Sunday, December 27, 2020

A Pandemic Christmas

 Given the relaxed nature of this year's celebrations, this is the first year in recent memory that I'm heading into New Year's without being completely exhausted. I could have done without the pandemic, but I could get used to scaled-back holidays. 

The boys requested a "real" Christmas pudding this year (meaning made with suet) so I obliged. They enjoyed it, which is good because there's quite a bit of it for them to get through (and a small one in the fridge that needs another steaming to serve on St. Patrick's). Observationally, it is darker than puddings made with butter or vegetarian suet, but otherwise looks more or less the same. They couldn't tell anything different in the taste. If you're wondering why there's a hole in the centre, it is because my pudding basin has a centre shaft. It might look less traditional, but it ensures my puddings are cooked through to the middle. Of course for something like a steak and ale pudding I need to use my old, traditional basin. I dare say, this turned out perfectly. 

I've had suet puddings before, the last time memorably after I had been vegetarian for several years. Growing up with a parent suffering from issues around food (I won't go as far as calling it an eating disorder as I'm not in the habit of armchair diagnosis) meant that she almost never ate anything she actually wanted, and certainly not in a quantity to be satisfying. Until she did, and then it was always a source of guilt, anger, and whatever overreaction she had at hand to cope with demolishing a bag of Doritos. So there was that cycle, over and over and over until she was dead at 56 having never had a meal she actually let herself enjoy. 

The Christmas before she died, we went shopping at Marshall Field's. We'd do that often enough that it wasn't anything terribly out of the ordinary, but that year she wanted to stop in at the restaurant for a cup of tea. She'd mentioned that they had individual Christmas puddings on the afternoon menu, and she'd get one but it would be, "Too much for her." Knowing she'd never get one unless I agreed to split it with her, I came up with  some sort of excuse that it probably wasn't real suet and what I didn't know wouldn't kill me. Friends, it was absolutely real suet. I'd been a vegetarian nearly 10 years at that point and knew the minute it hit my tongue that it was real suet. Know what I did? I ate the pudding, and I'm glad I did. There wasn't much I could do to make such a miserably unhappy woman's life any less awful, but I could eat half of a mini Christmas pudding. It didn't make me sick, it wasn't disgusting, and I went back to my vegetarian diet with no harm done. She was dead by May. I've never regretted eating that pudding. 

I kept my outfit casual and comfortable for Christmas day. I didn't cook on Christmas day because we had leftover seafood paella from the night before. I *thought* I had over-bought fish and that we'd be stuck with leftovers all week. Nah-they demolished it in two sittings. Anyway, I was able to catch a break from cooking on Christmas day. 
Still digging deep in my vintage wardrobe and was delighted to come across this 70s wool skirt I'd forgotten about. I'm wearing it with a vintage sweater from the Aman a Woolen Mills, in Iowa. These days, they don't make clothes-just stadium blankets, but at one time they produced gorgeous pieces like this. I have a tweed suit and another sweater from Amana, and am always keeping my eye out for pieces. As they're sort of local, the stuff does turn up in thrift stores. Not that I've been in a thrift shop since last February! They're open, but I'm not keen. 
I continue to age at an alarming rate. I don't care. Late December is a dangerous time for self-esteem as we're bombarded with New Year's ads for diets, gyms, and plastic surgery. You do what's best for you. I'm continuing my slide into decrepitude gleefully. Expect to see more photographs of my jowls as I keep it real here in 2021. I can shake them and make horse noises which is a rather impressive skill-perhaps I'll treat you to a video in the new year. 
I wore the vintage Woolrich sweater (gift in the 80s) but only for a few minutes because it is much to warm to wear inside. 
But it is a beautifully made piece of knitting and embroidery.
And the embroidered acorns on the hem are cute beyond words.
Knowing I wouldn't last long in it, I had a more practical poloneck beneath it. Still, most years I don't even unpack it, so it was nice to get photos anyway. 

Speaking of 80s sweaters, what do you think of this Bonnie Boerer monstrosity? I bought it new. No, I don't know what I was thinking either.
The tag says 1987, and that seems right. 

As promised/threatened, here are the red velvet flares.

That was a good outfit-I'm pleased with how it came together this year. The velvet blazer is too large, but the giant belt does a good job of disguising it. 

I'll leave you with what I wore today-a velvet caftan with a velvet dress unbuttoned over. 

Tomorrow's a big day for Dan as we're going to take the test for his driver's permit. Then, he'll be able to practise driving. I hope we won't be at the DMV all day (because ya know, we're still in a pandemic and masks aren't required in state office buildings because our governor is a complete piece of shit.) Well, he IS! Anyway, most people are wearing masks anyway, but the idea that it somehow has to be a political statement is just...well, you know. I hope it will be quick. 

Take care and if I don't make it back before Friday, have a very happy New Year. 



Alli Duncan said...

Wishing you a much much better year ahead. I hope Danny passes his test and it was quick. I have loved all your beautiful outfits (especially the amazing red velvet flares and tapestry boots). Love Alli, Canberra (Australia)

bahnwärterin said...

fingers crossed for dan´s test!!

beautiful ensembles! the white emproidered sweater is lovely, the belt on red velvet a total stunner! i actually like the bonnie boerer sweater - would wear it tucked in with a folky dirndl skirt and rustic boots and the hair braided..... and some sheepskin.
your pudding looks impressive!
and the story about your mum is very touching - you are such a wonderful person.

glad you are not exhausted this year - try to make this a new tradition!!

Vronni's Style Meanderings said...

Good luck, Danny! Who's teaching him to drive - you or Mr.ETB? I bet he's a natural driver...

The Christmas pudding looked amazing; I have a Fortnum and Mason one to eat still; you know! I do like a Christmas pud and usually pick up some short dated ones from the food bank in the New Year, so we eat it all year round. It makes a good 'oh what can we have for dessert with Sunday dinner' when I've forgotten to buy/make anything!

The outfits were marvellous. I loved the white sweater with the amazing silver embroidery, the velvet kaftan, the red trousers and that gold top and trousers. And the accessories were fabulous as always. You'll miss your Christmas backdrop for your outfit photos...

Happy New Year to you and yours,

Beth Waltz said...

A driver's permit is a major milestone in my part of the planet, especially when there's winter driving techniques to be mastered. Let's hope all goes smoothly/quickly at the DMV!
The vintage Woolrich sweater is exquisite, Goody. I can envision your wearing it fireside at a posh ski lodge with woolen slacks and sleek boots (where are you finding all these elegant boots?!). However, my eyes are gleaming green at the belt with the leaf buckle. What a subtle bit of wearable art it is!
Some foods do indeed evoke memories. For you, it's real suet in a pudding, for me it's caviar on cream cheese on a Ritz cracker. Has to be a Ritz cracker! During WWII my very plain vanilla Midwestern mama landed in an apartment over a Bulgarian bakery on Brighton Beach. This was the bakers' snack, with a "nice glass tea." Mum indulged in this exotic-to-Indianapolis treat every winter -- and so do I, on her birthday in January.

Bibi Maizoon said...

I have never eaten Christmas pudding but yours looks gorgeous !
Moms of a certain era and their food phobias, sigh.
Don’t see you ageing and your hair looks glorious!
I am wondering why only my face is getting gaunt while the rest of me stays fat???
The Woolrich sweater, velvet kaftan and red velvet flares are fabulous! That belt you have cinched in the too large blazer is amazing too.
I am certain Danny did well on his test ;)
Speaking of government POS, the PM of Nepal decided to dismiss the entire parliament (because they didn’t agree with him) and hold new elections in the middle of a pandemic!
A very happy new year’s to you and your family too!

Vix said...

Good luck to Danny!
I never had the brains to pass a driving test and am in awe of anyone who can drive.
I agree with Beate, a very moving story about your mum. My brother makes a mean vegan Xmas pudding - not sure where he got his enthusiasm for cooking from, it must have by-passed me and my mum!
Love the kaftan on you and the bird jumper has a touch of the Versaces about it worn with your inherent sense of style. xxx

Polyester Princess said...

Scaled back holidays are the best, I've been enjoying them for years.
Your Christmas pudding looks great, but funny that the boys couldn't taste the difference!
As always, it has been a joy to see your outfits, including the red velvet flares. My favourites must be the Bonnie Boerer sweater and that stunning velvet kaftan! Totally in love with the floral boots!
Finger's crossed for Danny's driving test! xxx

Emily said...

Good luck to Dan on his driving test!

I love that purple caftan and the long jacket you wore it with. And the big gold earrings? A perfect match!

If you're aging, I'm not seeing it at all. You look the same, year after year after year.

That was a great story about the Christmas pudding. Food is one of life's pleasures, and it was nice of you to ease your mom into a few bites of something she would have otherwise denied herself of.

Wishing you guys a very happy New Year!!!

Mim said...

Aaah I love that caftan! It is made of WIN.

Honestly, I love seeing my friends of all ages online. On Instagram, I see people my age or even a bit younger never putting up a photo without a face-smoothing filter on, and it makes me sad that they feel they have to cover themselves up. Ageing's not the problem, it's society's attitude towards it, particularly in women. I'm going to keep being myself, and I adore seeing you being your fabulous self too.

It sounds like you had a super Christmas, nice and relaxing.

Goody said...

He passed! Thank you for the well wishes. I hope you have a great New Year!

It was only the written part of the exam-he will still need to pass a driving test in a few months, but he passed-with one question to spare. I took him out for a first drive in empty lot next door to us. I was nervous, but he said I didn't even scream at him to hit the brake.

Unfortunately, I am teaching Dan to drive because my husband isn't a very good driver. To be fair, he learned late in life and just doesn't have the experience I do (I've been driving since I was 16). Dan is scared, but I'd rather he be nervous than over-confident. People around here tend to drive like they believe they're immortals.
Happy New Year to you and your family.

It snowed about 9 inches yesterday and I was tempted to take him out in it just so he could learn what to do once you're stuck in the snow (the old, kitty litter bag in the trunk for winter traction never fails). Instead, I let him sleep in and by the time he got up around 3 PM I had the car all dug out and ready for his next lesson. I'm not looking forward to rural roads at night (dark, deer, etc.) but we live in Nebraska, and he needs to know how to drive on gravel without slipping around.
Your ritz and caviar tribute sounds lovely. When they were first married my dad asked mum for a glass of tea-she was not impressed and told him in HER house they use mugs! She was such a snob. Have a happy new year!

That's sort of impressive that parliament can just be dissolved so easily. Steamed puddings aren't practical anywhere that electricity is expensive as it takes six hours of initial steam and then another two hours on the day. At least, I wouldn't want to try it in a humid environment. Have a happy new year!

Don't be so hard on yourself-driving has nothing to do with intelligence, just coordination. I can think of many people who really shouldn't be behind a wheel but do it anyway. I never wanted to drive, and had I lived somewhere with good public transportation, probably never would have learned. Have a happy New Year!

I guess with all that mixed spice and booze it would be hard to discern what fat was being used. I'm glad they enjoyed it though-it was a lot of work to make.
Have a happy New Year!

Oh, I'm getting old-trust me!
Dan passed his test and is on his way to independence. Or being my errand boy ;)
Have a very happy new year!

The camera naturally does blur a bit but some of those filters are so disturbing looking. I'm rather pleased to still be here because really, I shouldn't be, so age isn't something I'm going to try and hide. I'm glad you're YOU!
Have a very happy new year!

Señora Allnut said...

Your story about your mom and the pudding you had to share has resonated on me, as my mom has been in a diet since I was a child, losing and gaining weight, obsessed with being thin and tanned, and also obsessed with having a daughter totally like her. Which I am not. She can't give herself permission to enjoy life nor food, which is sad!
But let's talk about clothes! (no more psychoanalysis!). Love your embroidered pullover, love your velvet flares and those brocade boots, and Love your velvet kaftan particularly (because purple velvet is fabulousness! and you have even velvety boots!)

Hope Danny can become a good driver soon!. Glad that you're giving him some good lessons based on experience and practical skills. Great job!. I had my license when I was 38 and still can't understand why they let me drive. I've never done, as I'm a responsible person.

Annie said...

Love that velvet caftan. I love all velvet, though I am currently without anything really wearable.

What a kindness to share that pudding. Your mom sounds like she had all kinds of demons. So sad for you both but you seem to have done better.

Thank you for sharing your wrinkles and jowls. I look much older than my 61 years, which makes me crazy, but it helps to see that other women are older and still beautiful. Ageism is definitely a problem in American culture. Ashton Applewhite has some good posts and articles about it.

Rock on.