Christmas dinner

June 13, 2014

Day 10 WordPress101  Daily Challenge

Tell us about your favourite childhood meal — the one that was always a treat, that meant “celebration or that comforted you and has deep roots in your memory.

Free to focus on any aspect of the meal, from the food you ate to the people who were there to the event it marked.

Twist: Tell the story in your own distinct voice.


Christmas was always a lovely jolly time in my family. Over the years it had developed into a happy habit. My mum would cook. My dad would rearrange the furniture in the living room, in preparation for my grandparents to come for dinner. This was, by the way, at lunchtime prior to the Queen’s speech. We were from Manchester.  It was always that way.

During the morning you would hear my mother preparing things. The Turkey or Capon would be in the oven before most of us got up. The chop, chopping of vegetables would be the first thing you heard.  Breakfast was a fast, grabbed event, as the kitchen was turned over to the dinner preparations.

I had learned to make quite a nice sherry trifle as my offering, but this had to be made the day before.  Most people would have Xmas pud and custard as expected, but the trifle would be there for the rest. I would maybe be allowed to share the kitchen for ten minutes, to finish it off with hundreds and thousands or tinned cherries during the active morning.

We could be active, as we had already been to church the previous night. We were not bounded by mass times, so this morning was more relaxed than most.  I am not sure how much sleep my mother got in between events.  There of course had been the usual evening supper of small meat pies and bread fingers after the midnight mass.  We were not usually in bed much before two.  We were often up as children at six am to open presents. To this day I don’t know how she did it.

Then people would start arriving about eleven. My aunt would come for a sherry prior to lunch, even though she would have lunch with her children elsewhere later.  Sometimes a neighbour would pop in.  The whole house was welcoming and bright with all the Christmas trimmings.

Then the grandparents would come, my father playing chauffeur as the years went on.  The elders would lessen in numbers gradually, but the mainstay of my parents and the three children were constant.  The numbers at the table were sometimes swelled by different characters, as children grew up and gained partners. But the ritual remained the same.

After pudding the TV was put on and we did watch the Queens speech.  It just had to be done. Small children would scuttle off and play with their Christmas gifts, but the adults would watch and comment.

No one got drunk. It was a fact.  Despite Asti Spumante to go with the dinner and my father’s liking for rum. Sherry was offered to all, but no one got drunk.  My sister’s boyfriend arrived with a massive hangover once and he did not see much of that particular Christmas day.  But that was the nearest we got.

But this Christmas dinner routine was a façade.  It happened every year without question despite family rows and disagreements, despite family bereavements and tragic events. It was fragile, very important to my mother to maintain the status quo. There was a fear that if this charade was not carried out, then the whole pack of cards would come tumbling down.  It took me many years to realise that this was exactly what it was. I too had clung to the pantomime to keep everything safe and secure.

I have not been home for Christmas for over twenty years now. My excuse has always been that I am working or live too far away, either here in England or in foreign countries. I don’t crave the Christmas dinner scenario, in fact nowadays I take great steps to not.  My friends, eager to drag me into their version of the play, are often disappointed by my refusal.  I would rather be alone, than be complicit in the game.



3 Responses to “Christmas dinner”

  1. lucciagray Says:

    Your Christmases as a child sound endearing, and as a mother, I can understand your mother’s concerns, as you put it so well, she wanted to ‘maintain the status quo. There was a fear that if this charade was not carried out, then the whole pack of cards would come tumbling down.’ I came from a broken home at a very early age, and I always thought I was missing out on a more ‘stable’ life, which children need.
    Your post was very touching… Thanks for sharing.

  2. […] I shortened this post following a suggestion made by helenyoungmidwife, why don’t you check out her entry? […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: