Christmas, like many celebrations, brings with it numerous traditions. Some widespread. Some personal to families. There is something warm and familiar about a tradition, which is why most of us return to them year on year. Whether you have a family outing to the panto, have a big Christmas party with your friends, go to midnight mass or take a long walk in the fresh air on Boxing Day, they are all special traditions that can mean so much to people.
I traditionally make a lot of the Christmas food each year. I enjoy doing it, it makes me feel festive in the build-up to the big day but it's also a special way for me to show my appreciation to my family and friends. However, on the flip side I absolutely hate habit and routine for routine's sake. I cannot have the same thing for breakfast more than a couple of days in a row without feeling rather uncomfortable and lacking in creativity. That said, since having the children routine has become my friend in some ways. They flourish in the routine and where I see the benefit of it, I am happy to accept that it is not always my enemy.
So to strike a balance between my love of Christmas traditions and my fear of becoming stuck in an uncreative repetitive cycle I change the types of things I make each year. For instance, last year I made a fig and cranberry Christmas pudding. This year I have made our pudding again but I have gone for a dark Guinness version. For the last couple of years I have made Nigella's chocolate Christmas cake. It was so good that I did actually make it two years on the trot. However, to do it again this year is a step too far for me so I have gone all continental and made Delia's Italian chocolate and nut cake. It didn't rise quite as much as I would have liked but it smells delicious and I love the idea that it can be served with whipped cream or icecream as well as traditionally on its own with a cuppa or a glass of port.
The cake stores in the fridge for up to 2 weeks so I only made this yesterday so it will last for the length of the Christmas holiday, should it not be snaffled-up in the first couple of days!