Friday, 20 January 2012

Christmas – past and present

My mother’s family was quite large and for several years her Step Mother always had everyone around for Christmas day and often Boxing Day at her house. Considering this meant feeding and seating up to twenty one people from adults to quite young children in a fairly small cottage, she did amazingly well. She did have two of my maiden aunts living with her after my Grandfather died, so she did not do it all alone.
On Christmas day, after lunch, all the presents were given out in age order, usually starting at the youngest and because there were so many people, this often took up most of the afternoon. I was second youngest and my cousin Alan was only a few months older than me, so this meant that quite early on we could both disappear with our new toys and not become a nuisance by being restive and impatient as only small boys can be when dying to play with their new toys.
On Boxing Day, the children would have another round of small gifts, like a chocolate Santa or a plastic toy, usually something along the lines of a cracker gift. For several years these were taken from the Christmas tree, but later, they came from a giant cracker and later still from a hollow snowman. The cracker and snowmen were made for the occasion by someone in the family and filled with these small gifts. These little extras were always received with excitement, despite being trivia, because of the anticipation, particularly with the cracker or snowman, because you could not see what was coming and this increased the anticipation.
A few years ago, now there are grandchildren around, I decided to re-introduce this idea into our present family and we have had a giant cracker for two years running. 

One of the children was initially a little alarmed the first time the cracker appeared, because they thought it would have a correspondingly large bang, but once reassured it had no bang at all, they became quite keen on the idea.
This last Christmas, I made a change and introduced a Snowman.
Ready to be packed with the goodies
 Unlike the crackers, he is sturdy enough to be used for more than one year, since he does not have to be pulled, so he will be back again at the end of this year for Christmas 2012 and hopefully again the following Christmas.  He is just card, rolled into two cylinders with cottonwool glued on to make the snow.  The top of the smaller cylinder forms his hat.
Christmas with the family has now become a strong tradition and The Step Daughter and her husband make a huge effort to provide a wonderful Christmas for us all.
Christmas day, only seven for lunch this year
This involves a lot of preparation and hotel like accommodation chores, making sure there are enough beds, feeding everyone and so on.  This is because they live in a three story Victorian terraced house which has enough rooms to house us all without having to pitch tents in the back garden or rent out a hotel.

There were two cakes this year which were both works of art (decorated by The Granddaughter) and Christmas lunch was massive, with both goose and turkey
Unfortunately only one got photographed before it was eaten

Someone in our family got a camera this Christmas
It is a funny feature of wardrobes that if you leave any clothes in them for any length of time they tend to shrink, particularly those left in the wardeobe over the Christmas period.  It is a well know fact that this has nothing to do with the amount of food served up at this time of year as some people will try to tell you.
So it is all over now, colds and coughs are on the run and I feel up to doing another blog, be it a little late. Still only 330 something days to go and off we go again. 


  1. I love these traditions! Your Christmas sounds wonderful (and a feat of organising!) I especially love the giant snowman. What a wonderful idea. And yes - those pesky clothes shrink!

  2. Snafu, your Christmas looks, Christmassy! I guess I am thinking old-fashioned Christmassy - just the way I like them. I think your huge cracker and snowman are a jolly good idea, and I bet it was so exciting for the children, even if they ARE used to much bigger and better gifts - just the excitement of the unknown is so much fun! I love the Christmas cake and would love to know how to make the 'snow' icing - so very realistic. My clothes have shrunk a lot since Christmas - I am going to write to the manufacturers; you just don't get what you pay for, these days :}

    Glad you had a lovely time, and glad you are feeling better.

  3. Snafu, what a lovely post. I'm so pleased that you had such a lovely Christmas. x