Christmas Past

I didn’t always dislike Christmas.

As a child, I would ask to go to bed early on the 24th, so I could wake up and get all my presents when it was still dark. I am an only child, and though not spoiled, I was never short of a pile of presents from my mum and dad, as well as my extended family of uncles and aunts.

By the time my parents were awake, I had already read my Christmas Annuals books, and all of my toys and other gifts would have been opened and examined. Like most kids then, I dreaded receiving ‘sensible presents’, like clothing. But I will never complain about my childhood Christmases, as I can still remember the thrill of them. And I appreciated every gift, however small.

Then it was off to my maternal grandmother’s house, for a massive family Christmas lunch at 2 pm. Everyone would be there, and trestles would have been set up for a huge table top to rest on. Then every chair in the house, mismatched or not, would be crowded around so that everyone had a seat at the table. Before that happened, all the men would set off for the lunchtime drinking session in the nearby pub, while the women and older girls took on the mammoth task of preparing all the vegetables, and laying the table.

And all of this cooked in a single small gas oven, with a three-ring hob above.

The men would return just in time to sit and eat, still merry from too much beer and whisky. Then in the afternoon, they slept off the booze, while the exhausted women washed up and cleared away, ready to serve up the ‘Christmas Tea’. Assorted shellfish, bread and butter, lots of cakes, and anything sweet.

The evening would see a huge Christmas party. Crates of beer lined up in my grandmother’s parlour, the ‘good rug’ rolled up and stored away, and my aunt Edie exercising her skill on the piano as my dad and my uncle sang popular songs of the day, as well as wartime melodies. Everyone over the age of sixteen smoked, so the blue haze in the room would sting my young eyes as I sat enjoying the seasonal show.

When it got too late for me, I would sneak into my grandmother’s bedroom, and creep under the pile of coats laid on her bed. They included ancient furs that smelled of mothballs, and huge wool overcoats that had the aroma of tobacco.

I never really remembered my dad lifting me up to take me out to the car.

But I always woke up in my own bed on Boxing Day.

77 thoughts on “Christmas Past

      1. Did you know that there are some pagan roots in Christmas? As there are some of the other celebrations that Christians do as well.
        It says in Deuteronomy 12 that God said not to worship Him the way the other nations worship their gods. Have you considered this verse? If God doesn’t want us – His people – to be worshiping Him the way that other people worship their gods, and if Christmas is pagan in practice and root, then why do most Christians today worship Him in that way?

        Liked by 1 person

                    1. I don’t want to debate religion or religious issues on my blog, it’s not the platform for that. I respect the right of people to believe in their religion, and expect them to respect my right to believe it is all nonsense.
                      Best wishes, Pete.

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  1. “Christmas will always be as long as we stand heart to heart and hand in hand.” – Quote by Dr. Seuss

    Have a wonderful Christmas and joyous days ahead with warm laughter. Take care.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. aww yes, much similar to my christmas even though you have a mum and mine is a mom, I hated clothes for christmas, yet today I am grateful I have never had to go through the trouble of buying socks or even boxer shorts in my entire life. My stocking seemed stuffed with them every single year. About smoking.. My cousins would throw out the snipes the butt of the cigarette i would run and grab them off the ground at grandmas house as they would mostly be still lit.. puff that last puff out of them.. It is probably their fault i am still a smoker today 30 something years later. Merry Christmas from Texas Y’all!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Loved this! I just wrote about how I hate Christmas! Glad to know I’m not alone in having even a small dislike towards the holiday. Like yourself I used to be a fan of the holiday and loved the day back when I was younger

    Liked by 4 people

    1. I talked to my mum about it when she was much older, and she said she really enjoyed it. I suppose they accepted the way things were, at least until the late 1960s.
      Best wishes, Pete.

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  4. Lovely, but not for the women it seems! Yes, I remember great Christmas parties as a child with all the older generation singing and dancing into the small hours. The younger generation just want to look at their phones. It’s not the same somehow…

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Electronic entertainment killed all that. I have seen numerous examples of people crowded around video games, or staring at new laptops ot tablets without making any conversation at all.
      As for the ‘old days’, the women were certainly put-upon, though I never remember them complaining much. Perhaps they only did that amongst themselves?
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. It was expected of them I think, and so they bore their lot with fortitude. Times have changed. Sam always washes up after any meal, and helps around the house with any household job. My dad used to help too, but my grandfathers would have considered domestic duties ‘women’s work’.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. As I read this, Pete, I thought surely there had to be a part two because your comments about the holiday have definitely shifted. I so loved reading this, though. This is what I love most about blogs – getting the insight into the lives of other people’s lives and how we are both similar and also different. And what exactly is Boxing Day? I am familiar with the term and I know when it is but I never knew ‘what’ it was.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Boxing Day is a very old name given to the 26th. It comes from a time when most people still worked on Christmas Day, (as evidenced in Dickens’ A Christmas Carol) but many people, including house servants, would be allowed to have the next day off to visit their families. It is still a public holiday in England, and if it falls on a weekend, we get the following Monday off instead. Here’s an ‘official’ explanation.

      ‘The name comes from a time when the rich used to box up gifts to give to the poor. Boxing Day was traditionally a day off for servants, and the day when they received a special Christmas box from their masters. The servants would also go home on Boxing Day to give Christmas boxes to their families.’

      Best wishes, Pete.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. (1) Jed Clampett was fond of Texas tea, but he never drank it.
    (2) Christmas Annuities are better than Christmas Annuals.
    (3) When all the men in the pub gathered at three round tables in order to drink sociably, they formed a three-ring hobnob.
    (4 And then one Christmas, grandma accidentally got rolled up in the ‘good rug’—stored away until Boxing Day, at which time the drunk revelers who had rolled her up got their ears boxed by grandma!
    (5) My friend Rudolph claims that the menfolk at grandma’s house ended up with red noses after all that drinking.
    (6) My friend Barbara claims that Santa Claus is married to Santa Monica, and that Santa Cruz is married to Santa Clarita.
    (7) My friend Mary Jane claims that everyone over the age of sixteen smoked. When I asked her if they were smoking cigarettes, she said, “Close, but no cigar!”

    Liked by 4 people

  7. Great memories Pete. I do miss the colder Christmas by the fire. Having a BBQ just doesn’t capture the day for me We didn’t have a large family so the day was just the 3 of us (Mum, Dad and a very spoilt little boy)

    Liked by 3 people

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