Brian Monteith: Grate expectations for a Boxing Day minestrone

I am going to continue my current penchant for surprising readers. Last week it was by praising the SNP government '“ for establishing the Scottish Fiscal Commission. This week I am going a step further and abandoning the idea of writing about politics at all.

Wednesday, 27th December 2017, 6:00 am
Christmas Day was spent cooking for Scotland in the Monteith household
Christmas Day was spent cooking for Scotland in the Monteith household

What the Heck! It’s Boxing Day as I sit down to type away, possibly the one day I really do take a rest. Christmas Day certainly isn’t restful, as I rarely get to bed before 2am and this year was no different (I’m a male so that means last-minute wrapping of presents even if some were bought months ago). Then I’m invariably up at the back of seven – and, before I know it, it’s eight in the evening and I’m only just sitting back in the sofa, having been chained to the stove wearing my latest pinnie.

(I seem to be gifted lots of pinnies at Christmas time: there’s one of a very fat operatic Brunnhilde sporting a costume modelled on the Matterhorn by someone with poor double vision; by contrast there’s another which resembles a French maid’s outfit (it may have been meant for my wife, but I found it quite fetching); there’s another that has an illustration of one of Scotland’s greatest culinary creations and bears the legend “I ate all the pies”; are people trying to tell me something?)

This year’s Christmas was little different in the respect of slaving away cooking for Scotland while having a laugh exchanging presents that are surprisingly thoughtful given how we all lead such busy lives.

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How this year was different was that Jackie and I had the joy of having our first grandchild of 18 months with us – which is why the TV never went on until he had finally succumbed to exhaustion. As is usual (for it was the same with our own kids), the fancy, colourful, noisy (and often expensive) toys that had first caught the eye were discarded to the side with preference being given by Jamie to a wooden spoon, a cloth ball, a pair of drumsticks – and that wooden spoon again.

How kids love the simple things! Somehow I just cannot see adverts by Fisher-Price or Tonka for their new “educational” and “indestructible” wooden spoons – but maybe if Toys ‘R’ Us had sold wooden spoons they wouldn’t have got into financial trouble?

Today I get more of a rest, everybody is exhausted from the high expectations and feasting of Christmas Day and so nobody thinks twice if I don’t have a pinnie on but am instead laughing along to a DVD of Bob Hope in the The Road To Bali at 10am while others reach for the Nurofen (whatever became of Andrews Liver Salts?).

Eventually, like the opening scene from Das Rheingold the siren calls of the stove seduce me and there I am rustling-up a quick minestrone soup from the turkey leftovers and, as 10cc recommended in one of their best-ever hits, served up with Parmesan cheese (freshly grated, of course).

Afterwards as I take a soak in the bath and it leads me to contemplate the year ahead. For Christmas is like buying a new car, you are already thinking about your next one no sooner has it happened.

Once Christmas is over, some people go to the sales (never understood why you would want to by more “stuff” when you’ve just been given shed-loads, but it helps make the world go round), others go to the football (I’m jealous, but my team plays today), while the rest of us think about what we can do next year to make it better than the one just past.

Next year will be decidedly different. My step-daughter’s expecting a second grandchild in the summer, so it has to be. Life is indeed a minestrone, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.