I love Christmas time. It brings back wonderful memories of when I was a little boy at home with my parents, brothers and sister. It was a time of excitement and laughter with lots of great food cooked by my mother and my father, red nosed and a bit drunk laughing and playing with us.
We usually went to bed early on Christmas Eve. We were told that "it was a big day tomorrow and you need plenty of sleep for it". I found out years later when I had my own children, that this wasn’t true. It was so mum and dad could bring in the presents without us catching them and discovering that Santa wasn’t real. One night my brother and I stayed awake to see if we could actually catch Father Christmas in the act. We thought we heard him on the roof and became terrified that if he might catch us we wouldn’t get any presents. We promptly went to sleep.
The day would begin by mum and dad dragging us all along to church, that is if we didn’t go to midnight Mass. This always proved to be a spectacle, as we usually sat at the back, and from here got a great view of all the drunks, who mistakenly felt some need to wash their souls clean on Christmas Eve. One time to our horror, one of the drunks turned out to be my older brother……….
After Church we would open our presents. We were not rich, so the presents were meagre. I remember one year getting a bike, that dad had restored, painted and stuck a new bell on. The problem was, it was my older brothers ex bike. I wasn’t pleased.
After unwrapping the presents we would all go and play or sulk about "Our slack presents" or "So and so got a better present than me".
Mum would start making the Christmas lunch and dad would go to George Darby’s house and have a couple of Christmas drinks. It was more than a couple I can assure you. George was an old RSA mate of dads, and this tradition dated back before my birth. Dad would turn up around 12ish with a grin and a kiss for mum, for being "such a dear".
We would then crack the assorted Christmas nuts that someone had given us. We had a tradition of giving a box of assorted biscuits to all our relations, and they in turn gave us a box. On the odd occasion, someone got it wrong and gave us nuts. Cracking the nuts proved more of a problem than eating assorted biscuits. We usually cracked them outside, using stones on the path.
My auntie usually turned up around 12ish, just in time to crack a bottle of whiskey, wine, beer or sparking wine, with whoever would care to partake with her. This usually was dad, but on occasion other relatives would visit.
Lunch was at 1-2pm. This consisted of chicken, roast lamb, gravy, roast spuds, pumpkin, kumera and vast quantities of peas. Sometimes dad’s crop of peas from the garden was ready and we have these. Pudding was mum’s famous Christmas pudding which had money in it. It was so exciting eating pudding as you could get the half a crown. This was worth 2 shillings and 6 pence, or 25cents. It had the buying power of $10 in today’s cash.. Who ever got it was the lucky one.
After lunch we would lounge about, sleeping and playing, while the parents had a "snooze". It was a great time.
Hopefully Christmas will leave the same fond thoughts in the minds of my children.