With the chickens on the hunt for some tasty food among the fallen leaves in the grounds of the village hall, Johnnie Hitch has left his rake and has disappeared inside to enjoy a warm mug of tea after a busy morning of gardening.
Sugar and Spice? Let's Stir It Up Nice!
"Never spare the parson's wine nor the baker's pudding." ~ Benjamin Franklin
The last Sunday before Advent is known as 'Stir Up Sunday' as it is the traditional day for making a really delicious Christmas pudding and here at St M's and as the scent of cinnamon and spice wafts through the air of this cold November morning; there's a flurry of activity inside the parish hall along with the sound of a busy kettle and clashing pudding pans.
And as Edie potters about inside the kitchen with her bowls of sugar, dried fruit and spices along with a large jug of whiskey from Johnnie's collection, Millie arrives dressed for the cold in her cheerful scarf and holding Mark's football...
But with Mark nowhere to be seen and as 'Little' and 'Snowy' have no interest in playing football with her, Millie becomes curious about the delicious smell wafting through the open door and decides to take a peek inside.
And just as Edie is about to add another spoonful of fresh breadcrumbs to her Christmas pudding mixture, she nearly jumps out of her skin when the door suddenly flies open; "Oh wow! It smells even more yummy in here!" shouts Millie as she potters inside.
"Oh my goodness me Millie! What a fright you've just given me!" Edie says with a chuckle of relief.
"Hello Mrs Edie! I didn't mean to scare you but I've come inside to find out what's going on as it smells totally yummy outside. Are you making something special to eat?"
"Indeed I am Millie! I'm making a Christmas pudding!"
"But Mrs Edie, Christmas is AGES away AND I haven't even started to eat any of the chocolates in my Advent calendar yet..."
"Oh bless you Millie and yes, Christmas is some weeks away but as today is 'Stir Up Sunday', its the best day for making my pudding as all of the lovely flavours will have lots of time to mix together in time for Christmas Day."
"But why do you call it 'Stir Up Sunday' Mrs Edie?"
"Well Millie, today has been called 'Stir Up Sunday' for many years now as everyone usually helps to 'stir up' the pudding mixture.
Now little Millie, how would YOU like to take a turn to 'stir up'?"
"Ooo! Yes please Mrs Edie!"
"In that case Millie, I'd better find you an apron to wear and we should put your lovely scarf somewhere WELL away from this table as flour and sugar have a habit of going EVERYWHERE and I don't want you to get into trouble with your lovely Mummie."
Perched upon a chair and proudly wearing a festive red apron, Millie begins to 'stir up' the pudding mixture under Edie's watchful eye.
"Millie, why not stir the spoon from your right which is east and then to the left which is west as it will remind us of the journey the Three Wise Men took to see the baby Jesus in Bethlehem" says Edie "And don't forget to make a wish!"
He is also tucking into a delicious mince pie which his wife Edie had baked for him that very morning...
The Ministry, Musings and Mishaps from St M's
Parish in the Town of Merryworth...
As Johnnie enjoys the welcome rest after all that raking and sweeping up, Edie is working hard adding flour and eggs into her bowl of deliciously smelling cake mixture and before giving it a really good stir, she sprinkles spoonfuls of spice.
"Well, Millie as that spoonful of cinnamon was my thirteenth ingredient and you have done such a wonderful job at 'stirring up', I think our pudding mixture is now ready for a rest before I get it ready for steaming."
"Thank you Mrs Edie but why did you make your Christmas pudding with thirteen different food things?"
As Edie begins to clear away the bowls of sugar and spice, she explains to Millie that the tradition of making a Christmas pudding using thirteen ingredients is said to represent Christ and his twelve disciples but when she moves the table away; she discovers that Millie seems quite delighted to have been coated in some of those thirteen ingredients too!
"Oh my goodness me Millie! Look at you! We'd better clean you up before we both get a telling off from your lovely Mummie!"
"Mrs Edie, don't forget to make your wish too! You can use this spoon if you like."
"Bless you Millie and thank you for helping me today. Now why don't you make one wish come true for those chickens outside and give them some of my fresh breadcrumbs that I have left?
And Millie, don't forget to open the window of your Advent calendar NEXT Sunday won't you!"
With tea time soon over and as Johnnie goes in search of his garden rake to finish clearing away the fallen leaves outside and with the 'Candy Cane Cake' now baking in a warm oven, Edie sets about with making the St M's Christmas Pudding.
Using a special recipe which her family have used for many years, Edie makes her Christmas pudding with lots of care and knowing that her loved ones will love eating this pudding on Christmas Day makes Stir Up Sunday one of her happiest days as she bustles about gathering her assortment of ingredients together.
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As Edie returns with a bowl of ground cinnamon, Millie is now happily 'stirring up' the pudding mixture in ALL kinds of different ways and despite the scattered breadcrumbs and sugar on the table and floor; Edie encourages Millie to 'stir in' the spoonful of cinnamon she has just added.
"More cooking stuff?" asks Millie as she continues to 'stir way'. "I don't think there's any room left to add anything more Mrs Edie."
But as she has been so busy chattering to Johnnie about the delicious jars of mince meat she's made and which will be soon going for sale in the Mallow & Teasel Gift Shop and how excited she is to be baking her 'Candy Cane Cake' - she's forgotten how many spoonfuls of spice she needs to add!
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