Christmas is a time of family gatherings, but I’ll never forget the preparations that went on, and probably still do – but I’ve found out you can buy most of it in the supermarket and put your feet up!
“The Christmas pudding was stirred at the beginning of September, alongside making the Christmas cake, in the front room so you could sit down because it took so long. Nan let me put the sixpence in and make a wish – before health and safety and common sense pointed out you could choke. It sat in the pantry for months next to the uneaten Christmas cakes, because it was concrete, raisins so densely packed you could build a house with it. You didn’t eat it, you just acknowledged it’s existence ‘Here’s the Christmas cake!’ ‘Ah. Great’ ‘You want some’ ‘Nah, it’s alright’.
The kitchen housed mice, no washing machine but a newfangled spin dryer used after you’d done the handwashing in the sink. A tiny fridge with no freezer – except the freezing cold pantry, filled with ancient tins like a food tardis, so damp the mice needed raincoats. One of the tins was from George Hunt’s stint in World War One, mystery contents never opened. ‘We can try it one day, it’ll be alright, it’s in a tin.’
I used to go in and poke around but never saw the back, I reckon if you ever managed that you’d find yourself in Narnia. There was marmite from 1962, Camp coffee from the 50s, and rows of old Christmas cake that even the mice didn’t eat.
Nan and my Mum are in the kitchen cooking everything you can imagine for Christmas dinner when there’s only going to be about 6 of us there. Sprouts are on from 6am, hair in curlers, bread sauce from scratch, the turkey ordered three months ahead, being stuffed with a homemade stuffing.”
And then after all that, my Nan would only have a bit because she was ‘on a diet’. Well, I say a bit, she’d ‘have another little bit’ and ‘another little bit’ because ‘you don’t want it to go to waste’.
I do miss those days! And I never did find out what was in that tin.