So this is Christmas and what have you done?
Some Christmas humour
I wouldn't go as far as stuffing the turkey with Prozac, but Christmas can be a time when emotions run high and instead of peace and goodwill to all, it becomes stress and distress for some.
So here's some funny Christmas stories to lighten the mood.
Christmas in the Australian summer can be a trying time for the appointed family chef, usually Mum.
I remember my friend Inez trying to prepare Christmas Eve dinner when the temperature was in the mid-30s and she was feeling as stuffed as the turkey.
She'd started the potato salad late and it wasn't as cold as it should have been, she was basting the ham, but there was insufficient glaze and she was running late and mother- in- law was about to turn up for dinner.
Of course MIL arrived, not just on time, but half an hour early and who should walk into the kitchen with her, but the cat.
MIL, who hated cats with a vengeance, started a long lecture on how unhygienic it was for animals to be in the kitchen, at which point Inez lost it and told MIL that she had washed the turkey in Dettol and it was therefore clean enough to eat!
Then MIL lost it, burst into angry tears and said she was going home and how dare Inez be so rude and sarcastic.
Peace was somehow restored when granddaughter Celeste persuaded Grandma to stay and watch Carols by Candlelight while Mum finished cooking. She also added that no antiseptic had been involved in the food preparation and that Mum had only been joking.
It was also Celeste who later suggested that they go to a restaurant in future because “Grandma usually behaves better in public.”
Another friend, Kay, always remembers her mum's Christmas pudding which had an unusual flavour one year.
Everyone looked forward to Susie's pudding which she usually prepared weeks before the big day, full of luscious fruit and brandy. So when dinner was over, the family and their guests waited in anticipation.
Susie appeared from the kitchen with the pudding on her special Christmas platter, decorated with holly on the rim. Kay's dad Brian lit a match and ignited the brandy that had been warmed and liberally poured around the pudding and everyone ooohed and ahhed as they helped themselves to a generous spoonful of pud topped by an equally generous dollop of custard.
They told Susie how wonderfully delicious it was, even though, as Uncle Joe said, “It's really yummy, but it does have a rather unusual flavour this time. Did you add an extra ingredient to it, Sue?”
Later that evening, while Kay was helping out with the dishes in the kitchen, Mum confided to her that while she was trying to get the hot pudding out of the steamer next to the sink, she somehow lost her grip and the pudding fell into the sink which was full of dishwashing detergent.
“But only for a minute, before I managed to fish it out with the soup ladle,” she said when Kay collapsed into hysterical laughter.
That explained the “unusual flavour.”
Christmas time always reminds me of my good friend Rachael's experience as a shopping centre manager.
She was in charge of hiring Santa for the usual photos with Santa sessions, when the children also got to talk to him.
Santa was always very popular with the children and he had been a regular fixture at the shopping centre every Christmas for five years.
That hot December afternoon, though, Santa was feeling a bit worse for wear. It was 30 degrees outside and even in the air conditioned centre, he felt sweaty in his bulky suit and his wig and beard were uncomfortably scratchy.
It was his second three-hour session and he was just plain tired.
Still, he put on a smile as the next kid clambered on to his knee.
“And what would you like for Christmas, little boy?” he said.
The inquisitive kid instead pulled at his beard and let it snap back onto his chin and said, “Is that beard real?”
Then he punched Santa's ample tummy and said, “Is that also real?”
Well, Santa had had enough. It really hurt when the elastic from the fake beard snapped his chin and he lost his temper and gave the precocious kid a smack on the leg.
Next thing you know, the kid's dad had jumped onto the stage where Santa sat, snatched the boy, sent him off the stage and then threw an almighty punch at Santa.
Santa punched him back and the two guys kept wrestling on the stage until they rolled off onto the floor. Half the kids were crying in fright and the other half were laughing.
The police were called, the angry father was let off with a warning and Santa literally got the sack!
With one week left before Christmas it was left to poor Rachael to source a new Santa quickly and after much hair-pulling and hand-wringing, she convinced her girlfriend's handsome 28-year-old son to play Santa.
Well, the new hunky Santa was a hit, not only with the children, but especially with the mums, who queued up for hours, just to gaze into his baby-blue eyes and have their photos taken with him.
Rachael promised me that every word of her story was true.
It just shows that a little humour will get you through any situation, at Christmas and at any time of the year.
If you have a humorous Christmas story, why not email it to me at firstname.lastname@example.org?
There is no deadline and the funniest stories will win a prize and be published on the website after Christmas.
What's Christmas without a delicious baked ham? Try this recipe from Australian Pork.
Spiced Coffee, Maple Syrup and Bacon Glazed Ham
1 x 4-5 kg boneless leg ham
500g Australian streaky bacon, rind removed, sliced thinly
¾ cup strong black coffee
½ cup brown sugar
¼ cup red wine vinegar
1 tsp smoked paprika
½ tsp ground coriander seeds
Salt to season
Preheat oven to 160°C.
Carefully remove the skin from the ham, leaving the fat layer in place.
Place the ham on a rack in a baking tray lined with baking paper.
Lay the bacon slices over the ham, overlapping the bacon slightly.
Combine all other ingredients in a saucepan, simmer to reduce by half or until the mixture becomes sticky.
Brush the prepared ham with the coffee glaze and place in preheated oven. Continue to glaze the ham at 10 minute intervals - the surface of the ham should be sticky and caramelised.
Remove from the oven and rest for 10 -15 minutes before carving.
Reflections and plans at Christmas
From taking a non-stop 17-hour flight to running the ultimate marathon for cancer research or just chilling out in the country, Christmas is a time for reflection and sharing your love with your family and friends.
Felix Heng, who lives in Singapore, took a non-stop 17-hour flight to San Francisco to spend Christmas with his partner JP.
1,2874 km or 8,000 miles kept them apart for what seemed an eternity.
“This is the longest time we’ve been apart (nine months), thanks to the pesky virus,” Felix said.
“In spite of two phone calls daily, not being together is tough.
“It gets lonesome when you're not with the one you love.”
They have decided to spend this Christmas day alone, just the two of them, as they've been too long apart to share the holiday with other people.
“We have already shared Thanksgiving with our family and friends, so I don't really feel like entertaining again.
“We're going to splash out and have one of our favourite foods for Christmas dinner – Dungeness crabs, yay!” he said
Happy Christmas feasting!
Also from Singapore, Jong-Ee Kao, my niece and mother of two boys, Shane, 12, and Fynn, 10, loves nothing better than wandering around with them, enjoying nature, when she's not cooking up a storm at home.
“Travelling is not on the charts yet, so we are visiting parks and gardens to fill up the year end before celebrating Christmas.
“The kids love exploring and I love plants! My husband Ming merely trails along,” she laughed.
I was surprised when she said cooking was not on the menu this year.
“We have gotten so used to eating in, due to pandemic restrictions, that I’ve grown a little tired of cooking.
“So I’ve excused myself from cooking this Christmas. Instead we are ordering meals in when friends and family come over.
“More time to chat and less time slaving over the stove,” she laughed.
Good move, I say.
Art director Jef Tan and partner Stef will celebrate Christmas with a difference after their move to regional Victoria recently.
“Christmas for us this year will be different on an epic level,” Jef said.
“For once, there will be no fussing about what to bring or cook at Christmas lunch at Stef’s mum’s nor what to buy as presents.
“We will be celebrating the year’s end at our new 10-acre (4 hectare) property in Northern Victoria with Ethel our cat, only this time it will be champagne and seafood, by ourselves, the mother-and-child pair of kangaroos (if they turn up) and the noisy tribe of cockatoos that circle over (they are barking as I write this!).
Congratulations on the move, Jef and Stef.
My nephew Gower Tan in London says putting things into context can turn gloom-ridden thoughts into more optimistic and positive ones, or at least shift the focus of those thoughts.
He reflected on a year that has been quite eventful, with some incredible highs and lows.
“It was a consequence of circumstances forced upon me and I made several decisions to take time out to do more volunteering, campaigning and fundraising challenges while this pandemic shit-storm is re-writing our history,” Gower said.
“People who know me associate the word 'runner' or 'running' with me. I would hope that additional adjectives might include determined, passionate, inspiring and purpose driven.
“It wouldn’t surprise me if crazy or insane featured as well.”
What is Gower's motivation to run? He does it for cancer research.
Here's his story:
My dad was a lifelong smoker and died aged just 66 from lung cancer. I also started smoking, aged 13 and spent 25 plus years trying to quit.
As I was approaching my 40th birthday, I vowed to quit, get fit again, run the London Marathon and raise money for Cancer Research UK.
Dad had run the very first London Marathon in 1981 and again in 1982. As a young kid I was the sporty one, running races and in every sports team.
Until I became addicted to a product which, when used as intended by the manufacturers, kills one in two long-term users.
I quit smoking, ran the 2010 London Marathon and raised over £2,000 for Cancer Research UK. I’ve been running, campaigning and volunteering ever since, attempting ever more crazy challenges, working with my local MP, meeting Government Ministers and the like to help influence and shape policy and legislation to improve cancer outcomes.
This year I was made redundant due to the pandemic, after an incredible 30-year career in hospitality.
With the incredible support from friends and family, I am humbled to have raised over £10,000 this year towards the life-saving work Cancer Research UK undertake.
I also qualified as a vaccinator, so have also been volunteering to help get people vaccinated. I decided this would be a good use of time to support efforts to get us out of this quagmire.
My goals for 2022 are to find the right (paid!) job and, of course, more running.
I’m signed up for several crazy challenges that will keep pushing me and hopefully inspire people to continue supporting my fundraising .
A friend and fellow ‘Sand Brother’ from our tent in this years Marathon des Sables told me he doesn’t like bucket lists because people never get round to doing them.
He is right and my biggest learning curve from 2021 was to live every day. Stay tuned for my fundraising challenges next year which you can see on my website RunningAllOverCancer.
If you want to read Gower's blog on the Marathon des Sables, check out runningallovercancer.com or gowertan.com
This has been one of the most difficult years for all of us and my family has had its share of challenges.
There were health issues and a traffic accident and plenty of stress and anxiety.
Luckily, it's all behind us now and I wish everyone a joyous and peaceful Christmas and a happy new year.