Christmas is a family time, if you’re lucky enough to have family. Maybe I should qualify that, if you’re lucky enough to have family you want to be with. I do, well, most of the time I do. Christmas was all planned but apart from having a freezer full of party food and the Turkey ordered, I had done nothing and I do mean NOTHING towards it!
School finished Friday and on Saturday I had over 20 people coming for what had started as a Birthday lunch for 6 for Mum (79). Somehow it snowballed. It became the ideal opportunity for family that rarely see each other to meet up.
Quick interruption in writing there, I heard the refuse collectors. Didn’t know they were coming today and neither did Mike, who has gone to Shropshire to work early this morning. Must have looked a picture as I ran out in my slightly grubby dressing gown, unwashed hair and panda eyes and raced up the drive with my black wheelie bin!!! Reminded me of Lonnie Donnegan’s song, ‘My Old Man’s a Dustman’....”Am I too late?” “ Naah! Jump up on the cart” Oy!
So, Friday afternoon and evening, I cooked up a storm. Went to bed and continued Saturday morning, in-between ins and outs of the oven I sorted out the presents for people we weren’t seeing again on Christmas Day. (Little did I know at that time, it would be everybody)
Saturday 12.30, people started arriving. I was still popping things in and out of the oven, which I had planned to be doing. I didn’t see that as a problem. WHY can I never remember that my friends and family all want to stand in the kitchen at parties? Soon it was all done and we had a wonderful time, although I had to go and sit down later, as I was exhausted.
It was so good that we managed to have all four children together, in the house and each of their partners. As two of the family are in the Royal Navy, this was a rare event indeed.
Their two grandmas were there plus our new generation of 3 grandchildren. Then we had Mike’s nephew (not seen for years) even his ex partner and their son, who had strangely turned into a tall ,17 year old, with his Dad’s penchant for long, wavy, windswept hair. (In his mid 40’s his Dad has only just left that look behind, obviously passed it onto his son).
My sister and her daughter were there but sadly Mike’s sister couldn’t make it as her husband is recovering from an operation.
Then of course there was the great nephew’s girlfriend. A very pretty girl, with pink hair and facial ornaments, who was festively named, Holly.
Now we’d only just got used to the idea that this tall, tousled, young man was our great nephew, we were in for another surprise. He and Holly then proceeded to give the two elder granddaughters more sex education than they’ve had at school! Not for them the allure of food, drink and good company in the kitchen and dining room. No they entwined themselves on the sofa and became oblivious to the family around them. Oh to be young again!!!
Family Christmases have always been important to me and until I was 13, they were spent at my Grandma’s house, which was able to contain her five children and families quite comfortably.
This was the house where I lived when I was born and until I was two. After that I spent Wednesday afternoons every week there. The little private school my sister and I went to only did a four and a half day week; it was a throw back to when the school used to be open on a Saturday morning. Then they dropped the Saturday morning but never restarted the Wednesday afternoon. (Hurrah!) I also went there every Friday evening and stayed until Saturday afternoon, sometimes Sunday, which is when I would go to Chapel with Grandma.I have such happy memories of those times and Christmas, excuse the pun, really was the icing on the cake.
Above is Grandma enjoying her last Christmas in her beloved home. She was born in 1885, what changes she saw. This how she looked at 18.
I was heartbroken when the house was sold in 1966and Grandma and my adored Aunty Dorothy moved into a bungalow some miles away.
Auntie Dorothy as a little girl.
We continued the family get together at the bungalow for a few years but only going over in the evening, after lunching at home, for traditional buffet food and some very funny party games .But it was never the same. My one clear memory of that time was one of the quieter games where we were all sat down and played, ‘I Love My Love’, you start with the first letter of the alphabet, so for example ‘I love my love because she is ‘A’ttractive’. This was in the late sixties and my cousin, Stephen, who is the same age as me , had everyone on the floor with a combination of shock and laughter, depending on your age, when given the letter C, he came out with ‘I love my love because she is Crap!’ Ah! Innocent days.
Grandma had died in early 1968, when I was fourteen. They say teenage years are difficult; well it doesn’t help when the foundation stones of your life are removed.
I’ve always been striving to bring back the feelings of those wonderful family Christmases. It’s not so easy when you don’t have a huge house and we don’t have such big families. Grandma had five children and nine grandchildren and several great grandchildren before she died. But Mum’s birthday lunch had some of the feel of those long ago, happy times.
The next day I spoke to Mike’s daughter, who said what a lovely time they’d all had and we both realised that we felt we’d already had Christmas and that the actual day was now just going to be presents and a Roast Dinner.
How prophetic were those words.
Christmas day I was expecting, Mum and Step-Dad, Catherine, Flo & Isabella and my sister and her partner. So nine in all. On Sunday afternoon and Christmas Eve, I went and bought all my presents, collected the Turkey which this year was to be a very, large, boned and rolled Turkey breast. Over ten pounds in weight. Mum was cooking a Pork Loin and bringing that over. Isn’t it funny how with hindsight things can turn out for the best?
Late afternoon on Christmas Eve we visited my daughter Catherine and went to the Opening of the Crib service at her village church. This was very nice and also very sensible, as it was aimed at small children and the lady Vicar made it only half an hour long. Catherine had justlet her cats out, only their second time since bringing them over from Germany.
We came back from church and had some cold chicken and salad and then went home to wrap presents.
I got to bed just before Santa started his rounds, feeling that a pickled onion was causing me some indigestion.
At 3am I was woken by a feeling that was not Santa putting a stocking at the end of my bed. I wasn’t sure quite what was wrong but I didn’t like it. Suddenly the bathroom seemed like a very good idea and I got there just in time to throw up all over the toilet.
Cleaning the bathroom, naked, when not well was not how I’d planned to start Christmas Day. I went back to bed. Mike had slept through all this, and I felt a bit better and went back to sleep. Only to be woken at 5am for a repeat performance, only this time much, much worse.
So, in our house, Christmas was cancelled.
At 8 am, after some frantic phone calls, Mike had to rush over to Mum’s with the food and Christmas was transferred to hers. This is where the meat situation was good. Had it been a whole Turkey she would never have coped with it but we were able to cut the breast in two and sent the larger piece over to Mum and Mum did the same with the Pork, and Mike brought some of that back with him. So we had plenty to cook for when I felt like eating.
I spent the morning in bed, in between bathroom runs (the bug had gone the other way now!) and then got up when Mike returned from work. He cooked our Christmas dinner which we deferred until 9pm, in the hope I would be able to eat something and keep it down, which I did. And very good it was too. I think I may be passing my apron to him next year.
Catherine phoned to say Milly, one of her cats had not returned from the night before and sad to say,still hasn’t.
Mike’s daughter rang to say her husband’s Grandma had passed away at lunchtime on Christmas Day.
Yesterday, on Boxing Day, I signed on to the Net to find that Kim (I Shaved My Legs for This) had lost her brave battle against cancer. How can you miss someone you’ve never met? But that girl put everything in her Journal and the one thing you could not doubt, she was beautiful, both inside and out and I know her family are devastated at their loss. Kim touched so many people’s lives.
Bloody Hell! This is cheery, isn’t it? It’s funny but when I start writing, I never know where I will end up but all in all, this had not been one of my best Christmases.
On a lighter note, there were some fantastic presents. I had far too many to mention them all and was spoilt rotten but I must say, I had a total surprise from Mike, an electronic piano keyboard, with all the other backing instruments, if I want them. It’s a Yamaha; I always thought they were Motor Bikes?
Mike’s main present from me was a jacket, dark brown, it says its leather but it’s like a waxed pigskin, with silk quilted lining and also part fleece lined. Very 'Country Gentleman' and will be ideal for walking a dog, if we decided to get one this year. (Hint, hint) I knew he wanted a new one and he seems very pleased with it, he also wanted slippers, which I got him too. Plus books, a CD and some chocolates.
A friend sent me an Ecard and I just have to share this with you, it’s so funny. She pinched the photos of us from my last entry. My timing is awful and I had never realised Mike was so camp! The kids loved it.
Elf Dancing (It may take a few seconds to load) ****This link doesn't now work.****
Hoping for a Happy New Year for my family and I wish the same to all of you reading this and all the people you love and care about.