Author Topic: Christmas comes but once a year - but when does it start?  (Read 1421 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Offline MickG

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 1,401
    • View Profile
    • Mick's Muses
Christmas comes but once a year - but when does it start?
« on: 23 November, 2017, 05:48:47 PM »
We are now but a week away from December and for many the 1st December was the start of the traditional run up to the festivities. Planning for a Christmas tree, not too early lest the pine needles started to drop before the magic day itself. Dad would plan a trip into the attic to rummage around for the boxes containing all the decorations, followed by a examination of said contents to see if they would survive the ravages of another year, or whether some would need replacing.

There was no early supply of frozen turkeys, or a large hen if you were not so fortunate, as no one had freezers to store them. These were either ordered in advance at a butchers, or bought 'fresh' in the market much later if you cared to chance your luck. In many ways the run-up to Christmas used to be something like a pre-planned military operation. Everything had to be catered for in advance but the logistics of the time, as well as a sense of decorum dictated that nothing could be done too early. As children relishing thoughts of mince pies that would soon be appearing in the shops, as well of hopeful expectations of presents to come filled our minds. Our mums had been 'stocking-up' since the Autumn and many still made their own tradition Christmas puddings. As children we all got to stir the pudding and were allowed to run our fingers around the empty bowl to taste the scrapings.

Early December tended to be something of an expectant lull with nothing much happening other than a child's ever-growing expectation. Trips to department stores to see Santa and sit on his lap while he gave you a cheap toy normally occurred during this period. Schools also began to make their preparations with the traditional licking of coloured gummed strips of  paper to make paper chains to hang around the wall. In the playground kids would begin to boast about the presents they expected to receive with each kids claim being bigger and better than the previous child. In the austerity that was post-war Britain, very few of these exaggerated claims would be realised.

And then about a week before Christmas it was almost as if Eisenhower had given a silent 'Go' command for D-Day. Families across the country all suddenly sprung into action. Dad would normally come home from the market struggling with the weight of a real conifer tree. Paper decorations would be hung up in the lounge usually emanating from a central point towards the wall like drapes of garlands festooning the room. Further chains of decorations would be hung around the walls of room. A small table would also be set up to hold all the bottles of festive cheer. Come Christmas Eve children would find it hard to sleep or contain their excitement for the following day. I forget how many times I would wake up in what seemed like a eternally long night to go into my mothers room and shake her to ask if it was time to get up yet? Dawn of Christmas would finally break although mums would have been up long before to put the turkey in the oven. Children still in pyjamas would be eagerly tearing decorative wrapping paper off their presents to see what goodies lay within. Sometimes it was just what one wanted or perhaps a pair of socks from a aunt, how thoughtful of them.  :( Many dads would don their best bib and tucker and disappear, or perhaps that should be escape to the pub until lunchtime. Eventually came the great feast itself with the table decked out with every delicious treat one could think of, except perhaps for the Brussel sprouts which adults seemed to love but most children did not. As children we never got a sniff of a turkey leg as that was reserved for adults only. As I grew older that had reversed and children got the legs instead. A flaming Christmas pudding appeared with lashings of custard and cream. It was afterwards everyone suffered from that bloated feeling as everyone lazed around imbibing drinks or lemonade awaiting the traditional Queen's speech.

Christmas itself was only a short period of festivity consisting of Christmas Day and Boxing Day. Following that people went back to work with the next public holiday not being until Easter. Even New Years Day was not a holiday then.

Slowly at first as the years passed, commercial interests started to introduce Christmas fare into their stores earlier each year. Mince pies and crumpets became available all year around and the Christmas period gradually got extended for many workers well into January. It does seem now like the trappings of Christmas start well before the first leaves had fallen. While this may be good business, I sometimes wonder if somehow Christmas has lost a lot of its flavour from the time it was concentrated into a short period of time?

Offline Laramie

  • Jr. Member
  • *
  • Posts: 18
    • View Profile
Re: Christmas comes but once a year - but when does it start?
« Reply #1 on: 24 November, 2017, 05:04:58 PM »
Funnily enough,a friend and I were reminiscing yesterday,We both said about the paper chains which were strung across the room to a central point.They were dragged out every year and also the paper bells.The tree wasn’t brought into the room until a few days before Christmas,unlike now when people have trees up for weeks before the event. I think it was the only time we ever had pomegranates.What a waste of time they were! All those seeds.Don’t think anyone had heard of making the delicious juice we can get now. Then there were the cobnuts and chestnuts to roast.What a treat! My pocket money was paid into a club and it was such a thrill when it paid out and I could go and buy the Christmas presents. You were right about grown ups having the turkey legs.Originally we had chicken .It was much later when we had a turkey.Remember one year,when dad decided to get a goose.Oh my goodness,what a let down.Never again did we have goose. I don’t remember having a Christmas list,but my sisters and I always had a pillowcase  with plenty of gifts at the end of our beds.
I agree with Ron that it is just like a Sunday now.When you have small children around you make more effort to decorate and make it fun for everyone. Must be getting old and crabby,but there’s not much about the real meaning of the day. Only a few weeks and it will be over ,but the TV repeats will still be on! Merry Christmas! Or should I say bah humbug?

Offline DougT

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 751
    • View Profile
Re: Christmas comes but once a year - but when does it start?
« Reply #2 on: 29 November, 2017, 06:25:56 PM »
Well it's November 29th and I have done all my Christmas Shopping. I have written some Christmas Cards simply because a friend is taking them to another location for me to hand them out and I am reciprocating that gesture. Really don't get into the mood for Christmas until at least December 1st but being in a Salvation Army Band means that I have 28 Engagements to fulfil between December 1st and December 25th hence the need to get Christmas Shopping done early.

Offline nollanhej

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 111
    • View Profile
Re: Christmas comes but once a year - but when does it start?
« Reply #3 on: 29 November, 2017, 08:43:39 PM »

I'm afraid I only remember a fattened rabbit for many years, I can also remember Chicken that mum got without fowl in later years when she got paid out the Christmas loan-club money. I bought turkey when I married. [Ooops: I mean for Christmas after I was married ]: haven't bothered for years since, unless we have visitors for dinner.  [I know they're no tastier than a shop bought turkey, but at least we knew where they come from] but also we usually have some sort of bird! I loved Christmas as a child, Apple/orange/silver shilling, a few sweets in the sock [a clean one of course] hanging over off the mantle shelf. [Do you remember when our bedrooms in the old houses all had fireplaces. Happy post-war days. After dinner out to play with mates . . . usually on the bomb debris. Long,

Offline dave twitchett

  • Helpful user
  • **
  • Posts: 43
    • View Profile
Re: Christmas comes but once a year - but when does it start?
« Reply #4 on: 07 December, 2017, 07:28:27 PM »
Two memories of Christmas birds. One was when father entered a raffle in the Boleyn pub for a Capon. Much to his surprise he won it. Problem was nobody told him  or mentioned that it was live!!!!   It spent one night at least in the dolly tub with some sort of a cover on it. Second memory is of me attending Butlins  butchers in the Barking Road for the weekly scrag. It happened that on that day the draw for the forthcoming Xmas turkeys was held., for that year Butlin had not enough to supply all his registered customers in those rationed days. As  my turn came to be served I was asked to pick a piece of folded paper from a large bowl. Some of these scraps had turkey written on them ,the rest being blank. I soon spotted that the writing could be dimly seen through the back of the folded paper so obviously picked such a one. Then the butcher with sharp observation   turned to the next lady in the queue and said. He' is lucky, why don't you ask him to pick for you? She agreed so I sorted through the bowl until I found a turkey for her. She must have been a good customer!!!