The Best Day of the Year
by B.A.C taken in 1993
When I was a child, things were very simple. Wages were low and everything was home-made. Of course, Father Christmas came to visit homes where children lived and there was great excitement as December 25th grew near; except perhaps for one little girl who did want “an old man coming down her bedroom chimney”. So, the stockings had to be hung on the fireguard in the kitchen.
All was well on Christmas morning when the stockings were full of oranges, nuts and sweets with presents beside. Toys, games and books were often found. The Beatrix Potter books like Peter Rabbit and Benjamin Bunny were very popular. Dominoes, Ludo Snakes and Ladders and card games such as Happy Families (with Mr Bun the Baker, Mr Bones the Butcher and Mr Soot the Sweep, etc.) lasted for many years.
Going to Church, hearing the story of the first Christmas, singing old carols and hymns were all part of the day. The choir came out in procession before (and after) the services from the old vestry behind the font, all the Church lit after dark by candles or lamps. The Church was decorated beautifully with evergreens, which were the main Christmas decorations, some also being placed as wreaths on the war memorial and on the family graves.
A week before Christmas a special whist drive was always well attended as the prizes were all Christmas fare like game, poultry and other things to eat and drink! Father won a live goose one year, gave it a reprieve and it became the family pet. ‘Goosey’ used to go for walks with us in the summer.
Christmas puddings, cakes, mincepies, toffee and many other good things were made by mother, and Dad brought crisp white celery from the garden for tea. We were expected to eat bread and butter first while longing eyes were fixed on the cake, iced in pink and white with silver balls. In the evening, roasting chestnuts on top of the kitchen range was great fun.
It was the best day of the year and it seemed a long, long time to the next Christmas.