It had been my intention to compose a blog story specifically for Christmas Day, I had an idea in the back of my mind and over the past week or so have jotted down a few notes. It was to be a tale of simpler times when happiness was an addition to your Dinky Toy collection and the annual Plasticine in the stocking, not forgetting the tangerine in the toe, but I think I have bored you enough with that sort of thing over the last week on flickr where I have presented you with a miscellany of Christmas memories and images.
What we see before us in this 1967 photograph of our family is the annual ritual, which continues today, of the Christmas Day supper, here consisting of cold turkey and bread and butter. In the background is my father who has cut up the meat and filled everyone’s plate, well almost everyone, but we’ll return to that later. To the extreme left is my sister and Mum sitting next to her. On the other side of the table (from the right) is “down-to” Gran, then “up-to” Gran sitting next to my grandfather. The grandparents were very formal with one another, Mrs and Mrs Simmonds and Mrs Stokes was how they addressed one another. We differentiated between our grandmothers with the simple prefix of up-to and down-to because, well, it’s complicated, in our previous house we used to go “Up” to visit one grandmother and “Down” to visit the other, the only problem with this was we first had to go up before we could go down, it confused our cousins greatly with our ups and downs. With Grampy we didn’t have such a problem, he was just Grampy, our other grandfather had died when we were very young so have no real recollection of him at all!
Christmas Day in our household was the culmination of weeks of very hard work. My father had a shop in town and during the previous month or so, in the run-up to the big day, he would be very busy. After work every day throughout December, the whole family would return to the shop in the evening for a few hours where we would tidy up and restock for the following day’s onslaught. The normal staff of three would be supplemented by the Christmas staff, I think fourteen was the most we ever had, and we’d all be running flat out to cope with the rush. From an early age we were encouraged to help if we could and I think I was serving customers when I was about thirteen. By the time Christmas Day came round we were all exhausted!
In the evening it was traditional for our “up-to” grandparents to join the rest of us for supper, “down-to”, who lived a few houses away would have been with us for the whole of the day anyway. Usually Dora, my grandfather’s sister, would have been present as well, she lived with them “just for a few weeks until I find somewhere” which lasted for 25 years!
Some of the artefacts we see before us are also worthy of a mention, the table is one of two that my sister and I now have, but as they are almost identical I can’t tell you which is which, one of us has this one. The best china is out, only on very special occasions did this come out and I have to confess, as the current custodian, I’m afraid of it, hand painted, each item different!
Finally, in the foreground, we must mention my brother; he looks miserable because he was! You will notice he has no supper in front of him, not because he’s already eaten it, but because he really was not well. Back in his early teenage years he used to suffer with extreme nose-bleeds which would go on for hours, on this day he’d had a bad time and joined us, in his dressing gown, for supper. He later had his nose cauterised which prevented any further major problems.
Anyway, looks like my supper on this end of the table is ready to be eaten, so best get on with it then – Happy Christmas everyone!