I always decorate it with marzipan and icing, and last year I eventually found the marzipan. This year, I spotted almond paste in early November and, as I bought a couple of packets, felt slightly smug with being so prepared. Apparently in the UK, almond paste and marzipan are virtually the same thing. Out here however, and they seem to be pretty different. Almond paste contains roughly equal amount ground almonds to sugar, whereas marzipan can contain up to seventy-five percent sugar. So this is no bad thing, and it still tastes good (better in fact), but not truly marzipan.
Still not taken by the icing sugar, and it seemingly either that or frosting, it has been decorated with a layer of dried fruits and toasted nuts, with a brandy and apricot glaze to make it shine. What with the glaze and the not-stingy feeding of the cake, I am not too worried about the overall taste, as by a couple of mouthfuls and we will be too tipsy to care how it tastes!
The cards have been written, ready to post when we land and hopefully still arrive at their destinations before Christmas Day (however, knowing us, they will lie at the bottom of the suitcase and be discovered when we arrive back in Montreal...)
As we fly over the Atlantic, and then drive around the North West of England catching up with family and friends in a somewhat jam packed schedule, we will be sparing a thought for Father Christmas/Santa, and all the thousands of miles he has to cover in just the one night.
In 1955 a newspaper advert for children to phone Santa gave the wrong number, meaning the children were instead put through to the Continental Air Defense Command (NORAD's predecessor). Apparently the Colonel told his staff to answer the calls and update the children on Santa's position in the world, and the tradition has carried on from there, the calls being taken by thousands of volunteers.