Christmas should be a magical time for children, but not in our household. My Dad was, and still is a drunk, (now age 94), and my Mum used to nag him constantly.
My gran had a pub, so Dad would spend all his free time drinking in her pub. We used to almost dread Christmas Eve, because we never knew what state he would come home in.
This particular Christmas I was 13, my brother 20, and his girlfriend 17. Mum had given Dad strict instructions that after work, he was to go into town and buy a chicken, for Christmas dinner.
It got to 4 p.m. and the shops were closing at 5. No Dad in sight, 4.15, 4.30, 4.45, 5.00 p.m., and now we are all thinking the worst. If Dad has been at Gran’s pub, he has either spent all the money, or completely forgotten to buy the chicken.
One hour later, and Mum is ready with the rolling pin, Dad makes his way to the door, opens it with a stupid grin on his face, and he isn’t carrying anything.
Mum lets out a whole lot of abuse, lifts the rolling pin, which we manage to get out of her hands, and Dad just stands there in a stupor.
I look at Mum and say in a quiet voice, so it’s another Christmas with vegetables for dinner. My brother and his girlfriend conveniently disappear, and Mum and I are left to try and get him up the stairs, and into bed.
When I went home to England in August, I spend time with my brother and his ex wife, who I love as a sister. I asked them if they had good or bad memories of Christmas, when Gran had the pub. We all said together, “Did we ever get a chicken for Christmas dinner?”, and then burst out laughing. Yes, today it does seem funny that as a family, Mum and Dad couldn’t save any money for Christmas. We had to wait for that last paycheck on Christmas eve, and if Dad didn’t behave himself, which was most of the time, we all went without food, and presents.
Christmas. here in Florida with just my husband Len is good, but it isn’t a family holiday for us. The one thing that does make me happy, and sad, is phoning my daughter, her husband, and my two grand-daughters, and hearing all about when they got up, who had what, and about the Christmas dinner, with turkey and all the fixings.
Christmas memories consists of vegetables, roast potatoes, Yorkshire puddings, and gravy. Mum always used to get a Christmas (plum) pudding, so we didn’t go hungry.
People talk about ‘the good old days’, but they were hard to come by in our family, especially the holidays, and Christmas in particular.