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Delia ad lib: what Christmas means to me

 

Delia and chair ChristmasChristmas and me go back a very long way – 69 years to be precise – and while I can’t really recall the first five or so, I have a vivid fusion of memories spanning the rest of the years, which are very much about what and who I am. An enormous factor in this is obviously my belief and, for me, the whole of Advent – from the first candle on the first Sunday right up to Christmas Day – is always a time of anticipation and excitement.

Alongside that, I was brought up on large family celebrations that centred round two things: good food and hospitality. My mother, and both my grandmothers, were great cooks and there was always a plenteous amount of food prepared over the months leading up to the big day, when family and friends (and sometimes strangers, as there always seemed to be space for last-minute guests who didn’t have families to go to) would gather round for a great feast.

Over the years I’ve tried to keep my links with that tradition, and I suppose my book, Delia Smith’s Christmas, published in 1990, was the culmination of all that. Mind you, after recording a whole series of TV programmes to accompany it, that particular year I couldn’t face doing it myself!

So our entire family decamped to Barbados and spent Christmas horizontal on the beach, watching Father Christmas arrive on a jet-ski and listening to Christmas carols under swaying palm trees, thankful we weren’t in a heaving supermarket trying to find baby sprouts. But lovely as it was, it wasn’t Christmas as we knew it. I still love the romance, the warmth and cosiness of Christmas in the depths of an English winter.


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