I don’t know about you but I know Christmas is coming, not by all the decorations in store or the Christmas songs, but by the smell.
For me, it is the smell of Great Nanna Nash’s Christmas plum pudding.
Every October, the annual plum pudding day would come. Mum would pre-soak the mixed dried fruits with rum for a few days before setting aside a day to create the mix and cook it.
It was a ritual of my sisters and I that we would be given four threepence each to drop into the mix; twelve in total to be hidden in the depths of the delicious yumminess that was to come.
It always felt like we were given the most important of Christmas tasks even though we were hardly a part of the process.
I would always marvel at what came next. Nanna Nash’s plum pudding was always calico-wrapped; a time honoured tradition only given to my father who, like a well oiled machine, would rinse and set out the calico on the bench, flour the cloth, and quickly work to gather up the ends and tie the pudding off as tightly as possible when the mix was in place.
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I could never work out how, but he managed to do it in a way that come Christmas Day, the pudding would sit perfectly high and round atop the pudding plate.
I have never once had a Christmas without the pudding; not even when I lived some 16,000km away in Virginia in the United States. That smell as I unpacked the pudding in my chilly university dorm room took me right back home to Wagga for Christmas. This year will be the first year I attempt to make Great Nanna’s plum pudding.
While I am not sure if it will be a success (please let me do it justice), I have realised that it isn’t so much the eating of it that brings me joy.
It is the tradition it has become for my family in bringing us together to create and share a holiday dessert from scratch all those weeks before and wandering past it has it hangs; it’s the excitement of wondering who will be lucky enough to catch a coin in their piece and win themselves a scratchie.
While a pudding, or whatever Christmas goodies you or your family has, might seem like such a small piece of the day, in essence it isn’t.
It’s these little things, that if you took them away wouldn’t feel much like Christmas at all.
Here’s to our Christmas food traditions.