Sunday, 19 December 2010

Nineteenth Day of Advent

- December 19th -

We had a routine in our house at Christmas, which ran over the three festive days.

Christmas Eve would usually be spent waiting for my Dad to come home early from work while we helped my Mum with the last bit of preparation for the following day (baking mince pies, getting the vegetables peeled and chopped, things like that). After my Dad got home we’d all go upstairs and get ourselves washed and changed and then we’d meet up with relatives at one restaurant or another for a three course Christmas meal.

I used to adore those times, sitting in a lovely restaurant, bedecked with wonderful trees and garlands, listening to the Christmas music being piped in through the speakers, with everyone around me just enjoying deliciously cooked food and the joys of the festive season.

It’s a tradition I still keep up today, with my fiancée, and various friends and family - though very rarely on Christmas Eve now, usually around the 22nd or so.

Christmas Day would see my brother, my sister and myself scurrying downstairs at the crack of dawn, and into the living room to find three huge piles of presents sitting on the living room floor. We would dart over, checking the tags on each pile, until we found the pile which was ours, and then begin tearing into them.

I remember quite vividly the year I got a bike as my big present (around 1982). It was a Raleigh ‘Strika’. Silver, it was, with black grips on the handlebars, a guard along it's chain and the name written along its crossbar in exciting colours. It didn’t have a kick-stand on it though, like my brothers (my brother’s was a big boy bike, a Grifter), but that was OK, because my Dad fitted one a few months later, so I could stand it up when I got off it, and didn’t have to lie it on the floor (which I hated).

I was so excited to have that Strika and just wanted to get out there and ride it all day long. But it had been snowing all night and now it was white over outside so I had to wait.

That was the first time I have experienced a White Christmas in my whole life - the second time was last year!

Around lunchtime, after we’d had a good play with our presents we’d go off to my Nanna and Grandad’s where there’d be lots more family members waiting, and more presents, and a lovely Christmas dinner.

Boxing Day would mean a trip to my Aunty Marge and Uncle Jack’s (regular readers of my blog will remember that they are the ones who had the little caravan in Bridlington that was full of books, every shelf and surface and nook and cranny, filled with books! - see entry June 23rd for that story -) where we’d spend the day with relatives we hadn’t seen since last Boxing Day, and we’d watch the big film on the television and play parlour games and have a delicious buffet.

I still remember the Christmas when my Mum told us that they’d decided we wouldn’t be doing this any more. That they wanted a quite Christmas instead, without the hassle of driving out to see family and spending Christmas away from the home.

It was never the same again. But now I’m grown up and planning my own Christmases I always make sure that we have a few days away with the family. One year we spend Boxing Day with my fiancée’s family and New Year with mine, the next year it’s the other way around.

That’s how I grew up with Christmas, and that’s how it should be.

A Raleigh 'Strika' like the one I had for Christmas 1982


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