Thanks so much, Anna, for inviting me to post about Christmas.
Every school child knows the Christmas Carol, “The Twelve Days of Christmas.” Ask every parent who has heard it more times than they care to remember. As a kid, I was just as fascinated as the kids are today. Christmas – for twelve days. It boggles the imagination.
Yet, the Christmas season, although technically lasting 40 days and ending at Candlemas, or February 2, really is twelve days. It’s a magical time of the year. Most business will attempt to operate as they normally do, but no matter how they try, it’s a slow time of year.
The week between Christmas Day and New Year’s Day is probably when most festivities take place, but in some countries, the big event of exchanging presents and a full scale celebration may not happen until the end of the 12 days – the Feast of Epiphany on January 6. (Notice how the song starts with one partridge in a pear tree and build up to 12 drummers drumming.)
I never got this hurry up and give-all-the-presents-to-everyone on Christmas Day bit. I like the 12 days of Christmas, and I use them. This is the time to visit family and friends. I don’t think giving or receiving a present after December 25 is late. If I get a Christmas card or newsletter through January, I don’t think it’s late. I actually look forward to the stragglers that come in then because I can enjoy the newsletters instead of quickly skimming through them.
I have had my share of Twelfth Night Parties (which while the end of the Christmas season is the beginning of the Carnival, or Mardi Gras, season) and everyone who attended was happy to do so; the Christmas decorations were still up and all of the mad rush of obligatory holiday parties was over. Now they could simply enjoy themselves and be with friends.
In my Christmas novella, Stirring Wishes, the story doesn’t take place during those 12 days. Instead, it focuses on the magical time in British celebration before Christmas – Stir-up Sunday. Traditionally, Christmas Pudding was made on Stir-up Sunday, the last Sunday before Advent, allowing it time to properly cure before Christmas Day. This year (2012) Stir-up Sunday was on November 25. Each member of the family takes a turn at stirring the pudding, making a secret wish while doing so.
Elise, the heroine in Stirring Wishes (http://amzn.com/B004E3Y1AO), and Harry, her young brother, explain the process:
Harry worries about it, but many people don’t make such a fuss over plum pudding.”
“But it’s really good,” Harry interjected after swallowing the remainder of another piece of bread and cheese.
“But I adore plum pudding,” Richard told him gravely. “I just don’t recall much of the making it.”
“You don’t?” Harry jumped up to stand in front of him. “You mean you never stirred the pudding?”
Elise laid her hand on his shoulder. “Harry, not everyone does.”
“Er… no. I can’t say that I have. Am I missing something?”
“Yes.” Brother and sister said at the same time.
“You add the flour, and eggs, and currants,” Harry listed. He pantomimed adding each ingredient to a bowl. “Then you add the bean, and then you stir. But you have to stir in the right direction.”
“I see.” In spite of not wanting to be amused, Richard was. The imp was adorable as he showed him how to stir. “What happens if it’s in the wrong direction?”
Harry’s mouth opened and closed in disbelief. The two adults did their best to hide their grins.
“No one stirs the wrong way, do they Elise?”
“Oh, no. They wouldn’t dare,” she assured him.
“If you don’t stir from east to west, then the wise men won’t come.”
“A grave problem indeed. But why must you do it tomorrow. Can’t it wait another day?” He was willing to humor the child, but found he truly wanted their company. Maybe he really shouldn’t have sent Michael away.
“It’s Stir Up Sunday, my lord. Everyone knows that.”
“Oh, indeed.” He shot a look to Elise, hoping that Harry wouldn’t quiz him any further. He should have realized she would have smoothly filled the breech.
“It’s good to have the pudding age. Besides, it fits so well with the prayers for Advent. "Stir up we beseech Thee O Lord..."
Richard gave a slight cough. “Of course, I can see how that would work.”
1 prepared (9-inch x 13-inch pan size) pan of brownies2 cups milk
1 package (3.4 ounce) instant chocolate pudding mix*
8 oz. (2 cups) frozen whipped topping thawed
3 Heath candy bars (1.4 oz. each), chopped
· Divide brownies into thirds. Cut each third into 1-inch cubes
· In a large bowl, beat milk and pudding mixes on low speed for 2 minutes. Let stand for 2 minutes or until soft-set.
· Layer the brownie pieces, chocolate pudding, whipped topping and Heath Bar pieces. End the layers with whipped topping. Sprinkle with Heath Bar pieces.
*To make this even easier, used canned chocolate pudding. If you can’t find the can, 3 or 4 packages of the 4-pack snack size work well. I like more pudding so I use 5 of the little cups per layer.
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