Nine of us made 52 kg of soap today, nine times my recipe at Making Soap in Time for Christmas. It has become an early October ritual – a nice social day at the community centre, making a year’s supply of luxury soap for home and enough to give away as Christmas presents. We bring a plate and eat lunch together, take it in turns to stir, take home a bucket of soap at trace stage, add our own herbs and essential oils and mould up. Then there is a flurry of texts and messages – “Mine is ready to mould up”, “Mine too. Let me know when you cut yours up”, “I just put the sandalwood in and it turned a lovely orange colour”, “How did your lemon myrtle leaves go?”
The soap itself is one thing – a lovely way to neatly sidestep the mad commercialism of Christmas without grinching. But the way that projects like this create community is even more valuable to me. The Men’s Shed organisation is based around the idea that men talk shoulder to shoulder – solve problems and share insight and support while working together – but maybe that is true of people of both genders. I know I look forward to soap making every year as much for the day as the soap.