What is your favourite Christmas Memory?
I now feel like I would be the ghost of the Christmas past. I have exprienced many a good Christmas. At the age of 70 you could almost lose count.
I remember the Chrismas days in England, when I would wake in the morning to find a pillow case (a stocking would have been too small) and it would be full of wrapped gifts from mum and dad. That was the beginning of the celebrations. Mum would cook turkey in the morning. She was a firm believer in cooking meat long enough, meaning that the oven would be occupied with the bird for at least 2-3 hours. There would be sage and onion stuffing (brand Paxo, but is was OK), baked potatoes and brussel sprouts (which I did not like as a kid) and after dinner during the afternoon we would make our way to the relations. We would all meet at my mum’s sister’s house as she had most bedrooms. Bedroom? yes, I will be coming to that.
Trains and busses stopped at 4.00 p.m.so we had a half hour walk from the station to the house. When we arrived we were ready, as anything could happen. There was high tea prepared by the women of the family. We kids would sit in front of the TV, me and my cousins, and after tea the festivities began. We “picked the tree” meaning that there was a Chrismas tree surrounded by presents for us kids and everyone got what they wanted. By some magical method the aunts and uncles had bought us the right thing, although I do remember one Christmas when the message got muddled, and my cousin was given 4 boxes of Mr. Potato Man or Mr. Potato Head as it is now called I believe. Do not forget this was in the fifties.
During the evening aunts and uncles absorbed more alcohol, we kids had our own party in another room, but we joined the others later. It was then that everyone had their party act. Uncle Harry and Uncle Arthur singing their impersonation of Flanagan and Allen with “Underneath the Arches”
and Aunt Lil doing quite a good imitation of Sophie Tucker singing My yiddische momma.
Everyone joined in with “Knees Up Muvver Brown”. Do not forget we were all London cockneys and had our own way of celebrating. Perhaps you must remember that these aunts and uncles grew up in the 1920’s and earlier.
My dad was the last to pass away last year, so that is what I meant by being the ghost of the Chrismas Past. It is me and my cousins that can remember these Christmas celebrations. And the bed situation? No-one had a car and the Christmas celebrations continued until the early morning hours, so it was an emergency situation. The men mainly slept on the floor or the armchairs in the living room and we kids moved in with our aunts in the beds and our aunts were not exaclt light weight or slim.
Oh and I am forgetting grandad, who was then approaching 80 years old. He had the place of honour in the corner and enjoyed being there. He was enshrouded in a cloud of cigarette smoke, he always rolled his own and now and again had to visit the toilet. Everyone made a corridor and he was accompanied by two uncles until he reached that certain place. When he was finished, he made the return journey, again being supported by two uncles. At least that is how I have it in my memory.
They were my first Christmas celebrations and probably those that remain embedded in my memory today.
They just do not do it now like they used to.