A major achievement was the survival of all the toddlers who celebrated New Year at the lake house. We knew this because written in large letters on a piece of paper attached to the fridge were the words THE WAY TO ENJOY YOUR NEW YEAR'S EVE IS TO WATCH YOUR CHILDREN.
I asked my friend whose family owned the lake house, if her mother had written this message specially for us, a group of 40 to 50 year old professionals, and she nodded.
Despite the close proximity of house to water, despite the sheer drop from lake edge down to actual water, no child was lost, although some parents did lose years off their life as they caught a glimpse of a wandering midget, choked on their champagne and swiftly ran to tackle the little darling who was meandering towards the concrete edge.
As the children fell asleep or were sedated or restrained as appropriate, we adults gathered around the table and remarked on the beauty of the lake and the serenity of the sunset and the brilliance of the assembled company. We ate extremely nice things culminating in a Summer Pudding, and ended just before midnight with the drawing of a 'destiny card' for the new year, which would perhaps give us a focus and direction as we considered what was to come.
C selected DETAILS which made him frown as it reminded him that we need to do our tax almost immediately. I drew PLEASURE which made me very pleased indeed and reminded me that I still have Lucy's voucher for a pedicure and massage waiting for me.
I decided to increase my capacity for PLEASURE by forcing the friend who had made the Summer Pudding tell me the recipe, exactly.
He had made the same pudding a few days earlier for our traditional Boxing Day picnic. At the time of eating he had briefly left the picnic rug to attend to his toddler's needs. Someone, I'm not pointing fingers here, had said "Let's eat the Summer Pudding." Someone Else made the first incision and, adding freshly whipped cream to their bowl, tasted the pudding and gave their response which was favourable.
What followed, on that hot Boxing Day afternoon, was a frenzy of Summer Pudding gorging that could only be compared to a scene from Lord Of The Flies. The pudding maker returned soon after and feasted on the few scraps remaining. For days after I had been dwelling on that pudding. Even on New Year's Eve, in the car on the way to the Lake I had talked to C about the pudding, remarking yet again, on the frightening mob mentality that had overtaken seemingly civilised people. Some cream, some berries, a little sugar syrup and those chunky Italian sponge finger biscuits, that's all it took. Maybe some sherry.
"There's no way, he'll make that pudding again for us," I gloomily muttered to C as we parked under the trees by the house. "We just don't deserve it."
So imagine my delight, when dessert time had come and out rolled the familiar rounded pile of purple soaked sponge with accompanying basin of cream.
"Tell me how you do it", I slurred at the pudding maker. "Just tell me, and don't leave anything out." He did so, quite jovially, and then again, a little less so when i told him I didn't hear the first time because I was guzzling my champagne. And then I loudly told it back to him just to make sure I had it right.
The next morning, bleary eyed and desperate for caffeine, I decided to extend the PLEASURE by making everyone coffee. As I leaned hard on the coffee plunger I thought a little ruefully of all the chocolate and alcohol and fat filled products I have consumed this festive season. And how much I enjoyed them.
There is a fine line between PLEASURE and PAIN as I discovered when boiling coffee suddenly exploded out of the pot burning my left wrist, my right underarm and various spots on my torso.
I decided bugger the coffee, what I actually wanted was a cold shower and some ice.
Some may see this as an ominous start to the year but I prefer to think of it as a 'wake up call' or perhaps even an encouragement to take up my idle notion of giving up coffee and alcohol. Also it reminded me that cold showers are refreshing and invigorating, and that coffee plungers should not be pushed dow hard when there is resistance.
However, I have made one definite resolution, apart from that one of destroying all coffee plungers in the known world.
I have decided that THE WAY TO ENJOY 2009 IS TO MAKE THIS THE YEAR OF THE SUMMER PUDDING.
Even in Winter.