Christmas on Becca's Books | 'Kate's Christmas' by Kate Winter

~ Kate's Christmas ~

By Kate Winter

Christmas these days looks very different from when I was little. I grew up without any particular traditions, mostly because my family travelled so much. Each year was bound to be different; a Christmas spent in a Greek Villa, with German and Greek and English neighbours and friends dropping by, or the sound of waves crashing in the sunshine on the balcony of our flat in Tangier. A few festive Irish Christmases shared with our friends who lived in a castle, playing hide and seek in the rundown turrets of the abandoned wing... I remember a few particular gifts, and a few regular faces who turned up most years (when we were at home) but there is no sense of repetition in my childhood that creates that sense of 'tradition'.
Instead, my Christmas tradition has developed in more recent years. Ever since I took over, actually. My wonderful mum had been going on for years about how much she craved a silent retreat for Christmas, a day when nobody came anywhere near her. Yes, I know that sounds odd, but she's odd in all the best ways. And secretly, I think she'd just had enough of the enforced rigmarole of Christmas dinner round at her house. So one year, I just said, "I'll do it."
I did do it, and I don't remember that being a particularly special year. I think mum was still very much involved in the cooking and if I remember correctly, the unfamiliarity of my oven and the general hustle and bustle of the day resulted in all but one of the Christmas ducks being burnt to a crisp so that seven of us had a rather meagre dinner that day. Over the years, though, Christmas has become a true joy for me. I now do all the cooking and entertaining and I really, really love it.
To begin with, ever since I've known my best friend, Leonie, we've had the absolute luxury of a double Christmas, because she's German and her family celebrate on Christmas Eve. So off I go, round to their house, where we eat, drink and make merry, swapping gifts and feeling the festive love. And then we get up in the morning, transport ourselves to my house and do it all over again! It's absolutely blissful.
Christmas morning starts with me cracking the champagne, and making mimosa with fresh orange juice. I always start cooking as early as possible, as I've adopted so many strays and waifs to share the day with, there's always a lot of food in order. There's my mum, Leonie and her family (could be three, could be six), any boyfriends who happen to be hanging around at the time, sometimes their families too, and potentially any friend of mine (plus kids) who just wants to take a year off. My most outrageous Christmas dinner endeavour one year was to feed fourteen, in my not-so-large kitchen, with several cultures and dietary requirements present. I managed, and was rewarded by having so many extra fun folks to join in the after dinner games part! At this stage, we're always a little tipsy and I love to bring out the most weird and wonderful games for the whole gang.
I don't have a TV in my house, but at a certain stage of the evening, we might all sit down and watch a classic movie on the laptop (cosy!) before the kids go off to bed and the olds leave for their own homes. Leonie and I, along with any other similarly minded (wine, oh lovely wine) folks sit up and chat. More often than not, there's a knock on my door in the later evening when one or two of my oldest friends will have deserted their own home fires to come catch up by mine. Usually these are people I see very little of throughout the year, so it's always a gorgeous night of enthusiastic chatter. The odd time, it's gone on pretty late... One memorable year, it was 3am and we were having a jolly old sing song when the next door neighbour knocked in to complain about the noise levels. I was rather apologetic, though in fairness, we can't have been that loud, there was a seven year old asleep in the room next to us! My friends thought it funny to sing 'Silent Night' at the tops of their angelic voices while I tried to keep a straight face and assure Cranky Neighbour that we would keep it down from now on...
I'm really looking forward to Christmas this year, as always. What I'm not looking forward to is the long, Irish winter that always follows it. There's not much to look forward to in the New Year on this Atlantic edge of the world. It stays dark for months and months, and it tends to rain incessantly. Without the fairy lights of Christmas to brighten up the atmosphere, the last few months of winter tend to drag. But I tend to get stuck into my writing for real when the weather is like that. Hours in bed with coffee and a hot water bottle and my laptop. And the new book is brewing away in its own little chamber of my brain, so I really can't wait to get stuck into that. It's going to be a cracker, and hopefully you'll find it in your stocking one of these years!
Xxx Kate


(Photo credit to James Connolly)

Kate Winter is a country-living, gig-loving, whiskey-guzzling Irish writer who was lucky enough to grow up with no TV (though she didn’t consider it a lucky break at the time) and lots of books. A journalist, novelist, event blogger and wordy woman, she has a diverse background in spoken word, hospitality, vampire cabaret, event MC-ing, media, PR, storytelling, copywriting and radio, among other interests. Her debut novel 'The Happy Ever Afterlife of Rosie Potter (RIP)' was released in paperback in May 2015 and enjoyed a very sparkly five-star-studded blog tour, along with some rather glowing critical acclaim, too. Recently shortlisted for the Best Romantic Read of 2015 UK Love Stories Award and currently being translated into several different languages, Rosie Potter RIP is a rom-com with a twist.
Kate's favourite bit so far was when The Irish Independent called her "A wolf in sheep's clothing". 

You can find Kate Winter on Twitter | winterwritings.wordpress.com


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