Christmas past and Christmas present, what now lies ahead?

Christmas came and now its gone. All packed away for another year.

In many ways Christmas remains the same except gradual changes creep in year on year and my Christmas of 2022 is very different from the early ones I can remember in the 50s.

Nowadays we start preparing for Christmas in the New Year, at first just considering who will be at the dinner table, even who’s table it will be at.

It was simpler when we were young.

I can remember in Chesham, before we moved to Rhyl, Christmas was very traditional, Mum and Dad (Mummy and Daddy in those days) made sure we left our stockings at the end of the bed and in the morning they would be full of little surprises, a tangerine, nuts, sugar mice and chocolate coins.

When we were all dressed and after breakfast we would get around the Christmas tree and each present was handed to the named recipient.

There were presents “from Santa” and from Mummy and Daddy, Granddad, by that time only one was still alive and there were no grandmothers, then there were presents from aunties and uncles, including the honorary ones.

Obviously as children our presents included toys, but there were also more practical presents such as gloves, or scarves, socks and woolly hats.

Christmas dinner was turkey and all the trimmings, followed by Christmas pudding and we three children raising our glasses of cordial as Mummy and Daddy raised their wine glasses to toast us all a Merry Christmas.

After dinner we would play with new toys, or play ludo or tiddly winks before we sat down to watch television. Then later we had our afternoon tea with turkey sandwiches of course.

By the 1960s we were living in Rhyl and the morning routine remained the same but by then we went to the Drs Anderson (yes they were both doctors) along with other members of the group our parents mixed with for Christmas morning drinks.

In later years the young “set” would retreat to the kitchen area away from the adults in the front room, where we would drink cider and beer and any other forms of refreshment left around.

On Boxing Day the roles reversed and we hosted a drinks party, mainly for the same group but sometimes including visiting relatives and Granddad, of course, who now lived with us.

By the 70s my big brother was married and he and Jo, his wife, would alternate Christmas at our house and at Jo’s family home, soon to be followed by my sister getting married.

By 1972 it was changed again, I had moved down South and returned for Christmas but it was not quite as festive as previous ones as my grandfather had died at the beginning of the previous year.

The following year was my last proper family Christmas with my parents as by 1974 I was with the Sooty Show at the Mayfair Theatre with just a couple of days off for Christmas which gave me time to spend with a good friend in Basildon.

By 1977 my darling wife and I, with our girls, were living in Holyhead in a charming cottage on the mounntain, and gradually setting our own Christmas traditions. The girls were still young so we opened our presents around the tree before we got dressed for a late breakfast. There is great joy in seeing young children opening their presents with squeals of delight.

By 1980 (well 1979 in fact) things changed again as we were in Australia and to be honest in that heat sleep attire was not really suitable when you are taking pictures.

We still had our traditional Christmas Day but on Boxing Day we had our friends round for a proper Aussie barbie in the back yard.

We returned from Oz early in the 80s but the next few Christmases were mixed, especially one I spent alone in the Middle East, the second year out there it was just Marion, myself and our son David as the girls were staying with my brother and sister-in-law because they had reached an age at which local guys were showing too much interest in them

By 1988 we were settled in Prestatyn and Christmases returned to normal, even after we moved to Norfolk.

Sometimes our children were with us, sometimes not and as they grew older they had their own lives. Whenever they were with us for Christmas the traditions remained the same.

Even now Christmas at our house in the mornings involves presents after everyone has had breakfast and is dressed.

This Christmas, however, things were slightly different.

My daughter Sarah, and her husband Oliver, are making new traditions for our grandchildren and this year, while on holiday from the Middle East, they rented a house near the Thames and after opening our presents at home, my wife and I, along with our daughter Jacqueline and son David, went to their house to exchange presents and have the pleasure of seeing our grandchildren open their presents from us and us opening their gifts.

It was a wonderful Christmas morning and then the four of us returned home and had our Christmas dinner, with poussin instead of turkey but otherwise it was a traditional dinner with all the trimmings.

I wonder what Christmas will be like this year.

Published by Robin

I'm a retired journalist who still has stories to tell. This seems to be a good place to tell them.

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