Christmas 2012: sober

I do live in hope that one day Christmas will actually mean something more to me than just a frantic effort to stay sane. Considering that this Christmas was my first one sober, it was actually ok! It was just my boyfriend, my cat and me. And food. 

Once again, food is what saved me. Not over-eating or anything, but cooking. I kept myself so ridiculously busy I didn't have a spare thought in my brain for anything bad, then when I did sit down to rest, exhaustion took over. Of course, this was a really stupid idea because I will now spend weeks suffering for my efforts, but in a way I think it was worth it. 

Here's what went down:

Christmas Eve

My sleep has been taking a turn towards insomnia again lately, so I was awake quite early on Christmas Eve and had about 4 hours to kill before Abel and Cole would arrive; for some reason I decided to start cleaning and ended up FINALLY doing the oven. This is something I've been putting of for months. It is the worst household chore there is. My thinking was that it was going to take a real kicking over the next 48 hours so I'd rather clean it now than try to remove a lot more baked on crap after Christmas. Of course, this was after I watched The Nightmare Before Christmas and some of Who Framed Roger Rabbit!!

If I ever have kids, we're doing Christmas Tim Burton style.

How awesome are these super-strength cleaners?! Oh god I just love them. My baking racks went into a big plastic bag with some fluid and were left to do their thing for a few hours, and the oven just needed a quick spray and no more than 30 minutes! Getting the bloody cleaner off the oven was painful, but I think to anyone else this wouldn't have been anywhere near as bad. 

There is no greater satisfaction than looking at a virtually pristine oven. Totally worth my arms and back being in spasm. I think I had sat down for maybe 5 minutes when Abel and Cole turned up. I'm not going to lie, I was very excited about this delivery. They did not disappoint!!! 

I must stress this wasn't all for Christmas Eve-Day!!
They really make us feel special! :)
The only downer was that I had a spider hijack it's way into my kitchen in one of my boxes. He tried to make his escape when I lifted up my bananas, but my reactions are lightening fast and he was promptly flattened. Thank god it was just one of those spindly ones. I still gagged and was shaking like mad though!! Aren't phobias fun.... 

Weird side note: I had a dream about two days before that in my delivery a giant black spider was hiding in my sealed lettuce pack!! It's not been opened yet..... Haha. 

After that was all dealt with and my fridge had been stocked to the point of bursting, I needed a lay down!!!

My baking tasks were to make some Christmas-type fairy cakes, and some sausage rolls. I also had to prepare my duck for the next day. I tell you what, making cakes without a mixer is HARD WORK. I have a horrible raw blister on my right thumb from mixing so vigorously!!! To make the cakes and sausage rolls, from start to finish, took about 3 hours...

Vanilla fairy cakes and Chorizo style sausage rolls
They're red and green... Honest!
I used Jamie Olivers' recipes for all of my cooking efforts!! The sausage rolls are in his 30 Minute Meals book. 

I crashed after these were done!! My boyfriend had arrived during the time I was cooking the batches of cakes so I needed to curl up on the sofa with him and just relax for a while! It would have been so perfect to just have an ice cold JD and diet coke to sip, but that just wasn't an option. If I was alone things may have been different. I think I started preparing my duck at around 9pm - forgot to photograph it! I used this method: Jamie Oliver's easy roast duck and the principle of 20 minutes cooking time per 500g.

My boyfriend and I met 13 years ago... on Christmas Eve... aww. 

Christmas Day

I also got about 20 candles and some rubber ducks!
The day started out with a lay in, then tea and presents! I got ridonkulously spoilt, and actually felt terribly guilty and close to tears. It confuses the crap out of me that people think I'm worth spending/wasting their money on. I just..... don't get it. But anyway. I failed to take pictures of what I got the boyfriend, and the mess that my living room became but this is what I got:

So yes. I felt overwhelmed. My mum bought the boyfriend and I a night away in a lovely spa hotel, with a 3 course dinner, breakfast and a treatment each! I also got a voucher for health and beauty treatments from my boyfriends mum. She's also responsible for that giant slab of chocolate!

I left Lily and him to play in the mounds of paper while I made breakfast for him and some more savoury snacks. My Christmas day breakfast this year was french toast with bacon and mushrooms. I was absolutely desperate for a drink but just held on to the hope that keeping busy would see me through, so I made a start on my next snack: sausage meat roulades. I got the idea from a pre-made version by Abel and Cole and figured I could make more for less cost! I was right. 

Preheat oven to 200. Get your sausages, I used pork and apple, and take them out of their cases. Cut each sausage into 4 chunks. Wrap each piece in half a strip of smoked streaky bacon and jab with a cocktail stick to hold them together. Lay them out on a baking tray, sausage side down - able to contain fat that cooks out, there was a bit! - and sprinkle with dried mixed herbs and black pepper. Cook for about 15 minutes. Ta da.

Mum came to visit at about 2.30pm but she didn't stay long. Lily was exhausted and curled up on the sofa once she was done investigating her toy - a bag that's lined with a crinkly sounding foil. Exhaustion was coming on hard and fast for me too now so I dosed for a couple of hours before I started dinner. I must stress that I purposely didn't make an elaborate effort like everyone else probably did, but I did want to do something different and make new memories. I have faith in Jamie Oliver and that when he calls a recipe easy, it's pretty idiot proof!! 

I was also very conscious of the fact that my boyfriend is used to a 'family' Christmas, and this is the first time he's been stuck with me all day. I just wanted to make it ok. He was kind enough to help me lift the duck in and out of the oven and drain the fat away for me - it was too heavy for my failing muscles by now. I was also starting to get confused and clumsy. Thank god the worst that happened was dropping the roll of tin foil and seeing it unwrap across the kitchen floor! I had prepared for the confusion by making a running order and ticking things off as I went. That helped loads.

It took just over 2 hours!

The worst part of the whole thing was dealing with the giblets. My duck came with the organs in a plastic bag (thank god) but I had to fish the neck out myself. I did worry if he'd come complete with head but I think only chefs get that pleasure... Don't get me wrong, I'm not a squeamish person, but I've not had to deal with organs for a long time! The neck went into the gravy - chopping it up made me feel a bit bad but that's only because I think he's up in ducky heaven knowing I'm butchering his poor little neck and it hurts him. Yes, I know this isn't exactly logical. Lily will get the organ meat once I figure out if everything is ok for her to have. She had some cooked duck with us, of course!

What is it about cooking and drinking at the same time that just clicks so well? I missed it so much and the whole situation felt so alien, but I was utterly spent by now and barely had the energy or desire to eat! The boyfriend seemed very happy with what I managed to produce throughout the past 2 days, so I considered this a success. Bless his heart, he even dealt with the dishes for me!!! 

After dinner, we watched Ted and went to bed. Rock and roll!! 

So there we are. That's how I remained sober for the first time in a lonnnnnng time at Christmas. I didn't over eat because I felt perpetually sick and swallowing was a bit tricky at times. I didn't purge. I didn't self-harm. I just cooked, and spent time with the my little family. If this is what Christmas is going to be, then I'm ok with it. I've been on my own for about 24 hours now and I am feeling quite emotional and some flashbacks are coming but it's nothing I can't handle at this point in time. I can't tell you how sore my entire body is right now.

Hopefully by next Christmas the attachment and security that Jack Daniels brings will be almost gone and it won't even cross my mind... Hopefully.

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