There are 21 days until Christmas.
Through The Kitchen Window
by Susan Hill
Christmas ... the cake, the mincemeat and the pudding are made, and then the smells of Christmas cooking begin to seep through the house, to linger there, in cracks and corners ...
It is spicy, hinting of exotic places. There is cinnamon from Sri Lanka, there are cloves from Zanzibar, there is ginger from China and Jamaica, nutmeg from the tree called Myrta fragrans that grows in the Indies.
On the table, bowls of dried fruit in dark, glistening mounds, currants, raisins, sultanas, dates, with piles of chopped peel and strips of crystallised citrus, and cherries stickily soaked in sugar. Crumbly creamy suet, pith and zest of oranges and lemons, together with apples, Blenheims and Bramleys, Lambourne and Cox, all neatly chopped.
Everyone comes to stir the pudding and the fumes of the brandy rise up. The wishes are all made. Christmas has begun.