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Saturday, December 5, 2009

Countdown to Christmas with Jane Richardson

Hello and welcome to Day 5 in my Countdown to Christmas Blog! Today’s featured guest is Jane Richardson. Jane is chatting with me about some of her fondest Christmas memories. And with the snowflakes swirling down on the bristly pines, coating the branches like spools of angel hair, it’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas.

Oliver, donned in his Santa cap and reindeer antlers, puts his favorite tune on the stereo and sings along with glee.

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas,
Everywhere you go,
Take a look in the five and ten glistening once again
With candy canes and silver lanes aglow
It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas.

Humming along, he hangs candy canes on the tree. Hearing the silver bells jingle on the door, off he runs to greet Jane.

Sharon hugs her friend as she rushes in, her cheeks all aglow from the cold. Merry Christmas, Jane! You look a bit chilled. Have a seat in front of the roaring fire. Oliver, do bring us some wine and cheese, please!

Oliver, still singing, winks at Jane as he pours mulled wine into two glasses. He unveils a piping hot loaf of crusty bread and Blue cheese. Handing her one glass, he snatches up the other with his jack-be-nimble fingers.. Merry Christmas, Jane!

Sharon: Ah, Oliver, wasn’t that wine supposed to be for me, your boss? You know I haven’t gone shopping for your present yet, but…

Oliver, taking on the role as a magician, produces another glass out of thin air. Pours it for Sharon.

Sharon: Thank you. Sigh. So Jane, do you have a favorite Christmas memory near and dear to your heart?

Jane: You know, with children in the house, you always think ‘well, that was the best Christmas ever!’ every year, and then the next one comes around, and they’re a little older and do things differently this year, and have different interests, but they still love Christmas to bits. You see them grow and change and yet still retain that Christmas magic inside them, and I don’t think that ever really goes away. I can honestly say that every Christmas brings its own unique moments, and adds to the memories of all the years of the children growing up, and each one will always be special to me.

Sharon: That’s lovely. And how about a favorite tradition? You know how I adore them and cherish them. Please share.

Jane: Making decorations for the house in the lead-up to the big day, everything from simple paper chains or cinnamon stick bundles to embroidered and scented felt hearts. I love sitting around the table with the children, a selection of Christmas songs playing and maybe a glass of mulled wine nearby. It’s a lovely way to get everyone involved in the preparations, and it’s so relaxing – a lovely way to ignore all the madness going on in the shops and the town and remember that the special thing about Christmas is all being together at home, safe and warm and happy. That’s what matters.

Sharon: How very true. And you know another thing I love to collect at Christmas is those recipes that have become tradition, passed on from generation to generation. Do you have any to share?

Jane smiles, reminiscing. I do. And here it is from me to you!

Daddy’s Golden Toast!

When we were little kids, it was a tradition that Dad always made the toast for us on Christmas morning. Most of the year he’d be at work, of course, so having him around in the holidays to do ‘cooking’ things always seemed like such a novelty when we were small! Well, over the years, ‘Daddy’s Golden Toast’ developed into a huge part of our Christmas morning tradition. It was just ordinary buttered toast, but he’d make sure it was done to a perfect gold, buttered lavishly right up to the edges, cut into perfect squares and served with great ceremony, still piping hot, on the best china. It still makes me smile to think of it, how my sister and I used to squeal with delight when the toast arrived. As with the best traditions and the very best seasonal recipes, it’s found its way into my own family Christmases, only now it’s my husband who is ‘Daddy,’ and who makes the extra-special golden toast on Christmas morning!

Sharon: Mmmm. I love it. Thank you for dropping by to chat with us during this busy time, Jane. Wishing you and your family a very Merry Christmas!

Oliver rushes over, mistletoe in hand. Holding it above Jane’s head, he steals a kiss, running off, his heart all a flutter!

Take time to reminisce this holiday season. The magic of Christmas will make all the hustle and bustle come full circle! What’s that, Oliver? Sharon slaps herself. But of course. How could I forget. Jane has a Christmas Wishes Contest on her blog, Home Thoughts From A Broad, so don't forget to enter!

Oliver once more elbows Sharon in the ribcage, nearly knocking her over. All right, Oliver, give me a moment, will ya, while we check out the lovely photo on today’s blog. Yes, Oliver, I agree. All those sparkles puts one in the Christmas spirit!

Scots-born Jane Richardson now lives on the south coast of England where the sun always shines and it never, ever rains, not ever never. She lives in a state of permanent yet jolly chaos with her husband, two children (she thinks they might be hers), several felines, a pooch, a tank full of goldfish and an invisible fox who barks beneath her window every night and keeps her awake. She’s been a management trainer, a stage manager, a dresser and part-time costume assistant and a holistic therapist, so it’s fair to say she’s Been About A Bit!’


Sharon Donovan said...

Let's have a warm welcome for Jane Richardson. Welcome, Jane! Those are such lovely memories, and isn't that one of the best parts of Christmas? Making memories to pass on from generation to generation. Come chat with Jane and me. Have a seat in front of the roaring fire and relax with us. Oliver has made plenty of piping hot coffee, tea and hot coco, along with oven-fresh fudge brownies, sugar cookies and chocolate chips. Come in and take a break from the hustle bustle...

Jane Richardson, writer said...

Good morning, Sharon and Oliver, I'm ready for a nice cup of coffee!

It's always so lovely to be in your company, Sharon. Yes, I do beleieve that's one of the best and most important parts of Christmas, sharing family things, stories, memories, and making new memories to pass on. As you know, we don't have a Thanksgiving holiday here in the UK, so Christmas-time is very much a special opportunity for us here to give thanks, in all our many different ways, for what we have.

There's such a feeling of love around this time of year - oh, yes, it's out there, hidden behind the 'Sale!' and 'Buy This!' signs! If we all just take a moment to look for it and feel it, it gets better as the season goes on, I'm sure of that. :)

I'm so looking forward to hearing about other people's special Christmas memories today, so I do hope some friends will stop by and share!

Jane x

Lindsay Townsend said...

Thank you, Sharon, Jane and Oliver for this wonderful trip down memory lane and celebration of Chrismtas past and present!

Sharon, I hope you enjoy your hot cofee and cocoa- sounds delicious.

I love Oliver's Xmas hat.

Jane - your Daddy's Golden Toast sounds very special indeed. A lovely memory.

Sharon Donovan said...

Ah, good morning, Jane. I was going to say you're up bright and early, but I imagine it's oh, around nineish in the UK? But anyway, yes, Oliver a cup of coffee for me, too! You know, Jane. Another tradition in my family passed down from my mother's side is the breaking of wafers on Christmas Eve. We have a candlelit dinner on Christmas Eve, but not before sharing wafers. They are bought and blessed by many local churches and as the tradition goes, each person at the table gets a wafer the size of a cookie. Then after a prayer is said, each person exchanges a piece of wafer with all at the table, the tradition being share what you have with others. It's quite lovely, actually. Oliver appears, coffee pot at the ready, winking at Jane with a roguish grin.

Jane Richardson, writer said...

Lindsay, thanks for popping over, lovely to see you! I hope you haven't got designs on Oliver's hat, I'm planning on pinching it before the day's over! Oh, OK, Oliver - borrowing it! ;-)

Jane x

Jane Richardson, writer said...

Hello Sharon, yes, I've been up bright and early this morning, now it's time for elevenses! No more coffee for me, thanks, Oliver, but I'll have a herbal tea if you have one, dear boy!
Sharon, that's a lovely tradition. If Christmas isn't a time for sharing what you have with other as much as you can, then I don't know what is. :)

J x

Sharon Donovan said...

Hello, Lindsay. Thanks for dropping by to chat with us today. And here comes Oliver with herbal tea for Jane and hot cocoa for Lindsay. What's that Oliver? You love it when women fight over you? Well, dear lad, I do believe the ladies were arguing over your Santa cap! Sigh

Mona Risk said...

What a lovely post! And it's so refreshing to see you remembering Daddy's toast. You are putting me in the Christmas spirit. In two weeks my apartment will fill with children again. Mine are grown but the four grandchildren--two are 5y and two are 3y--make themselves at home the moment they arrive. Thank you Jane and Sharon, and a big hug to Oliver who helped Sharon, Lyn, and Mary making my day very special on Friday.

Jane Richardson, writer said...

Hi, Mona - yes, it's the simplest things that are often the most treasured memories, aren't they. It sounds like you'll have a lovely houseful over Christmas! I hope you all have a super time. :)

Jane x

Sharon Donovan said...

Hello, Mona. Yes, I ditto what Jane said. Sounds like a houseful of glee and isn't that enough to make us all smile! We very much enjoyed roasting you yesterday. It was great fun and a real celebration. Jane, we hope you will consider letting us do a roast for one of your books? Anyone interested, please check out the Author Roast and Toast

And while you're at it, don't forget to enter Jane's Christmas contest on her blog! I know I can't wait. As a matter of fact, I'd better run off now and do that, Jane. Please help yourself to more tea and snacks when Oliver stops admiring himself in the mirror.

Keena Kincaid said...

What a great post. I'm now filled with warm Christmas memories and am trying to decide which is my favorite. I think you're right. Christmas just gets better and better every year.

Happy Christmas, everyone!

Hywela Lyn said...

Hi Sharon and Jane
Just popping in to say hello after a somewhat hectic day. Memories are what makes Christmas special arne't they. One of the things that make me think of Christmas, is the Christmas smells. Turkey roasting, the smell of pine needles, tangy fruit and cinnamon, and so many other Christmassy smells.. Cigar smoke always reminds me of Christmas too. It was one of the few times my father used to smoke cigars. I know it's not the done thing to smoke these days, but it always makes me think of when I was a little girl and Dad would light up a cigar after Christmas dinner

Jane Richardson, writer said...

Great to see you, Keena! I also think Christmas gets better every year because we're all just big kids at heart!

Jane x

Jane Richardson, writer said...

Hi Lyn! No, you rarely smell cigars these days, but what an evocative scent. I love the smells of Christmas too, all the spicy scents....I just made up an oil mix of cinnamon, orange and clove to go into felt hearts and the like - it's yummy. Couldn't possibly be any other time of the year!

Jane x

Sharon Donovan said...

Hello Keena and Lyn. So happy you popped in with pleasant wishes and memories. Do stay for some refreshments and sit with us a while. Lyn, what a nice memory of your dad, the cigar smoke after a yummy Christmas dinner with all the trimmings. And there is nothing like the smell of fresh pine to get you in the spirit of Christmas. Jane, I fill baskets with that Christmas scent every year. The combination of oranges with the spices is out of this world! Lovely!!

Jane Richardson, writer said...

Scents are so evocative, aren't they? And speaking of scents, I have some dishes in the oven myself right now, smelling gorgreous, and it means I must leave for a while as we have friends coming to dinner this evening. Thank you SO much for having me over, Sharon, and I'll catch you later! Oliver - lend me that hat!!
catch you all soon, :)

Jane x

Judy said...

I love the smells of Christmas in my kitchen. It won't be long before I start my baking. The children have already started asking where are the sweets!!

Julie Robinson said...

Hi Jane and Sharon

I love the memory of your Dad's special toast. It made me remember my Grandpa's toast. Not that it was at Christmas time, necessarily, but it was special because he would buttery toast in the toaster oven (not a toaster), and it was always the best toast.

We only got to see my grandparents twice a year because they lived in another state. So the toast was special indeed. My sister remembers that too, which is why years ago when she lived with me, she got me a toaster oven so i could make toast like Grandpa did.

Julie Robinson said...

Oh, and I hung on to that toaster oven til just a few years ago when the DH finally insisted we needed a new one.

Thanks for sharing your memory, Jane.

Linda Swift said...

Jane, it was so nice to read about your special Christrmas memories. All these posts have really put me in the hoiday mood. And I agree there is something about the season that brings out the best in people, in spite of the commercial hoopla we are subjected to. I'll try to visit your web site also.
It's been a long day, traveling from Tennessee into South Alabama en route to Florida. Saw snow this morning in North Alabama so we are going south just in time. Linda

Jane Richardson, writer said...

Hi Judy, Julie, Linda - Judy, enjoy your baking! Nothing lovier than the scent of fresh-baked goodie in the kitchen!
Julie, I love the story of the toaster oven and your Grandpa's toast, and you're right, it's not the same with a toaster!
Linda, I'm glad you've travelled safely and that your happy Christmas mood carries along from now on!
Lovely to see you all, thanks so much for coming over!
Sharon, as always - thanks for everything you do. :) I'll see you again next week.
Oliver - no words can express how fabulous you are!

Jane x

Sharon Donovan said...

Hello to Judy, Julie and Linda. Judy, the smells of oven fresh cookies and baked goods is great, but at Christmas, a bit more magical. Julie, what a lovely memory of the toaster oven. I agree, it made the best bread, so crunchy. Thanks for sharing. Linda, hope you are rested after your travel. I'm glad you got a little snow, just enough to sing a verse or two of "Let it snow let it snow let it snow!"
Thank you all for popping in to chat with Jane and me. Wishing you all a very Merry Christmas!

A special thank you to Jane Richardson for being my featured guest. Jane, always a pleasure to chat with you! I hope you had loads of fun at your dinner party. Oliver and I look forward to your return in a few days.
As always, special hat's off to Hywela Lyn for adding the decorative graphics to my blog. Yu rock, Lyn!
Until next time, may the luck of the Irish be with you as you travel through life.
Love and blessings,