I have nothing but very fond memories of all my childhood Christmases. For me, it was a truly magical time of the year made so special by simple things.The build up to the festivities was extra special for me. Weeks before we would do the pickling. Peeling a large bag of small onions wasn’t the greatest of jobs but it meant that Christmas was coming and that was exciting to me. Making the brine and the smell of the vinegar over the endless jars of pickled onions and cabbage still evokes strong memories of Christmases from my past.
Looking back, my mother was always very frugal but I guess she had to be with so many mouths to feed. At the beginning of December she would start making the cake and then the puddings had to be steamed. My mum was an excellent cake decorator. We always had a beautiful properly royal iced Christmas cake. She also made several wedding cakes, a very talented lady! I must admit that I wasn’t a fan of the old fashioned steamed puddings growing up, and always found them quite a disappointing dessert at the end of Christmas feast. But as I’ve grown older I’ve become quite fond of them. My mum is a Yorkshire gal, and up north they eat slices of rich fruit cake with a big slice of cheese on the top. As a child I thought this was normal and only later realised that most Welsh families were horrified by the idea. It’s something that’s stuck with me and I still like cheese with my Christmas cake!
Part of my Christmas recollections also includes making decorations. We would often have family nights gathered together painting our version of Disney characters to put on the wall adorned with some tinsel for added festive cheer. I still have a few of the pictures that remain stored away. The paper is browning and slightly curled around the edges but it takes me right back. And it is only as I’ve become a parent myself that I appreciate the intricacies of organising Christmas Eve. With all those sacks to be filled it was no wonder that a few mistakes were made. I remember one particular Christmas morning unwrapping the game Mouse Trap only to have it promptly removed as my mother exclaimed ‘Silly Santa’s made a mistake, that belongs to Mark’ my brother... ahhh!
Just like many other families, our Christmas Day involved gift opening, playing with toys, and the big Christmas dinner. Which was then followed by the Queen's speech and probably a little nap for my parents. I couldn’t understand how anybody could sleep in the day at that time, but now I’m firmly converted and a great believer in 40 winks. Christmas afternoon was always The Wizard of Oz followed by an evening buffet of all the cold meats and pickles!
Going to bed on Christmas Day was always sad. The long-awaited day was over, all that build up, all the anticipation, it was just such a shame that it was all over. Although Boxing Day was always a mini repeat just without all the presents. I think one of the things I loved most about those two days of the year was that everything and everybody stopped. My Dad wasn’t in work , the kids were all at home and even my mother, who never sat still for a moment, took time to watch films or play games. Something I never remember her doing at any other time of the year. And that’s what I loved. Time stopped. Just for two days!
Merry Christmas to you dear readers.