Thursday, December 09, 2010

Sprout me no sprouts

A report from the BBC earlier this week suggested that the rather chilly weather we’ve been having may lead to a shortage of Brussels sprouts this Christmas.

No real surprise about that, you might think. What is a bit surprising, though, is that the Beeb should have presented this as if it were bad news.

Anything that hastens a sprout on its journey between field and dustbin is a good thing as far as this blogger is concerned.

And cutting out the intermediate stages of boiling them and dishing them up for lunch seems like just the sort of energy-saving measure we should be embracing in these sub-zero days.

Mrs D takes a different view. One of the few things left growing on her allotment after the summer gluts are several sturdy purple sprout plants, which are hanging on to their treasured leafy globules like grim death. So perhaps there will still be the chance for us staunch anti-brassicans to refuse even a “token sprout” with the big bird.

There should be a few parsnips coming home too: another festive vegetable more honoured in the breach than in the observance. What’s so wrong with a handful of frozen peas to go with your turkey and trimmings?

As you may have gathered, Christmas preparations are well under way in the Dixon household, and to keep us on schedule we have all been issued with advent calendars of various designs.

Only one of these has the traditional religious motifs: seraphim and cherubim and kings on camels peering out from behind the windows.

We also have a robustly secular version, with a half-eaten mince pie, an pair of oven gloves and a box of hankies among the treasures behind the cardboard flaps. This acts as a salutary reminder that Christmas isn’t just about the fun things, it’s also about tidying up the mess afterwards.

Guess who got that one?

Then there’s the posh chocolate one, with the numbers printed in pale gold on a multicoloured background, making them even more difficult to find on a freezing December morning than those on the common-or-garden picture-only Advent calendar.

For the younger brethren (or sistren, to be more accurate but less grammatical) we have the gigantic pink Japanese cat calendar complete with even more chocolates in vaguely festive shapes.

And of course we all share that regular Christmas treat: the Advent Candle That Doesn’t Burn Properly.

It has the days of the month printed down the side, and the idea is that you light it in the evening and burn down one number a day.

So chunky is the candle, though, that the burning wick vanishes into the centre, leaving a waxy crust of unburned numbers on the outside.

It offers the perfect excuse for being late with anything from buying presents to writing cards to wrestling with a seven-foot refugee from a Norwegian pine forest: “But it’s only December the fifth – we’ve got tons of time.”

It isn’t, and we haven’t. Best look busy before it’s too late.

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