I’ve written about the little supermarket up the road a few times; most memorably was the time I was asked to present my Seniors Card almost two decades ahead of being eligible to receive one. It’s where I do most of my shopping and for some reason, strangers don’t mind striking up a conversation.
December is a manic month with everyone stretched beyond limits as the school year comes to an end with all its concerts and graduations, the summer heat sets in, and Christmas races towards you with such a speed you feel unable to catch your breath.
And in amongst it all, some children have birthdays.
Last week I was moving along the aisles in the supermarket when I saw a woman coming towards me at high speed looking incredibly anxious. She clearly thought she only needed to pick up a few things as she didn’t have a trolley and now her two arms were burdened with such a bundle she looked like she was struggling to balance.
I asked her if I could fetch her a trolley and she said she was on her way to the check-out and would try to manage. She said, ‘I’m just here to get the prizes for my son’s sixth birthday party; it’s tomorrow’.
I said, ‘Oh, I hope the party goes well’.
I think she needed to vent because then she said, ‘Can you believe some people had the hide to only let me know this morning that their son is coming to the party? And not to mention there are still those who haven’t even bothered to reply. Am I supposed to cater for them as well? I suppose I’ll have to make them a lolly bag just in case they do turn up.’
‘I’ve had many children’s parties and I know what you’re talking about; some people don’t RSVP’.
‘This is his first party; I’ve got away with it up until now, but now he’s at school so he’s aware children have birthday parties so I couldn’t not give him a party. I’m so stressed and I’ve only got two children to do parties for; just two a year and I’m a mess. I’m one of 10 children; I don’t know how my mother did it. And my mother can’t believe how much I’m spending on this party; I think she’s stopped breathing from the shock of it.’
‘Kid’s parties do seem to cost a lot these days. A friend of mine had one recently and she hired a sports guy to come and play games with the kids. I think she paid him around $350.00’.
And her face lit up. ‘That’s what I’m doing; we’ve booked the sports guy. We’re having it at a tennis club so it’s all nice and there’s a cafe if parents want to get themselves a tea or a coffee. I can’t believe I’m spending that much on a kid’s party. And I’ve got mums ringing me asking if it’s okay if they drop off early and pick up late and is it okay if a sibling also comes to the party and I’m on the razor’s edge’.
‘Yes, it’s difficult and I don’t know why people think it’s okay to drop off a few extra kids’.
‘Probably so they can go and do their Christmas shopping. And what is with the fake philanthropy! I’ve had people phone me up asking if instead of bringing a present, is it okay if they instead make a donation to an orphanage in India. I said, ‘For f–k’s sake, he’s six years old; if you’re going to come, bring a present’. If they want to have a birthday party for their son and they’re happy to tell their son he won’t be getting any presents because instead they’re asking everyone to donate money to an orphanage in India, fine, but that’s not what we’re doing. I know kids get a lot these days but for f–k’s sake, he’s six years old. He’s not going to understand that at his party there weren’t any presents because everyone instead gave money to an Indian orphanage. He’s not old enough to even know where India is. I don’t know what these people are thinking; is it to appease their own conscience or are they trying to have everyone believe they’re the pillar of Christian charity? I take my kids to a nursing home every fortnight to brighten up the day of the residents. You should see the condition these people are living in; it’s a disgrace. If these Indian orphanage do-gooders who think it’s a dud idea to bring a gift to a six-year old’s birthday party were serious about doing something good, they’d be concerned about the conditions older Australians are living in two suburbs away in nursing homes. If you want to be charitable you don’t just have to look overseas; you can look a little closer to home.’
‘It’s so true that we do have a lot of needy people so close by and it’s really good of you to take your children to visit those in nursing homes. I do hope the party goes well’.
‘Thanks. 4pm tomorrow and it’ll all be over. Nice to meet you.’
‘Nice to meet you too’.
I think someone needs a valium!
It is a manic time on year and with a bursting schedule, I’m glad I don’t also have to squeeze in a birthday party. I’m continuing with my Christmas baking and still trying to use up the chocolate I bought for Arabella’s 21st (if you’re not tired of hearing about the leftover chocolate!) I’m going to a carols event soon where everyone will bring a dish to share and I’m thinking of making some Christmas pudding truffles.
I didn’t have to go to the shops and buy any of the small number of ingredients; everything that was needed was already in my kitchen. These little puddings are quick and easy to make, it’s a no-bake recipe, and they’re gluten-free. And I think they look very festive.
- 250g dark chocolate, chopped
- ½ cup thickened cream
- 1 tsp butter
- 1 tsp dark rum
- ¼ cup toasted hazelnuts, chopped
- ¾ cup rice bubbles, crushed
- 50g white chocolate, chopped
- red and green glace cherries
- Combine chocolate and cream in a heatproof bowl and microwave until just melted. Add butter and rum and stir to combine. Place in fridge to harden.
- Combine hazelnuts and rice bubbles in a small bowl.
- Remove chocolate mixture from fridge. Beat with an electric hand beater until soft peaks form. (This doesn't take long). Return mixture to the fridge to harden.
- Remove mixture from the fridge and roll small amounts of the mixture into balls then coat in rice bubble mixture. Place on a tray lined with baking paper and return to the fridge to keep cool.
- Melt white chocolate gently in microwave.
- Cut cherries into holly shapes.
- Remove truffles from the fridge, drizzle with white chocolate then quickly decorate with cherries.
- Keep in the fridge.