S/P/T Days 23 and 24 and ghosts of Christmas past

Day 23 - Winter Wonderland (I wonder why I'm there)

Day 23 – Winter Wonderland (I wonder why I’m there)

Day 24 - Red

Day 24 – Red

You know the drill by now – Silent Sunday means just that, no words. Just one picture. So here are today and yesterday’s photographs for Britmums‘ ‘Snap it, Pin it, Tweet it’ photo challenge.

We did the usual over-consumption thing, again. Every year we say we’re going to cut back. Every year, the shopping bill for a couple of days’ worth of food (and drink) has me feeling extremely guilty . To be fair, this year, I think we have cut back, but food prices have – as expected – gone up. Our local Tesco also has a cunning little plan in the run up to Christmas. Remove all but the most expensive versions of popular products, for example, frozen sausage rolls. You can’t have your customers going for the Everyday Value sausage rolls at 88p for 50 when you have the ‘Party’ range at £2.00 for 40, can you? (I’m sorry, but I refuse to believe that the more expensive ones are any less mechanically reclaimed / scraped off the factory floor / from pigs who slept under duvets on feather mattresses – a sausage roll is a bloody sausage roll, they just put them in different bags).

Anyway, enough moaning. I have a cupboard full of Twiglets and a fridge full of cheese. I’m not sure I have enough wine to see me through this afternoon (I only have three bottles, after all), but the Co-Op are wisely staying open until 10pm tonight.

The second picture features my favourite Christmas ornament. It used to hang from my maternal grandparents’ Christmas tree, and it was bought by my mother when she was three. This battered little heart is now shining through its sixty first Christmas.

Things like this always lead me down the path of mawkish sentimentality when I start to reminisce about Christmasses past. I have learned that I must never start thinking back on family Christmasses when I have been on the falling-over water, because it always ends in tears and hand-wringing guilt that my children’s Christmasses don’t live up to how wonderful and magical mine were.

What I saw, as a child, was a day filled with family. My grandparents would come over in the morning when we were very young to watch us open our gifts. There would be an enormous lunch – always minestrone soup as a starter (my mother loathed minestrone soup, so I’m not sure why this was a staple of Christmas lunch), always turkey (my mother always complaining that it was too dry). Nine out of ten times, the stuffing would be forgotten about until 4pm when someone smelled burning. There were always croquette potatoes. We never had croquette potatoes at any other time of the year. Always Christmas pudding. I’m not entirely sure any of us actually liked Christmas pudding.

The grandparents would reappear in the evening, my grandmothers glammed up to the nines as though they were off to the opera. My Grandpa would invariably be 90 minutes later than the others because he was glued to Zulu for the forty seventh time. Even the invention of the VHS recorder didn’t help – he would just tape it whilst watching it so he could watch it again on Boxing Day.

There was laughter, and games, and stories from my grandparents’ past. There were lighthearted squabbles, and demands that my sister and I performed some twee Welsh hymn we’d learned at school. There was Christmas tea – with the too-dry turkey, and home-made mince pies, and trifle (mine with cream and no custard, Grandpa’s with custard and no cream – we were always partners in contrary awkwardness), and special orange chocolate biscuits my mother only bought for Grandpa because he didn’t like anything else.

Boxing Day evening was spent with Nanny and Grandpa (once he’d finished watching Ice Station Zebra, or – in later years – the recorded Zulu he’d watched the day before), the 27th with Nanna and Grandad. Heaps more food – including pickled onions, red cabbage, and – on Boxing Day – the annual ‘take the mickey out of Nanny’s Christmas cake’ (she had plastic candle decorations for the cake that, given her lefty leanings, we decided looked more like Soviet Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles). On the 27th, we used to play the ever popular ‘what did Nanna do with the sausage rolls she just cooked’ game, and ‘mustard roulette’, where you would have to guess which of the sandwiches had been liberally spread with half an inch of English mustard, despite Nanna swearing she didn’t even have any mustard in the house.

Our Christmasses at Casa del Raindrops are very different. We don’t have family around. Not because we don’t want to, but my family are all in Wales, and Richard’s family have other commitments to family who live more locally than we do. We don’t have turkey, we have duck. We don’t have minestrone soup, we have salmon or pate. We don’t have Christmas pudding, we have stollen cake. We absolutely do not have trifle. I don’t make my own mince pies. I usually forget to buy Christmas crackers.

It’s just the four of us; loads of Aldi nibble-food; red wine and cuddles. Christmas Day is usually spent laboriously undoing those pointless bits of wire that hold toys into boxes, looking for the batteries we definitely bought, looking through the wheelie-bin for some vital piece of toy that seems to have been thrown out with the wrapping paper and me drunkenly yelling ‘Stop trampling cake crumbles all over my floor’.

The kids seem to love it. They’ll have happy Christmas memories of their own, they don’t need mine.

Now all that remains is to wish my loyal readers – yes, both of you, a wonderful Christmas, and every blessing for 2013. See you on the other side!


2 thoughts on “S/P/T Days 23 and 24 and ghosts of Christmas past

  1. Helen says:

    You’re a genius … I was wondering when to serve the Stollen!
    It shall be after Swedish Christmas dinner today. (the ‘poor piggy’ combination of Ham, meatballs and cocktail sausages)
    The important thing is that you have that feeling of family – the feeling that does not come from numbers but from how loved is everybody present.
    I’m glad that I started a three-year rota of Christmas early on in our marriage because it gives that flexibility. Going back to my Mum’s for Christmas is like slipping back into familiar traditions but the others are a hodge-podge of my own, of British and German, Danish and Swedish and whatever I fancy because no-one can say it’s not right! (MArtin’s mum has elected to have Easter when it is her year, instead of Christmas)
    One thing that you learn from moving around Europe is that there is NO ‘right’ way … so you do it your way and your boys will love it just as much as you loved your childhood Christmases.

  2. alythmum says:

    Have a great day ….. will be thinking of you and yours. Hope everyone stays well and not toooo hyper. 😉

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