Christmas pantos and Italian festivities
We have a huge annual Family Christmas Tea party for all the little ones and this year it fell to us. I had rather cheekily hijacked Rhea (she does lots of Fairy parties) to help us with the 12 children and keeping some form of order at my father’s home – and I kind of presumed the 20 adults would fend for themselves! It’s something I have done since I was about 6 years old and have every desire to continue the tradition. This way all the cousins get to stay in touch and Christmas really is about family. The next day I had barely recovered from eating cheeky honey glazed cocktail sausages and Bunny & Boo cupcakes when it was all action stations to get all my little girl and Godchildren fed and off to the panto. This is another serious Beckwith tradition and I just love every minute of watching the children’s faces in utter wonder. It is priceless and luckily the panto is ideal for the slightly restless or timid. This year was Violet’s first and she was beyond excited as she chose a slightly too small, red party dress and insisted on wearing her hair down like her two beautiful cousins.
Wimbledon Theatre is my traditional port of call as it’s where I grew up and also it belongs to my father’s Ambassador Theatre Group. Quite handy if I have messed up on numbers! This year they had gone mad and created Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. The cast was genius with glamourpuss and Hollywood royalty Priscilla Presley as The Wicked Queen, my good friend Warrick Davis as Prof and the very silly comedien Jarred Christmas as Herman. There were 15 of us, so we pretty much took up a whole row but it was, as always, glittery and silly and a great old sing along. Warrick’s surprise song (for those who may still be waiting to see it) was absolutely hilarious and Priscilla’s costumes were a grown girls dream. Afterwards we all snuck backstage to visit Warrick who had to do it all again that night! The panto may seem fun but it’s a brutal schedule.
We finally wrapped my new TV show Four Rooms and I was a bit sad to say goodbye. You spend an incredibly intense period of time with total strangers and then when its time to leave you feel as if you have all been together forever. I had so enjoyed my time with the crew I decided to get them some cold beers as a way of saying thank you. It goes without saying the idea was far more appreciated than chocolates!
A final supper with our mad gang at the uber Christmassy, Annabel’s. We were a cosy table of ten and it was nice to take time out to thank our friends for being such good friends to us. We of course had traditional turkey with all the trimmings and rather copious amounts of red wine, but sadly we did not take the Jefferies lead and go to bed …We insisted or rather I insisted on a last drop at Hertford Street. Of course that was the final straw and the following morning wasn’t at all pretty!
Giorgio and I had to pack up the house and catch a silly o’clock flight to Milan for a Christmas with his family. Milan has been freezing and I seem to have packed for an entirely different trip! Not a sock in my suitcase or a long sleeved anything! Where was the brain?! The best part of the Italian trip was the night we had a very chic dinner at one of Giorgio’s best friends’ apartments and my new Alaia dress that was hanging and ready to go suddenly didn’t have any tights to go with it! White bare legs were not an option – my husband nearly threw me out of the window! He cannot understand how I just don’t care about the small details! I tried to say I had been somewhat busy in the lead up to Christmas but he was having none of it. All was resolved as I came up with a slightly less chic plan B. On our way out of the Hotel Baglioni I popped to the loo and as I came out I thought of my friend Goga who now lives in Milan. As I turned around to dry my hands there she was! We both screamed and then gave each other a huge hug. She had also just popped into the loo from the airport – life is full of coincidences!
Finally the big day of indulgence and family arrived. Waking up in Milan with Giorgio’s parents was a very different variant of Christmas morning as we had, as all good Italians have, a huge celebratory Christmas Eve. In Europe they tend to give the presents and have a huge meal on Christmas Eve. I took this all in my stride and, although it totally goes against the grain to open a single gift before Christmas morning, I decided to let it go. I had helped Violet write her letter to Santa and we had a huge ceremony of setting it alight in the fireplace. She was most concerned that it was being burnt. Sadly not a jot of Turkey, a spoonful of bread sauce or any of the little pigs in blankets that I just go crazy for… Instead home made tortellini in broth and a Capon! It was all wonderful though and Violet saw a true Italian traditional version of Christmas. She was up the next morning and flew down the stone staircase to see if Father Chritsmas had indeed been clever enough to find her in Italy. Low and behold he had. The best thing about being almost 4yrs old is that any present big or small, expensive or cheap as chips, they all still count. It’s more the unwrapping that excites her. Her divinely eccentric Nonna Marina had succumbed and bought her a dwarf hamster which was promptly named Romeo. I am not sure if she is quite clear on the fact that these little creatures live quite long lives… Giorgio had gone a bit OTT in Tom Ford and so I was a tad spoilt, but it was Violet’s homemade china bowls that she had lovingly made in a pottery class that made the No.1 spot, going to prove that it really is all about family, time and effort that makes or breaks a Christmas. Of course none of this is worth it if there isn’t, at some point, a major spat of some kind… Luckily for me when it kicks off in high speed Italian at my in laws I really don’t have a clue what its all about!
Now off to Dominican Republic for the New Year. Happy New Year to you all! I hope to have lots more adventures in 2013 to share with you.