Today is January 20th and it’s a bit funny going into shops. Some still have their Christmas products for sale and they look a bit like someone who turns up at a party in fancy dress to be told that we changed the theme last week and didn’t you get the email?
That was a long night wearing a chicken costume. In July.
But alongside the festive party products that have slowly moved into the reduced aisle go the mince pies. Which is sad as I love mince pies.
I really really really love mince pies.
For a few weeks a year we’re all about the mince pies. We’re all over that shit. Mince pies for breakfast, mince pies with your lunch. Another mince pie at about 4ish with a nice cup of tea. One more mince pie after dinner? Why not eh? Fuck it, it’s Christmas. Let’s just eat them and deck our halls with boughs of mince pies. Hang mince pies from the light fittings and go for a cheeky kiss under a mince pie. Have a massive non-drop mince pie in your house and hang decorations from it. Yes! The Queen’s Christmas Message this year was in 3D and I’m pretty sure it was her just sitting there eating a mince pie and saying ‘One thinks mince pies are totes shawesomeballs.’
But, what happens after Christmas time? Come January they’re moved from pride of place in the supermarket to the reduced section. They’ve gone from the talk of the town to the whisper of the village. Replaced by some sort of egg-based celebratory confectionery.
Bah fucking humbug. I’m pretty sure Jesus would disapprove of this.
I’ve always loved mince pies. My gran used to make me mince pies all year round as she knew I loved them. Not small ones but large, mahoosive ones baked in clear pyrex casserole dish lids. They were lovely. Nothing amazingly amazing cooking skills in her doing so. She bought premade puff pastry and jars of mincemeat. But she made them just so we could sit down and share them. We’d sit at her dining table and eat half a pie each, covered in custard. They were massive pies. Warm from the oven but filled with another warmth that can only come from a heart that loves another. The definition of comfort food.
And then, when it was time to say goodbye she’d give me another one to take home! So I could have a mince pie outside of silly season.
This is how great my gran was. She’d make mince pies all year round because no-one else is sensible or intelligent enough to do so. And she’d always make enough so we could share one and one I could take one home to scoff all by myself.
The eulogy I gave at her funeral talked of her life, briefly, but I spoke about how much she meant to me. It was personal, honest and I read the word’s I’d written clearly. Mostly. I wasn’t talking to an assembled mass of people. I wasn’t telling them how much I loved her. I was telling her. She was about 8 feet away in a coffin and couldn’t hear, but it was the last time we’d be in the same room together and I had to say what I had to say.
I finished by saying how honoured I was to be asked to say something about my gran at her funeral. My family didn’t want a minister or priest saying things about someone so close to them. They wanted someone who knew her to say goodbye. They wanted someone to say the things we all felt. They wanted someone who could construct a few sentences about her, us, and how we all fitted together.
I held it together for the most part but when I ended it, I talked about the mince pies she made. As soon as I said those words I fell apart a bit. My voice wobbled and cracked and my eyes filled with tears. A big one plopped onto the A4 sheet I was holding in my trembling hands. My chest heaved. I took a deep breath and carried on.
Why did I talk about mince pies? I dunno.
Perhaps because they’re really fucking important. The fact that someone would stand and make something they knew I liked. The fact that they spent time and effort doing something which they knew would make me smile. The fact that they would open the door and, despite seeing me the day before, say ‘Oh my. You grow each time I see you.’ The fact that they didn’t judge. The fact that they smiled whenever you were with them. I still cannot remember what my gran looks like with a grumpy face as I’ve never seen it.
The fact that they gave a shit.
Mince pies are awesome and shouldn’t be just for Christmas.
Thanks for reading.