Before I create the wrong impression, I don’t hate Christmas. It wins most of us over in the end. Even Ebeneezer and The Grinch eventually had to concede to joining in the festivities, so what hope have I of resisting the seasonal cheer?
As it happens, I am quite partial to a warm mince pie, drizzled with cream, by a blazing log fire. The smell of baking ham on Christmas Eve comforts me. The twinkle of fairy lights makes me smile. The Pogues, “Fairytale of New York” brings tears to my eyes because it is tinged with memories of Christmases past, good times and more poignant times.
But…I know you sensed the but….the Christmas obsession that appears to now start in September, does irk me….a lot. This makes me seem a tad Bah! Humbug! It creates the impression that I am more team Scrooge than team Santa. And I am really not. It is just that the inextricable link that seems to exist between a spiritual holiday and crass materialism leaves me a little cold. Do homes really need to be Winter Wonderlands to be festive and welcoming? Do gifts really need to be so extravagant to be meaningful?
Yet I do love to shop. And I love food. And I have always loved picking out gifts to put a smile on someone else’s face. So I admit, Christmas as a holiday has a lot going for it.
This year, in an attempt to reconcile my conflicting views on the season of goodwill, I have decided to look particularly at gifts that are local to the area I grew up in. It is my personal compromise. Not too showy, made with love, supporting the local economy. These will be my gifts of choice. And to start off some fabulous finds for the foodie in your life.
- Lorge Handmade Chocolate, Kenmare. Choose from a vast array of irresistible handmade chocolate or even a chocolate making class. http://lorge.ie/shop/
- Harty’s Jelly. The Original Pepper Jelly elevates a cheeseboard into something really special. http://www.hartysfoods.com/products_hartys_foods.html
- A gift voucher or a hamper from Tralee’s fine food emporium, Kingdom Food and Wine. There are few gifts that I would prefer to unwrap on Christmas morning.
- Dingle Gin, with some tonic and a lime. If I wasn’t sipping champagne from my vintage teacups with the girls, this would be the perfect alternative. http://www.dingledistillery.ie/
- A seafood hamper that includes organic smoked salmon and the to die for seafood pate from Quinlan’s, a family company who fish, cook and sell the finest of seafood. http://www.kerryfish.com/quinlans_fish_shop/
- Anyone who thinks ice cream is not a winter food doesn’t make enough warm apple crumbles. And this is ice cream made with love, the kind of ice cream that cures a broken heart. Ice cream that begs to be eaten straight from the tub, under a duvet, with a soppy festive movie. Think “The Holiday” or “Love Actually”. Dear Santa, please, please can you send me a year’s supply… http://www.murphysicecream.ie/
- Some beautiful pottery hand-crafted by Louis Mulcahy. Because beautiful food longs to be served on beautiful dishes. http://www.louismulcahy.com/
- Artisan ingredients for a Christmas Morning Full Irish. The tiny village of Annascaul produces not just black pudding but high quality sausages and rashers. Just add free range eggs from your nearest friendly farmer or farmers’ market. http://www.annascaulblackpudding.com/
- It’s Christmas, you can have a craft beer with breakfast if you like. A great gift for the beer enthusiast in your life is a selection of local craft brews like this one from West Kerry. http://dinglebrewingcompany.com/
- Finally, one of my favourite kitchen accessories is an Ambri wooden chopping board. Great for preparing food, great for serving food, great to look at. Made with beautiful local wood and carved with a real passion for the product being shaped. http://ambrichoppingboards.com/