My Greek Christmas. Part III: "Deck The Halls"

Oh Christmas tree
Oh Christmas tree

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas, oh yes it is!

The past couple of mornings, on surveying the world from my window, I had my suspicions about the silvery white stuff that had appeared over night, could it be frost?

Or was it only dew?

Having a hectic time ahead, today I arose with the lark, and on drawing back the curtains my suspicions were confirmed:

Yes, we have frost!

Frosty Morning
Frosty Morning
The roof of the shed is Green, by the way, in case you were wondering where the frost is!

"In the depth of winter
 I finally learned that there was in me an invincible summer."
Albert Camus

It would be rather fanciful of me to expect a white Christmas on the coast of Southern Greece, so I’ll settle for frost, a Christmassy start for my seasonal shenanigans.

If you have been following my Big Fat Greek Christmas goings on, you will know I am attempting a Christmas cake this year, which I shall probably still be eating until Easter, as my family don’t partake of this particular bit of Christmas spirit.

All is looking good so far and we have reached the marzipan stage.

Before starting on this though, as it is also;

 “Tree trimming day”

 and, since the birth of my granddaughter Melina, three and a half years ago, now a traditional  family day, I’ll make my  scrumptious lemon drizzle cake.

Lemon Drizzle Cake
Lemon Drizzle Cake

A firm family favourite, always a winner

If I time things right, while the cake is in the oven, I’ll prepare a meat loaf for lunch, and then proceed with the marzipan, while MGG (My Greek God) erects the tree, one of those dratted things that have to be put together, branch by branch, takes an age, and by the time you have arrived at the bottom branches, you’re wishing you’d never heard of Christmas.

Nothing ever goes to plan though does it?

My program didn’t take in the help of a three year old, that adds double time to everything, or my son’s new family member, Loco, a three month old Jack Russell dog, who certainly  lives up to his name!

Loco the Jack Russell
Loco the Jack Russell

A suitable name!

Melina, now fed up with the meat loaf preparations, is eager to start on the tree, MGG has not finished with his task though, I can hear him swearing and cursing in the sitting room, apparently I had not packed the branches of the tree away, last year, in the right order.

I bribe Mel with the marzipan, we’ll make it together, we did, and she got in a mess, as I knew she would, as did the kitchen floor, marzipan underfoot is not good.

Marzipan ingredients.
Marzipan ingredients.

I now have eight egg whites,
hmm, maybe meringues are in  order next week!

At last, MGG has worked miracles and calls Mel to get on with the main job of the day, the whole point of the day, the moment Mel has been waiting for, to trim the tree!

Peace in the kitchen, but not in the sitting room, Loco has sniffed out the tree decorations, all hell is let loose; bring out the Christmas cheer, glug, glug!

"Hey!Santa! Pass us  that bottle, will you?"
"Hey, Santa! Pass us that bottle, will you!"

Lyrics from Jethro Tull's "Christmas Song"

I finish the marzipan, and lo and behold, manage to transfer it to the cake (Of which I have cut off the burnt bits!) in one piece, and very pleased I am with the results.

Succeeded in transferring bit from here to there in one piece!
Succeeded in transferring this, from here to there, in one piece!

Marzipan on the cake
Marzipan on the cake

So far, so good!

Here, I have a little chuckle to myself, remembering the first Christmas cake I ever made, helped by my good friend Alison, this was way back in 1980, or there about.

“The year of the catastrophic Christmas cake”

We couldn’t track down fresh white almonds, for the marzipan, but, never mind, we’ll just blanche the roasted, salted type, “It’ll be right”, as we say in Yorkshire.

Well it wasn’t “right”, we had to discard that bit, (The best), before we could eat the cake.

Today, it might have been “right”, the mode seems to be for “Sweet and salty”!

The salty flavour was not the only problem; remember when silver balls were all the rage for decorating Christmas cakes?

Silver balls were easy to come across in Greece, strange, because I had never seen them on a Greek cake, then again, at this point; I had never been to a Greek memorial service for the dead!


Greek memorial cake

When Alison and I proudly presented our efforts to MGG and Aris (Now Alison’s husband of many happy years) they just about rolled on the floor with laughter.

What had we done?

We had embellished our Christmas cake, with a myriad of silver balls, as is the traditional way that Greeks decorate memorial cakes (Koliva), presented in the church, forty days after the death of a loved one.

What can I say? We were young, we were new to Greece, and you live and learn!

The Way We Were
The Way We Were

Left to right, Aris & Alison, Ali & I, MGG

Back to Christmas present, eventually everything came together, the marzipan was on the cake, the tree was trimmed, I will move some the decorations to the top half of the tree later, right now, everything is at “Melina height”.

Let me tell you, decorating a Christmas tree with a three year old, is no job for a control freak!

Christmas Tree
Christmas Tree

All done and dusted

Christmas details
Christmas details

My Mother-in-law gave us this cross, for our Christmas tree, on my son John's
first Christmas, thirty two years ago.
We sat down to lunch, albeit an hour late, but happy, Loco, the mad Jack Russell biting my toes under the table.

Later that evening, when they had all left, while tidying up, I found that Loca had left me my first surprise Christmas gift, a little puddle, just in front of the dinning room door, Loco; presents are meant to go under the tree.

Happy first Christmas Loco.  Grrrrrr!

After some more Christmas cheer, alone, a very crucial fact!, I added a few more Christmas accents.

Still life
Still life

Old And New
Old And New

This fabulous tea caddy belonged to my great grandmother, yes; they locked away their tea in the good old days, when maids had a tendency to help themselves to it!

The cute candlestick depicts Eros, the sweet little Christmas tree candles, in silver bases, are a gift from my sister-in-law.

Desk top
Desk top

Not a computer in sight!

"We'll always have Paris"  From the film "Casablanca" 1942
"We'll always have Paris"

From the film "Casablanca" 1942

This wonderful bottle, in the form of The Eiffel Tower, once held  cognac, or liqueur, something like that anyway.

It now holds "sea glass" collected from the beach at Loutraki.

Under the stairs
Under the stairs

Wreath with an unexpected guest, Pinocchio.
Wreath with an unexpected guest, Pinocchio.
My daughter bought this little chappy  (Pinocchio)  for Melina, who seemed rather wary of him,

and declined to take him home with her, the reason; he has black eyes!

Now he's swinging on our wreath.

Sculptures by Humberto Bust. , "Man Walking" and "Man Praying"
Sculpures by amazing artist, Humberto Busto.

"Man Walking" and "Man Praying"

Tune in, next week, for the fourth, and I hope the last, of the Christmas cake saga.

This will be the moment of truth, the icing on the cake, will the image in my head, bear any resemblance to the final result?

To get you in the mood for Christmas, listen to a bit of Christmas spirit.

'A Christmas Song'
Jethro Tull

Happy Christmas, until next time!

My Big Fat Greek Christmas Part I

My Big Fat Greek Christmas Part II

See the finale, the finished cake, Christmas Part IV HERE

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