Christmas 2020 – Our 1-Year Engagement Anniversary

Liam refuses to accept that an engagement anniversary is a real thing, but it’s written in a blog so now it’s real.

Yes, a year ago yesterday, Christmas Day 2019, Liam bent the knee and I took the iron throne… no, of course I mean he placed the white gold ring on my finger… well, on the chain around my neck until we got it resized on January 3rd. We’ve been engaged for one year, and what a year eh?!

It’s Boxing Day 2020. Liam is ironing and I’m putting the freshly-pressed clothes on hangers while watching my favourite festive film: ‘The Holiday’. What a film! It’s funny watching it now engaged, and remembering all the years when I felt like Iris with some Jasper or other leading me along and inevitably to the bottom of a bottle of wine, or gin. I can’t count the amount of times I tweeted “I need to be more like Kate Winslet with the axe in ‘Titanic’ and less like Kate Winslet in ‘The Holiday’ over the gas hob!”. Well no more.

So what has happened in our first year of engagement? Well a fair bit: a new virus swept the globe, a useless track and trace system was introduced, a vaccine was found, I (Jay) completed my Masters Degree, our Frenchie lost both his balls then one eye-ball, Debenhams is closing, we got a hot tub and we have a post-Brexit trade agreement. Some things have stayed consistent: BoJo hasn’t got a clue, Pigs in Blankets remain the best Christmas food and Shirley Ballas is still the Krampus of Wallasey, stealing dreams and ruining Christmas for all by appearing on every Christmas show in the TV guide… although she’s got a new set of gnashers from Argos making her witchy smile look like the rim of ceramic lampshade.

But what about on the wedding front? Well I wrote about us finding our venue in my last blog: The Wedding Plandemic… and for the record, I was informed after publishing the last blog that Plandemic is the phrase the tin-foil brigade use to suggest that COVID-19 is all a planned hoax to control the public. I am not of that mind and I’m not gonna use that phrase anymore, thanks tin foilers!

So yes, we found the venue and we were talking to the caterers. Well, we went one step further. 2 weeks ago when Lockdown the Sequel we went to Scale (the venue) for a supper club with Fig and the Wild (the caterers). If we weren’t sold already, well this stunning meal in the gorgeous room has sealed the deal.

[Cameron Diaz just met Sophie and Olivia… the 3 Musketeers line always makes me cry, no matter how many times I hear it]

Let’s talk food… welcome drinks, delicious canapés plus 3 delicious courses… heaven. The menu:

  • Canapés – smoked salmon and whipped creme fraiche toasts, crispy veg peelings with curry salt, pork chilli and fennel sausage rolls
  • Starter – Smoked clove and venison samosa with beetroot chutney
  • Main – 6 hour red wine braised lamb shank with rosemary garlic potatoes and gremolata
  • Dessert – Clementine and cardamom tart with vanilla creme fraiche

Plus the welcome drink was a cranberry and thyme Winter gin fizz. We ordered a bottle of white then a bottle of red and finished up with a glass of bubbles at the end.

So yup, we have our venue and our caterers, and in the new year after the madness of Christmas (and the self-assessment tax deadline!) we’ll pay the deposits, make the pencil a pen and get those save the dates sent out. Not forgetting that we have our photographer (@clickedbykate) so we’ll be able to confirm the date with her too!

[Jude just told Cameron Diaz he loves her… what a pleb she was for not saying it back!]

It’s 19 months away until July 2022, ironic in the year of COVID-19. So what’s next? Planning the colour scheme I think, which will add a splash of colour to January’s palette.

But before that, let’s enjoy Christmas. Christmas is reduced this year; less extravagant, less people, but no less Merry. You find creative ways to spend it with those you love adhering to the restrictions and rules as best you can, and you realise those who are important to spend the season with. Some Christmas traditions endure and some are altered.

[Jasper just turned up at Iris’s/Cameron Diaz’s door in LA… hate him!]

Christmas PJs are definitely a Scouse thing I think… my mum always gets us the Matalan Christmas PJs which we wear on the night we decorate our tree and then again on Christmas morning.

Liam’s mum always creates Christmas hampers for all of her kids in mid-December then on Christmas Eve she cooks a ham, which couldn’t happen this year as she now lives and works in Wales, so Liam boiled, glazed (with honey and mustard) and roasted his own. Served with chippy chips on thick bread with lashings of butter… dribble mouth emoji…

Our mildly tipsy visit to midnight mass (sorry, Eucharist, Liam!) still happened but in masks, sitting on the left side of the church to leave the right side clean for the Christmas morning service, with no communion wine (the best part!) and with NO SINGING… I cannot tell you how much it hurt me to sit silent whilst Mike the organist played ‘O Come All Ye Faithful’ and the congregation missed out on me singing the descant!

[Iris just got rid of Jasper… gumption!]

Christmas morning wasn’t as jam-packed as it usually is. We couldn’t do the rounds like we usually do, so gifts were dropped at doorstops in advance and we got to take our time opening presents with my parents and sister, with our usual cup of mulled wine and bacon buttie.

[Arthur just climbed the stairs at his ceremony… scroodly doo…]

No Christmas morning would be complete without a visit to the cemetary to see my Nanny Teresa and Nanny Gladys. We always pay our respects to their neighbours too, Emmanuel buried opposite and Cilla Black (yes the actual Cilla) buried diagonally across from Nanny Tre… thankfully this tradition was still able to take place (in matching novelty Tiger King tracksuits courtesy of Grooms Maid Kellie) which was a nice Surprise, Surprise.

[Jude Law is crying, Cameron Diaz is crying, I’m crying]

Another Christmas tradition now in its twelfth year (I love the spelling of twelfth, gives me joy every time I type it! Twelfth.) is my annual glamour shot with Liz… Queenie and I pose together every year at 3pm as she begins her annual Christmas address… she possibly doesn’t know we pose but I like to think that she checks out my insta feed just to see this year’s edition!

And this year, after a year that has taken so much I have begun a new tradition of giving my own Christmas Day hampers for my nearest and dearest: packages of festive treats, nibbles, drinks, games and luxuries for the home. It was so much fun and I’m already looking forward to collecting the baskets to restock next year!

On the subject of presents… Blue’s traditional Christmas Day stuffed toy massacre went ahead without a hitch. This year’s brand new duck lasted a record-breaking seven minutes (18:55 to 19.02. RIP Malcolm) which is his personal best! To think that this dog was paralysed from the waist down two Christmases ago due to a slipped disc caused by IVDD and now is back and stronger than ever despite losing three balls in two months is nothing short of a Christmas miracle!!!

[You Send Me is playing, everyone is wearing black and dancing in Jude Law’s living room and Cameron Diaz has served a plate of canapés that would only last me about 2.5 minutes before they were gone. What a film, Christmas is complete].

Christmas for me used to be a stressful time of year; producing pantos and putting the joy of others ahead of my own leaving myself over-worked, underpaid, over-exhausted and under the table drunk by 5pm! I was Kate Winslet, Iris… self-destructive and needing a break from all the Jaspers… it seems all too fitting that Liam the musician came in as my Jack Black, the musician from the Holiday, and now thanks to the engagement and its yearly anniversary (it’s happening!) Christmas is a romantic time of togetherness, all too fitting in the year of coming together to maintain social distance.

So from me and mine to you and yours, I hope you had a wonderful Christmas Day. The coming weeks are likely to bring more restrictions and most likely another national lockdown. If 2020 taught us anything it’s to help each other, reach out to those who might be on their own and savour the time spent with those we love when we get to. I’m off to whack on a black outfit, eat canapés and dance around the living room… Darling you… send me…

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