Christmas day would always begin in our parents’ bedroom, just as it has for our children. Three excited little people, (and as the years slipped by, not so little people!) would drag their bulging stockings to our parent’s bed, it was always still dark so it must have been too early for them! They would eagerly participate in our squeals of joy as each tiny treasure was revealed. Somehow we would all be detangled from the ribbon and paper, a turkey would be encased in the oven and we would succeed in getting to church on time. On Christmas morning it would always be packed, much loved carols would be sung, bleary eyed children (and parents!) would clutch a favourite Christmas morning gift and there would be a momentary quiet as we all listened to the story of the birth of a small baby, long ago.
We would return home for Christmas breakfast, bowls of grapefruit and mandarins followed by cold ham. Finally we were allowed to open some presents by the tree but only a few of them. My father, just as his mother before him, made us stagger the opening!
Around 3pm (after the Queen had broadcast her Christmas message) we would sit down to an enormous Christmas lunch, turkey with stuffing, small chipolatas wrapped in bacon, cranberry sauce, bread sauce, brussel sprouts, roast potatoes, roast parsnips and lashings of piping hot gravy all served on the best china from tureens, making it very special! It was followed by Christmas pudding, always stuffed with foil wrapped money, originally a small sixpence. It was a wonderful meal, crackers were pulled, paper crowns worn and silly jokes shared, Daddy would tell us Christmas stories and tales of his childhood and if my grandfather was there we would normally end up singing!
Finally we would all collapse in front of a roaring fire and in an era before videos and DVDs were even heard of, we would watch ‘the Christmas film’ on television, ‘The Sound of Music’ a ‘James Bond’, something which, at the time, seemed utterly thrilling! Our energy somewhat restored, we would maybe play a board game, scrabble or monopoly and then late in the evening, somehow find room to devour cold turkey and pickles! Christmas was far from over, for the next day was Boxing Day, there were more presents to open, visitors to arrive and much more fun to be had…..
Christmas in England, when I was a child, didn’t end on the 25th, it truly lasted for 12 days!
Oh, before I go, and in case you are wondering, I am not quite the age of a Victorian, but I do love these pictures, it’s how I think of Christmas!