The very first thing that happened on Christmas morning, before anything else was my mum had to make Pyrex bowl full of stuffing and stuff the turkey. Once this was done we could have cups of tea and breakfast and most importantly PRESENTS!
The other regular drama was that she always bought a turkey that was far too big, so big in fact that she couldn’t lift it and any such manoeuvres had to be done by my dad after much bantering.
Once all this was over, the rest of the day could continue calmly. I remember all the different food that we only had at Christmas, whereas now everything seems to be available all year round. Once satsumas where in the shops, I knew Christmas wasn’t far away.
‘Eat me’ dates appeared and all sorts of nuts that couldn’t be cracked with our antique nut crackers. My mum always complained that my Granddad ate them all in one sitting and she never saw any of them
We had crystallised orange and lemon slices in a circular box and French fancies. It was years later that I realised you could buy theses at any time but I guess they were more expensive than other cakes. The Christmas pudding steamed for hours on the stove then had to be adorned with a sprig of holly from the garden and set fire to with a dram of whiskey. This was served with sterilised cream which had to be shaken for about 3 hours before you were allowed to open the tin. The final ritual before lunch was the sharpening of the carving knife which was done with much gusto and probably was not repeated until the next Christmas
As for the presents, I rarely had any surprises as I always searched the house in the preceding weeks on the hunt for goodies. I have even been known to unwrap the end of a present under the tree and then stick in back again. As an adult I’m a bit better now, but not much!
Decorations included chocolate tree decoration that very rarely lasted until Christmas day, paper chains and lanterns and delicate glass baubles that had to be carefully packed away in egg boxes each year
Extra alcohol was bought in case friends called in but as my parents were not big drinkers, bottles often lasted from one year to the next especially port and advocaat.
My Nan always had a pear shaped tin of Princes ham in her pantry and as tins had no sell by dates on then I dread to think how long she had it for.
Presents over the years included the usual favourites of bikes, dolls prams and cots, and gender stereotyping was the norm. Smaller presents were always left in my bedroom in a flannelette pillow case by a shadowy figure….. And the mince pie and sherry left for Santa were always gone in the morning. Funny that………
In recent years and after much grumbling I have cooked Christmas dinner for the family. I always thought there was some great mystery to it and it was a job only a mother could do well. I seem to have pulled it off though and in fact quite enjoy it. Who knew?