Halloween has passed, the time for witches and evil, so I've been thinking of what to get my Mother for Christmas. My Mother is a difficult person to buy for, although possibly not for the reasons one would imagine. At every conceivable present-giving occasion (and trust me, the woman has very much stretched the limits of appropriateness - often asking for gifts at other people's baptisms and so on), my Mother likes to issue her offspring with a verbal and written list of her desires.
It is, as I'm sure you will already be working out, an entirely inappropriate adult continuation of the letter to Santa, more commonly written by the under 10s. I have, bravely, ignored the present list ever since the 'Easter' present fiasco of 2010: she asked for a waffle maker, I sent my little sister to pick it up, and she came home with a wildly expensive industrial-sized waffle maker, which was too heavy to lift single-handedly, hoisted onto the kitchen counter that morning for its one moment in the sun, made moderately good waffles, and then was unceremoniously (though with a great deal of effort) hidden in the cellar.
While going 'off the grid' has meant I am saved from stinking failures like the waffle maker, disaster is never far away. This year, I have decided to focus my efforts on things it would be simply impossible for my Mother to not like. 'What does Mum like?' I asked my little sister. 'Booze,' My little sister replied sagely. 'Expensive booze and cashmere.'
Here, in short, are the two things my (and yours, I'm almost certain) Mother will be certain to love this Christmas:
1. Pure cashmere. http://www.purecollection.com/default.aspx
This, and I speak as someone who has spent most of her adult life raiding my Mother's extensive, and expensive cashmere collection, is, quite simply, the best cashmere you can buy. It is soft, simply and elegantly cut, and reasonably priced. As long as it is washed properly (and my Mother, hilariously, has bought something called 'cashmere shampoo'), and kept away from the voracious appetites of moths, a Pure cashmere item will last you forever. It is, pretty much, a present with the precisely opposite staying power to an industrial waffle-maker.
2. The WSET 12 wines of Christmas event
My Mother, like most of the elderly, has quite enough stuff. As a good daughter, I am trying very hard to help her with this terrible predicament (please see cashmere-stealing above), and so this year will be offering her an 'experience'. This is great, as I have already got the card inscription sorted- 'Dear Mum. You are old. It is important that you try very hard to cram as many new experiences into your few remaining years as possible. As your most thoughtful child, here is your Christmas gift.'
The WSET (Wine and Spirit Education Trust) are putting on a 12 wines of Christmas fine and food matching event on the 27th November. This is a sampling event, where guests can taste delicious typical Christmas foods, such as smoked salmon canapes or turkey, along with 12 WSET tutor-selected wines. There are three obvious and immediate benefits to gifting this occasion to my Mother:
1. It is in November. I will have raised the bar so high that my siblings will never be able to compete on Christmas Day.
2. I plan (although always open to better offers) on spending Christmas Day with my family. This tasting event will ensure that I am served the highest quality booze.
3. At every new bottle opened during Christmas lunch, I will loudly remind my siblings that it is only thanks to me that we are enjoying such excellent wine and food pairings.
Date: Tuesday 27th November
Location: Wine & Spirit Education Trust, International Wine & Spirit
Centre, 39-45 Bermondsey Street, London SE1 3XF
Price £30 per head