Ok, I was up to the present-unwrapping. It was a lovely time, family and presents and excited children. And the day before had been horribly hot (another reason I was so exhausted, especially all that cooking in a boiling kitchen) but Christmas Day was cool and comfortable.
Everybody was contributing to Christmas lunch and of course many needed some access to kitchen facilities to reheat and prepare. I needed about 45 mins, so I was glad when some other people got started early. But as the time scheduled for lunch came and went, one couple was still working away, taking up almost the entire kitchen. They said they were almost done but another half an hour passed before I got access to my oven. The puzzling thing was that they were making a salad! Admittedly they had to poach chicken for it and make a mango sauce in the blender, but still, two and a half hours for a salad? They are most definitely not regular cooks.
So, we were running behind time and I knew I was supposed to get the turkey in the oven straight after lunch, so dinner was going to be late as well. Still, I got a production line of helpers going for my vol-au-vents; cutting out the pastry circles and stirring the mushrooms and grating the cheese while I shredded the chicken that I had cooked the night before. We got everything on the table only an hour late. It was a lovely banquet that everyone had contributed to which made it extra special.
Two years ago we started a tradition of a MasterChef challenge where everyone has to make a dish with a key ingredient. I won the first year (lemon), my brother-in-law last year (raspberries) with probably the best chocolate mousse I've ever had (with raspberries on top, obviously); this year it was mango so we had a couple of mango salads and mango with prawns and a mango pudding but we had plenty of other flavours as well. A couple of us reserved our mango desserts for evening to spread them out a bit. We voted the next day and my brother-in-law won again with the mango pudding, 8 votes out of the 15! Yummy.
I jumped up after dinner and got the huge turkey seasoned and in the oven, then I only had to baste every hour or so for the rest of the afternoon until an hour before dinner when I'd roast the potatoes and prepare some salmon, so I had plenty of time to join in games and fun with everybody. I'd broken through the tiredness barrier caused by three hours sleep and was having a lovely time, even grooving along to music while I basted the turkey. Then as dinnertime approached I asked if anyone else needed kitchen facilities. No. No, because no-one else had anything. One dessert, that was all.
I think a couple of things I had expected at dinnertime went on the table at lunchtime, but also a couple of things that I was expecting did not materialise. People brought lots of snacks and drinks but very little real food.
Out of five main meals (not including breakfasts) for an average of 15 people, I had help with one.
I had a minor panic at this point. There was plenty of meat, with the turkey and salmon plus some cold ham left from lunch, but roast potato was the only vegetable I had planned on doing myself. And with very limited fridge space I hadn't bought anything I didn't think I would need for the holiday period. But I pulled myself together and made the Greek salad I had planned to serve with the Boxing Day BBQ, and found half a bag of frozen peas. It would have to do. Despite the brief panic the dinner all turned out perfectly with a fantastic turkey and gravy if I do say so myself. I think this was the only meal I over-ate at.
Then more games until bed time. I was completely wiped out and staggered off to bed at 10.30 but had to get up an hour later to ask everyone to be quieter. They were playing Pass the Bomb which involves not holding the bomb when it goes off. The bomb was horribly loud, even from in my room with the door closed. But I finally got to sleep when they moved on to another game.
I think I had better make a part 3. Sorry for the thesis-length posts, but I enjoy having all this written down for my own rememberings.