Wednesday 17 December 2014

Nancy Jardine's Itty Bitty Christmas...

Wishing you a Merry Christmas 


What’s your earliest Christmas Memory?

I have always had the most awful memory so I don’t remember anything from being really young. What I do remember is the Christmas before I became 10 years old. I was an avid reader of anything I could get my hands on, especially Enid Blyton. However, I also loved to read the Annuals that my mother bought every year. The Bunty, Judy, June and School Friend, and Mandy were for me. The Beezer, Topper, Beano, Dandy, and The Broons were for my older sister who was more of a tom-boy.  The problem that year was that I knew where my mother was stashing the books during the weeks before Christmas- on the top shelf of her wardrobe. My mum had just started to work for the first time ever some weeks before Christmas and I was a ‘latch-key’ kid who went to a neighbour after school until my older sister came home. By the time Christmas Day came around I had sneaked a look at most of my books and was so disappointed in myself when it came to pulling them out of the pillowcase my mum had pinned to the end of my bed - a Santa stocking being too small for the huge collection. That exhilaration of opening a brand new book had had the edge taken off. I vowed NEVER to sneak like that again.

Do you have any special Christmas Traditions?

Not really. My two daughters spend alternate Christmas with us and with their husbands’ relatives. That sometimes means they are with us on Xmas Eve and Xmas morning but not with us for Xmas dinner. Alternatively, they are with us for Xmas evening dinner and stay over into Boxing Day. My husband and I go to them when it’s their ‘turn’ so you can imagine the variations of this as both of their mother-in-laws are nurses and are often working odd shifts. We’ve also had years when all variations of relatives have been together meaning some 20- ish around the table. We keep plans very flexible and fit in whenever. The closest to a tradition is that we always keep a small gift from our pile to put on the dinner table. We open them between our main course and our dessert – which gives us time to digest a little before the sweet stuff.

What’s your favourite festive carol or song?

I love them all! My husband is a Grinch and hates them all. The Christmas Alphabet song is a favourite. I’m not religious, but I do love the tunes of many of the old traditional carols.

Do you have a favourite festive film?

Once upon a time I would have said something like ‘the Snowman’ or ‘A Christmas Carol’ but my daughters and I have made a mini tradition of escaping together to see the big blockbuster films like The Lord of the Rings/ Hobbit/ Harry Potter etc when they’ve been released pre-Xmas, so time has changed some of the older favourites. Now that my granddaughter is 3 years old, I expect to watch a lot of the new Kiddy Christmas films.

What’s your favourite festive read?

Whichever new books I have bought before Christmas! My publisher – Crooked Cat Publishing – has had an ebook sale in December the last two years and I’ve stocked up my kindle. I’ve no idea if that will happen again this year, but I’ll be on the lookout to fill my kindle with pre- Xmas books whether they are bargains or not.  

Are you organised or do you leave everything until the last minute?

It’s usually a mix of the two. We tend to decide which meats in early December so that we can order them from our local butcher, avoiding repeats of the same meat course whenever we get together. Turkey will feature but not always on Xmas day. My husband makes a batch of Xmas puddings on a biennial basis and makes these in November. I make a heavy Christmas cake in November as well, but ice it around mid- December. Hubby is the main shopper these days and he likes to buy all non- fresh things at the beginning of December and then one of us gets the fresh stuff just before Xmas.   

Christmas Tree – real or artificial?

Real and generally around nine feet high. Our favourite kind is a Nordman Fir although we tried a new type last year – a Lodge Pole pine. It lasted well with little needle drop, had a lovely scent and had a great shape for decorating. We tend to get a tree about 10 days before Xmas and keep it up till Twelfth Night.

Tinsel or Glitter?

I use only a couple of long delicate bead wraps, but not tinsel or glitter. That said, my 3 year old granddaughter is really into glitter- so who knows this year?  Some of the decorations for the tree go back many decades and I love the day when they are brought up from storage in the cellar. I tried years ago to have a ‘more posh’ colour themed tree but lots of the old and well loved decorations weren't used. I felt short changed as that Xmas progressed and missed some of the lovely old multi-coloured glass decorations that belonged to my mother and my aunt. I now use as much as I can stuff on the tree since each item comes with a memory–especially the home made ones from when my daughters were small.

Gingerbread Latte or Orange spiced Hot Chocolate?

I’ve not tried Gingerbread Latte so I’d have a go at that! The hot choc I do like as well.

Mince Pie or Yule Log?

Mince pies are a must but not usually on Xmas Day. They are usually eaten Christmas Eve and between Xmas and New Year. New Year is also a fairly special day for us as we keep with some old Scottish traditions of seeing out the old year and welcoming in the New Year with a piece of coal for luck and warmth and a wee dram. I’d need a whole blog post to describe a traditional Scottish New Year.

Christmas Dinner – Traditional Turkey or something Different?

As explained before traditional turkey makes an appearance at some point during the holidays and the something different is often on Christmas Day. My son-in- law (younger daughter) is a great cook and makes things that are very different. We all tend to have two weeks off work over the festive period so there are many opportunities for nice meals together, though they’re not expensive dishes.

Christmas Tipple – Bucks Fizz/Mulled Wine or something stronger?

At present opening time on Christmas morning, we might have eggnog or some kind of light cocktail. Xmas dinner tends to start around five or six and is generally preceded by a champagne toast. With dinner, we move on to some yummy wines depending on what the courses are. We might have mulled wine on Boxing Day after a lovely walk- since we tend to be in the house on Christmas Day.

A fun game of after dinner charades or more chocolates and the television?

We usually play some kind of game/board game at the table after our present opening and dessert. That way we can break after a while for cheese and/or chocolates etc. If we play something like monopoly or a trivial pursuit type of game, we might still be at the table at midnight and beyond. With two little kids around this year, and two large dogs, we will be very flexible about where we play, what games we play and for how long we play. We have a very informal go with the flow attitude at Xmas and don’t get uptight about anything!

THE BELTANE CHOICE Book 1 Celtic Fervour Series AFTER WHORL: BRAN REBORN Book 2 Celtic Fervour Series AFTER WHORL: DONNING DOUBLE CLOAKS Book 3 Celtic Fervour Series

Nancy is offering an ecopy of her novel  The Beltane Choice to one winner of this giveaway.

Huge thanks to Nancy for sharing her Christmas with us.

Jaffa and I wish you a very happy Christmas.



  1. Hello Jo. It's lovely appearing on your blog. I wish you, and all of your readers, a very merry Christmas.

    1. It was my pleasure, Nancy. Jaffa and I wish you a very merry Christmas too x


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