Ahhh, the sleepless season. I mean festive season. I recently accomplished an international plane flight with both my girls (no, I wasn’t the pilot but it took so much skill and finesse I feel justified using that particular verb) and since then baby number 2 just will not settle. Flat out refuses. Clearly she does not appreciate that after I coped with them both on the plane we landed in a hurricane and my stroller came out of stowage with a punctured wheel. It was awesome.

So, as you can imagine, I have needed therapy. Lots of therapy. Therapy that looks like this:


That medicine, right there, is my Mum’s Christmas cake. It’s made from a recipe by Annabel Langbein, who is one of NZ’s most beloved cooks. It is delicious. It is so sticky and full of nuts and fruit that I told her it really should be called “Christmas Pudding Cake”. Even Mum, who suffers from practically crippling humility admitted that the neighbours at her neighbourhood Christmas party were “quite taken with it”. Yes, my Mum watches too much Downton Abbey. But truly – it’s a cake to be quite taken with. Or taken by? Ah, whatever. Make it, make it, you will see!

Here is the most splendid recipe. Thank you Annabel. Check out all that fruit, would you? Yummmm. I think Mum might undercook it slightly to make it even more “fudgey”. Served with tea, I am telling you, it can right a whole lot of wrongs.

It certainly takes the edge off sleep deprivation, which is saying something. Isn’t that always the way with Mum’s cooking? Cooking so familiar and comforting it can make the world seem brighter and burdens feel lighter. Of course it’s not just the cooking, but the whole coming home experience. Mum has put fresh sheets on the beds, hung mobiles and bunting for my girls, cleared out wardrobes, made space and cleaned. There’s love in the details. Dad has bought boutique NZ beer to share with me in the evenings, Mum has pegged up an advent calendar, the tree is assembled but not dressed, so we can hang decorations with B1. Little things, that all say “We’re so happy you’re home”. Feeling loved – now that is the true therapy.

Without getting too sentimental (i.e. you know I am going to) that’s what Christmas is about, isn’t it? Love? The heart of the matter which can get a bit buried in travel and stress and hosting and buying and rushing. It’s lovely to be back in New Zealand, watching my girls being spoilt with the same traditions I had as a kid. It mean, it might just be chocolates behind cardboard doors, or silver baubles on hooks, but I can see in their faces that they feel the love in it all.

It makes me happy. Happy to be home, sleep deprivation, challenges and all. With family. And cake. With tea.