It's nearly here, that joyous, tiring, tension-fraught, hopeful, WONDERFUL time of year . . . CHRISTMAS! Part of the special magic to me, is that most people are celebrating a special holiday within the boundaries of this time frame, so all people can unite in celebration, even if they are celebrating different things.
Here at Sheltie Hollow, preparations are well under way. I have the ice candle made and waiting in the freezer for Solstice night when it will go out in the garden to be lit and shine through the longest darkest night.
With the weather this year, it's a toss up as to whether it will burn out or melt first, but out it will go anyway, to mark the shortest day/longest night of the year. This is the day that Winter officially arrives, and I hope he hears our welcome and wanders our way soon.
In the kitchen, the animals are helping me bake cookies and make the Tourtiere for Christmas Eve, except the one I make is my Irish Grandmother's recipe, more of a meat pastie than a French Canadian Tourtiere. It's all about Tradition.
I really am the world's worst pastry maker, but every year I feel compelled to actually make the pastry, not just open a box. It's about not letting my Grandmother and my Aunt down. So every year I say a little prayer before I begin, asking for their help in this monumentally difficult task. Every year they look down on me and help me get the pastry rolled out and in the pie plate without too much trouble. But this year, I have a feeling they were sitting together on a cloud, sipping angelic Sherry and laughing together, because this time, a series of mini disasters overcame my pastry, culminating in the top layer suddenly going limp in my hands just before it collapsed in a ball on top of the filling! As they say, try, try again, and finally a new circle of pastry landed where it should, smooth and white and ready for the oven. I was left happy, but a nervous wreck.
The animals are a great help with the baking, keeping me company as they sniff the good scents coming from the oven and offering to taste just about everything. But it wouldn't be half as much fun, baking without them there.
So now the cookies casseroles and the tourtiere are in the freezer, the tree is up (miraculously Still up despite a kitten in the house) and the coloured lights shine through the darkness. All that is left is for me to wish all of you a Merry Christmas, a Happy Holiday, and PEACE TO ALL ON EARTH.
Til next time,
Heather Anderson www.heatheranderson-animalart.com