Sunday, December 24, 2006


Taking a leaf out of Elsewhere's book, I have made/written/invented a meme, this time a Yuletide one. Nobody's tagged but I'd love to know if you do this one, so I can see what you said.

(NB: sincere apologies in advance to all for whom this meme has no meaning or relevance, including those of other creeds and those of Scrooge persuasion; I have great respect for your position but can't see the logic in suppressing my own secular pleasure in the Christmas mood and trappings on its account. So if you hate Christmas or are not interested in it, it's a bad idea to read on. Sorry.) I've been thinking about all these questions, as one does, so have put in my own answers.

1) Do you have a tree, and if so what is hanging on it?

Yes, a stylised tree of gold-coloured metal with a star on top and a lot of Leunig-looking curly branches for hanging ornaments on. It has all the ornaments I bought in Melbourne and overseas over the years to renew the stock for the family tree as things gradually got broken and shabby, and that I got back when my mum died; there are also various beautiful ornaments that people have given me.

Critters feature prominently -- there's an Austrian teddy in a hat and wasitcoat [UPDATE: I meant waistcoat, but I think 'wasitcoat' is almost better], a crystal cat, a Scottish rabbit swinging on a Christmas wreath, and a couple of lovely Victorian-style rocking-horses. Lots of musical instruments -- little harps and bells and violins and so on. There are also several angels, two strings of shiny beads, and some gold star tinsel that's been somewhat chewed at the lowest level. (Poppet, I'm looking at you.)

2) What's the most successful bit of Christmas cooking you've done so far?

The herb and garlic vinaigrette with home-grown herbs (parsely, thyme and chives) steeping in it as we speak is pretty impressive.

3) And the least successful?

I piked on real custard for the trifle and used bought instead. It's very nice though.

4) Which bit of your Christmas shopping are you happiest with?

I think my older sister is going to really like The Procrastinator's Planner for 2007.

5) Have you opened any of your presents yet? What was it / were they?

A bottle of Jurlique Rosewater Freshener Spray, a copy of Hotel California: Singer-Songwriters and Cocaine Cowboys in the LA Canyons, 1967-76, a state-of-the-art garlic chopper-upper that is blessedly easy to wash, a copy of Ordinary People's Politics: Australians Talk About Life, Politics and the Future of Their Country, some beautiful little spicy German cookies that are basically a decorated version of Pfeffernüsse, and a compactly-sized portable personal evaporative air cooler.

So far.

6) Do you have any bad Christmas associations that will have to be tackled?

There was a very rough patch twenty years ago in my relationship with my younger sister, whose house we're having lunch at tomorrow -- when we were in our early to-mid thirties we would almost always have some kind of vicious, violent blow-up on Christmas morning over some incredibly trivial matter like how to clean the prawns.

I also feel worse every year about the fact that I'm not in the city at the Central Mission on Christmas morning making gravy and custard for the homeless. Next year I might volunteer to pack hampers or something.

7) What's your favourite carol? Why?

It used to be 'O Holy Night', for the buildup and drama of the music, and I've always had a soft spot for the Australian carol whose name I can't remember that begins 'The north wind is tossing the leaves / The red dust is over the town / The sparrows are under the eaves / And the grass in the paddock is brown', because in Curramulka where I grew up you could see every single one of those things while you were singing about them, just by looking out of the window.

But since I learned Berlioz's 'The Shepherd's Farewell' a few years ago with the choir I used to sing in, I've been very attached to that moment in the middle where there's a completely unexpected modulation out of the minor and into the major key. The harmonies are mind-boggling.

8) Which part of your Christmas plans is most likely to go awry?

I'm getting further and further behind with the List. And I don't think the handpainted silk shirt is going to look as good over the sleeveless top as I would like it to.

9) What's your most favourite thing about Christmas?

The sensory overload. Choirs! Champagne! Mince pies! Candlelight! Red and gold things!

10) What's your least favourite thing about it?

I always put on at least two kilos, which is something I really really seriously cannot afford to do.

11) What Christmassy thing have you seen or heard in the street or on the teeve or in the blogosphere that has
(a) touched your heart

Archie Roach singing 'From Little Things Big Things Grow' on the RocKwiz Christmas Special last night was something I'm very glad I saw.

(b) hit a nerve

Christmas cards in the racks in the shops saying 'Merry Christmas to a Wonderful Mother'. She died in 1999 and I'm still not used to it.

or (c) made you want to barf?

Nothing so far. But give me time.

12) Who do you wish you had contacted to say Happy Christmas but haven't so far?

Lyn, Darcy, Drusilla, Sally and Pete, Phil and Mary, Lucy and Julian, Angela and Grahame in Stirling, Adi and Irene in Klagenfurt, the Sydney Helen, one of the Melbourne Helens, both of the Barbaras, both of the Peters, all of the Christophers, and two old lovers -- you know who you are. Happy Christmas, you-all.

And to the Hivemind; to Cristy and Zoe and Armagnac, who will all have an extra mouth to feed custard into by next Christmas; and to everyone else who so nicely comes to Pav's Cat to read and chat, I hope you all have a peaceful, safe and happy Christmas.


Anonymous said...

Woken up horribly early - so I've had a go.

Have a fab Chrissie.

Melly` said...

Merry Xmas - and wow at that recipe for trifle. I will never feel the same again when I approach dessert for heaps of people.

I will try it.. for a very special occasion.

Mikhela said...

Boxing Day - still in my pyjamas at one pm, recovering - had to have a go at your meme. It really helped!

Mindy said...

Have done your meme at FB too. Looking forward to reading more memes in the next few days.

Genevieve said...

What a splendid meme and atmospheric answers PC - love the 'sensory overload' answer, and I also enjoyed Archie Roach's duet.
If it makes you feel any better, my younger daughter told me this morning that volunteers were being turned down for the equivalent mission in Melbourne as there were too many. Maybe we all need to volunteer at other times of the year - Christmas every day or some such thing. I know I'd be taking down email addresses if I was the volunteer coordinator at Sacred Heart this year.
I've said it already somewhere (Sars?) but I hope you had a lovely day.

Beerli said...

Hallo. I just found your meme and posted my answers. Thanks for that little challenge. All the best!

The Devil Drink said...

Judith Brett's book is supposed to be very good, I've not read it but her one about the Liberals was brilliant.
On Christmas carols, I've a soft spot for Oh Come Oh Come Emmanuel, myself, alongside Son of a Preacherman and Stairway to Heaven.
Singing those at the top of my tone-deaf voice with a captive audience always make a fantastic December holiday for me, though of course it's never complete without watching Bruce Willis shoot stuff in Die Hard... again. Yippee-ki-yay motherfucker.

The Devil Drink said...

And can we have a trifle-report, please, dessert-bloggeur-de-l'annee? The people want to know what happened to the kirsch cherries.

cristy said...

Merry Christmas to you to PC. I hope that you had a good day, despite the mishaps (that you mentioned over at LP).

I decided to take up your meme challenge over at no pod.

TimT said...

Berlioz rocketh muchly! I don't know that piece, though: I will do some research to find it out. I do like many carols, although I don't think some of the modern ones will stand the test of time. 'White Christmas' has a sentimental charm; and for the dazzling power word play alone, 'The First Day of Christmas' is wonderful. Merry Christmas (even if it is a bit late) and happy new year, PC.

TimT said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Zoe said...

Couldnae resist :

Hope your carpet's OK!

James said...

Rerhaps the most sinister of these Christmas Holidays of consuming is the miserable esthetics they bring with them: the pitiful cards, the strings of little colored light bulbs, the little glass bells, the wreaths of mistletoe hanging over doorways, those mentally retarded songs that are Christmas carols translated from English; and so many other glorious stupidities for which it wasn't even worth inventing electricity.

Pavlov's Cat said...

Ah well, number thirteen of anything is always going to be a bit of a worry. Thank you for your helpful, appropriate and uplifting remarks, James, bursting with goodwill as they are. Duly noted.

I'm glad everybody else enjoyed the meme, in the spirit in which it was written. DD, there's a trifle report at Dogpossum's, with links to photos. In my own version, the berry juices created a lovely trickle-down effect to combine with the Kirsch in softening the sponge fingers. The custard kind of melted into everything else once one had actually taken a spoonful. The toasted almonds gave it crunch and a further taste sensation to combine with the Kirsch and cinnamon, and the tartness of the berries and absence of any added sugar made it not too overwhelmingly rich. We ate it with a Spatlese.

There you go, will that do?

James said...

All of this occurring at the same time as the most appalling party of
the year. A hellish night in which children can't sleep with a house
full of drunks that open the wrong door looking for a place to urinate, or chasing after the wife of someone else who perhaps was
lucky enough to have fallen asleep in the living room. It's a lie:
it's not a night of peace and love, but completely the opposite.

It's the only solemn occasion when people don't love each other. The
perfect opportunity to finally take care of those old undesirable
commitments: the invitation to the poor blind person that nobody ever
invites, to cousin Isabel who became a widow 15 years ago, to the
paralytic grandmother whom nobody dares to show. It's happiness by
decree, affection out of pity, the time to give presents because we
receive them, and to cry in public without any explanation. It's
happy hour for the guests to drink everything leftover from last
Christmas: the cream of mint, the chocolate liquor, the banana wine.

It's not strange, as often happens, that a party ends up with shots fired. It's not strange either that the children - seeing so many awful things- end up really believing that baby Jesus wasn't born in Bethlehem, but in the United States.

Pavlov's Cat said...

Yes, well, this is Australia, dude; we do things differently here. Most of the Australians I know had a very happy Christmas, and we are certainly not a nation of crazed gun-toters. If like many of your countrymen you didn't actually realise that there are several other countries in the world apart from the good ole U S of A, then you have learned something new tonight.

And if you really must vent in this lugubrious manner, I suggest you set up your own blog and do it there. This one isn't meant to be a public forum for the doleful.

Perry Middlemiss said...

Only two kilos PC? I think I put on four on Christmas day alone. Felt like it anyway. Didn't drink too much but the food...

Melbourne had its coldest Christmas Day on record: 14.5C. Assuming it was going to be hottish, I arranged to do the turkey and pork on the BBQ outside. Then spent three hours watching the temperature gauge oscillating between 160C and 200C. Had to assume the average temperature was about right! That, and the steam rising from the BBQ hood, after the rain showers passed over, kept me mostly amused.

Turkey a bit dry, pork about right, sparkling shiraz perfect. Thank "the anti-Dawkins" something worked out.

tigtog said...

Finally staying at a hotel in Norway with decent internet access (near the airport we fly out of tomorrow, of course)! Back home in Sydders in a week. It's been a great holiday but so looking forward to the beach.

I like the evocation of Xmas in this meme, Pav.