presbyterian Scots. After four hundred years of condemning Christmas as Catholic, they have taken to trees and tinsel with a vengeance, beginning their celebrations around December 1. Well, at least they keep on celebrating until January 1, when they spend the day in bed, muttering something about never drinking again.
Naturally I do not mean the traditionalist Presbyterians, who still disapprove of Christmas, and it is time for Calvinist Cath to nail her anti-Christmas thesis to the Christmas tree, so let's see if it's up yet. It isn't. Oh, boo. [ALERT: Link to Protestant heresy coming up.] Well, let us look at the official media then. Scottish Christmas wouldn't be Scottish Christmas without some Scottish Christians explaining why they think it is all nonsense. Naturally they are wrong, but I admire their guts.
But to move on to my other favourite Europeans, I have already made kompot and kompot juice for tomorrow's modified (i.e. small) Wigilia supper, and the dried mushrooms for barszcz z uszkami and the wheat berries and poppy seeds for kutia are dumbly soaking. I found a bottle of krupnik (honey vodka liqueur) last week, and currently I am drinking some. So I am feeling rather calm--much, much calmer than last year. My mother, though, says she feels a bit fraught. Maybe she needs some more sherry.
"Would you like some more sherry, Mum?"
"Yes I would, thank you. That would be very nice."