Christmas came early to the Normal/Fixit axis, when we started collecting jolly scraps of paper from old copies of ‘Recycling Weekly’ to make into origami wreaths and tree decorations, and unravelling unwanted jumpers (of which we seem to have a mysteriously large supply) to re-knit into apple cosies and tiny socks to keep the cat’s feet warm on our unheated floors.
We had already been saving all our old crusts, stale biscuits and unsuccessful experiments with spelt, to jazz up with home-grown carob and dried gooseberries from the allotment into delicious truffles for all our family and friends. Then it was time to dig the faithful old tree out of its home by the straw bale toilet, with Magnus and Dolly on earthworm watch the while to make sure we didn’t alarm its wriggly companions, and upset the fragile balance Gaia so carefully maintains for all of us.
On Christmas morning we were up early, foraging for left-over scraps of paper in the neighbours’ recycling bins, to wrap the little gifts that mean so much more for being home-made (as I always tell the children). This year, sadly, I had to remind Magnus a little more forcefully than usual, as he had got it into his silly head that earmuffs crocheted with pictures of basketball players were somehow not the same as NBA2010 on a PS3, (whatever that is).
Still, he’s only young. I remember well at his age, longing for a Latin dictionary, and getting only yet another pair of my mother’s cast-off tights with the holes cleverly darned into mathematical equations. In time, I came to understand and appreciate her, as I’m sure Magnus will me.
Dolly was much easier to satisfy, as she had decided – quite spontaneously, I promise you – to donate her hair, of which she has far too much, to a very worthwhile charity for alopecia victims. So she was thrilled with her comfy hat, which really doesn’t look like a tea cosy at all, now I’ve sewn up the spout hole.
So the morning passed in a flash, and once we’d carefully re-folded the wrapping paper for next year, it was time to think about Christmas dinner. Luckily we live very near to a Waitrose, and though of course I’d never take the children anywhere near the front door, they’re quite familiar with the bins at the back, to the extent that I let them go on their own to forage whatever we need.
They’ve developed a clever system whereby Magnus holds onto Dolly’s ankles while she digs about inside. There are always plenty of plastic bags blowing around on their route, which she uses to protect her clothes from that one coleslaw mini-pot that’s always lurking where you don’t expect it!
As it was Christmas, and they had been (on the whole) very good, I let them choose pretty much whatever they liked, as long as it was local, seasonal, vegan, unpackaged and free from hydrogenated fats and palm oil. What a feast we had on their return! As a self-confessed leftovers phobe, I’ve become quite clever at thinking of unusual combinations of food – it’s a little game I play, really – and we all loved the wilted lettuce, oat milk and cooking apple soup, followed by marzipan and mangel-wurzel cakes with a spicy green tea glaze. (Strictly speaking, the green tea wasn’t local, but it certainly helped the rest down.)
After that, nobody had room for my quinoa and dried elderberry eggless soufflee, but, as a mother, I knew that by supper time they’d be hungry enough to eat it.
All this time Mr Fixit, who loves nothing more than wholesome exercise for the benefit of others, had been spinning on the bike he’s cleverly rigged up to heat our water, humming seasonal tunes in his melodious baritone. By mid-afternoon he’d worked so hard that we all got a Christmas bath, one by one just like in the olden days, and it was still warm enough for the dirty dishes afterwards.
As we tumbled happily into the cosy family-size patchwork sleeping bag beside the dying fire, we looked around our cosy house, lit by candles home-made from the tallow we clean off the fleeces at spinning-time, and thought how lucky we are to be happy with so little, in a world where everybody else somehow gets it so wrong, all the time.
And speaking of people getting it wrong, as I drifted happily off to sleep, I had a sudden flash of brilliance, which I have to confess may possibly have been catalysed by the fermented gherkin-juice with Mr Fixit and I had toasted another loving, united year.
I have the answer to the problem of Copenhagen! It’s so simple, I’m amazed nobody cleverer than I (I’m sure there are such people, they just don’t live in Camden) has thought of it before.
All we have to do is stop buying things from China! Then their economy will stop growing, they won’t need all that nasty coal, and they won’t be able to hold the rest of the world to ransom!
I can’t wait to write to Ed Milliband about it. (Without boasting, he’s become a bit of a pen-pal of mine) How pleased he’ll be to have something practical, positive and achievable to take to the table in January.