Holiday Celebrations

November means…. by Fiona Lowe

The first weekend in November  every year for me means ‘soak the Christmas cake fruit.’ It’s also code for starting to realise that December 25th is not that far away and really, if I want life to be a bit easier come December, I should start planning.


Last weekend was the first weekend of November but I was in the Victorian high-country visiting Boy Wonder and the following day I was on a plane down to Hobart to help pack up my eldest son who is home for the summer. While I was there, I visited fellow author Melanie Milburne who had already made her Christmas puddings!

So this weekend, I sat down with the scissors christmas fruitand I cut up my Christmas cake fruit. It will now soak in whiskey, rum, brandy, vanilla essence and lemon essence for a month. I’ll bake it early in December.

This recipe of sultanas, raisins, currants, dates, mixed peel, glacé cherries and almonds was given to our family by a friend of my grandmother. The recipe said soak the fruit for three days.

One year, I had soaked the fruit and then I had a car accident. With broken ribs and a broken arm, I couldn’t bake the cake and my mother didn’t have time to do it for me until after it had been soaking for a month. That year, my Christmas cake tasted THE BEST it ever had so now, on Melbourne Cup weekend every year, I cut up the fruit and set it soaking. If you’d like to give it shot, you’ll find the recipe here.

As a family, we also start thinking about the Christmas letter and cards. We go through the year and think about all the dumb stuff we did…I write a very self-deprecating letter 😉 We have a charities card-shop in town  that opens in mid November and again, that is my cue to get organized.

However, I don’t want you to think I am this anal-retentive organized freak 😉 cos really, I’m not. I am rubbish with organising presents and as hard as I try, I usually end up having to buy at least two…for the difficult people… on those last crazy shopping days. Hmm, writing this blog makes me think, what if I make a list now! Thing is DH’s birthday is November 23rd …what WAS his mother thinking…so I don’t do the present list until after that date.

Newborn Baby for ChristmasUSA

Oh, and Christmas books …I read those in December. Lucky for me, Harlequin puts out a bevy of holiday reading!

So what are your prompts for Christmas? Have you got it all done by September? Are you still shopping December 24th? Do you bake a fruit cake or boil a plum pudding a couple of months before? I’d love to hear your stories.


19 thoughts on “November means…. by Fiona Lowe”

  1. I love Christmas – only 44 more sleeps. I’ve already started buying presents ( I have 25 nieces and nephews, 4 Godchildren,a DH, 2 boys, parents and in-laws so I have to get started early!) I think we really need to start a Secret Santa system 🙂 but that’s as far as I’ve got until a few days before. I have a very organised (“bossy”) older sister who loves to sort out the family events (I guess she qualifies as my prompt!) – and apparently it’s my turn to have Christmas lunch for 20 but everyone brings food and we have the same menu every Christmas so no surprises there! The only extra job for me is setting the scene and choosing good Christmas crackers and then looking forward to relaxing that night AFTER we’ve been to my in-laws with 50 more of “the sisters and the cousins and the aunts” 🙂 Phew! But your post has reminded me i do need to send cards – maybe once this next WIP is finished!!

  2. Fiona,
    I’m sorry about the accident but to funny you blame it on a cake!. Your cake sounds like a lot of work but I may give it a go.
    I found out a long time ago that I’m not a good Christian if I wait to the last minute to buy gifts. Most of my shopping is already done. That way I can get in lines and smile. I never decorate before Dec. 1. We have Thanksgiving to think about first here. I do over do the trees but have scaled down over the years. I used to make fun of people who said it took them a day to decorate but I now find it takes at least that long or more.
    Love the Christmas book cover. Hard to beat a baby and a Santa hat!

    1. LOL, Susan, the cake didn’t cause the accident. It just taught us to soak the fruit longer. It really isn’t a lot of work…just starting early to soak. The baking takes four hours so I do it on a day I am home. I do enjoy decorating the tree too!

  3. You are way ahead of me in the Christmas cake stakes, Fiona! Every year I mean to start early but somehow never get round to it so my cake will probably follow the pattern of all the others: Three days before Christmas, soak fruit overnight, make it, then feed it dribbles of brandy (or any other spirit that takes your fancy!) I usually end up icing it on Boxing Day – too full to think about eating it on Christmas day. The icing is still quite soft when I cut into it but that’s how we like it. (If you’ve never eaten it any other way then that’s how you expect it to be :>) No doubt it will be the same this year….

  4. I’m a late developer when it comes to xmas – it usually creeps up on me and I rush round and do everything late. Your christmas cake sounds delicious- sadly, I’m the only one in my family who loves Xmas cake, so i don’t make one, otherwise I’d be huge by New Year!

  5. Fruit cake here in the US is not a desirable eating experience. I’ll have to check out your recipe. As for plum pudding…what’s that? I need another recipe, obviously. Oh, and what are sultanas? Do you know if we might have a suitable substitute?

    I’ve done little to get ready for Christmas. I’m working on a few handmade gifts, but need to get through Thanksgiving first. My son is coming with a new girlfriend to introduce to the family. Whee!

    1. Carol, what you call raisins we call sultanas. For some reason our raisins in Australia are a lot bigger. Different grapes I guess. When I lived in the USA, I just put in double the amount of USA raisins 🙂 I am a bit of a history buff and I can tell you that Americans ate Plum pudding up until somepoint during the civil war and then it vanished. Perhaps supplies were hard to get and by the end of four years the recipe was lost. Don’t know. But when I went to Old World Wisconsin Christmas re-enactment set a year before the Civil War, plum pudding and fruit cake were on the menu!

  6. Awww, gorgeous cover on your Xmas romance, Fiona!

    I’m feeling a bit Grinchy – we don’t do presents and I don’t like Christmas cake or plum pudding! But I do enjoy the excuse of getting together with friends in the lead up to Xmas, and the whole Xmas Day get together and the over-eating and my mother-in-law’s wicked pavlova (even if I do pay for it afterwards!) And I love the Xmas aftermath where there are leftovers in the fridge for days and days and days and I have to get imaginative with ways to use the last of the Xmas ham! And then there’s the Boxing Day BBQ with friends! So I guess I’m not too Grinchy, really… am I! LOL

    Love your callistemon pic – that looks very Xmassy with the red and green!

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