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.