Christmas Day 2021

This would have been a memorable Christmas Day even had it not been the first for two years since the advance of the pandemic.

Following our normal routine with Mat, Tess, and Poppy; Becky and Ian, we began in mid-morning, when everyone had emerged from bedrooms in various stages of sleep and dress, with

the opening of Santa’s stocking presents.

Later, after watching this year’s memorable Queen’s speech, the sitting room was once more littered with the debris while the establishment of some kind of order was attempted in

the opening of major presents.

Of particular note was

Flo’s parcel from Kentucky containing her painting of Durdle Door, being her present to Daddy Ian, leaving him quite overcome.

America was good to us, since we also received a wonderful Shutterfly Photo Album from Jan and Bob Beek from Montana and their daughter DeAna from Switzerland. The photographs and captions form a most engaging set of memorable photographs and prose from Jan who spent much of the time beneath the large red umbrella featured in

Jackie enjoyed the antique Victorian mother of pearl and Brussels lace fan I gave her.

Next, was Christmas dinner at 6 p.m.

By the time I had been served with Yorkshire pudding, roast potatoes and parsnips, Tess’s homemade stuffing, pigs in blankets, mashed swede, carrots, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts and chestnuts, I wondered how I would add any turkey to my plate. The problem was solved by carver Tess and her helper, the Culinary Queen, stacking the meat on top of the rest. Regular readers will know of Matthew and Becky’s penchant for Grandma pepper. We now have my Mum’s own cruets with which to sprinkle the white pepper on our dinners. We drank a toast with Marlborough aerated Sauvignon Blanc 2018. Other white and red wines were also imbibed.

Afterwards we all decided to have a rest before trying Tess’s Christmas pudding. If it is anything like her Christmas cake it will be worth having left room for.

Christmas At Downton

Soon after the rest of us had dined on Christmas Eve, Mat, Tess, and Poppy arrived and consumed the rest of the Chinese meal. Jackie and I left the others and retired to bed somewhat later.

Christmas Day began with Mother and Father Christmas stumbling down the chimney before dawn to complete stocking duties.

It had been quite a job dragging Poppy’s into the room. Fortunately Barry and Owen had made a very good fist of sweeping the flue earlier in the year.

Beside the Christmas tree hung two of our granddaughter’s Christmas dresses, pink one having been made by Jackie by hand.

Strings of coloured lights festoon the walls. From left to right in these two images are featured Flo’s ‘My Grandpa smiling at me’ portrait alongside a charcoal drawing I made of Michael reading to Matthew in 1973; my photograph of Flo on her 18th birthday, and my pencil drawing of Jackie shortly before hers.

Much of the morning was spent opening – mostly Poppy’s – stocking presents. Here she discusses the next one with Tess. Matthew and Jackie remain in the background.

Mat received a Dandy annual in his sack, and lost no time introducing his daughter to the characters who had entertained his childhood, and that of his father before him.

After watching The Jungle Book we opened our main presents.

Jackie was quite pleased to receive the updated version of the Canon Powershot SX740 HS. This means that she will be able to see what she is photographing when she sneaks up on me.

I thought my new flash jacket went rather well with my work trousers and 30 year old grandfather shirt;

Matthew found that his birthday (19th December) jumper was a good fit.

It was all becoming a bit hectic, so I’m not sure what Ian unwrapped here.

Becky also received knitwear;

and a family heirloom in the form of a splendidly carved brooch, we think, in ivory. In a Garrard’s box this has been returned to me by Mum, as is her wont. She has labelled all presents we have given her over the years, intending for those to be returned to us when she dies. In more recent years she has been filtering them through to the original donor. This came to me a few days ago. I must have given it to her a good 50 years ago. It is now only legal to sell goods made from ivory before 1947, which means that this may have been antique when I bought it. Becky told me that after my grandmother’s death she was given a brooch I had bought her from Woolworth’s when I was a child.

Scooby was not left out. Here Tess ensures that he does not shake off his present.

Elizabeth joined us for the evening Christmas meal. The pudding and custard followed.

Goodness knows what everyone ate or drank.

A Tradition Maintained


This afternoon we were visited by Helen, Bill, Shelly, Ron, David, Jenny, Rachel, Gareth, Anthony, Jane, Neil and Donna, for the annual Boxing Day party.

Everyone gathered by about 3 p.m. and swapped all their latest news with the usual amount of fun and laughter. Guests could help themselves to cold meats, salads, and cheeses from the kitchen table.

Ian distributed drinks,

then turned to his role as quiz master.

There was keen competition between the two teams into which we were divided. Ian had spent considerable time on compiling a quiz of the year divided into months. A final round included 22 excerpts from Christmas songs which we were required to identify. The team I was included in was most fortunate in having Donna as a member. Almost single-handedly she clinched victory with her encyclopaedic knowledge of popular music. Each team had a scribe who would write down the answers. The debates to determine the answers became quite animated.

There were still some Christmas presents to be distributed.

Some tender moments were experienced.

Finally, Jackie’s delicious cooked meals became available for people to help themselves. The sitting room was cleared in seconds, until guests returned with laden plates. There was plentiful lamb jalfrezi, rice, onion bahjis, and samosas; and beef in red wine with mashed potatoes.


First Christmas Cold

Poor little Poppy, at four months today, has a cold. This reminded me of my sadness when Sam first cut himself.

Poppy and Mat arms and handsMat and Poppy

Our granddaughter spent much of the morning in her customary position on her Dad’s arm.

Poppy 2Poppy 4

After lunch, she perked up and, clad in her Christmas fairy outfit made by Granny, showed determined concentration in opening her sack of presents. (The photo on the wall in the third picture below is of Flo, the first Christmas fairy dress girl.)

Tess and Poppy 1Tess and Poppy 2Tess and Poppy 3Tess and Poppy 6Tess and Poppy 8

Some necessary assistance was rendered by her mother,

Undoing the mobile

although two pairs of hands were insufficient for the task of unravelling the mobile.

Don’t miss the little pink wings on Poppy’s back.

We opened our main presents before dinner. Jackie was delighted with her Pauline King (the contented crafter) light catcher all the way from New Zealand.

Christmas dinner: Jackie, Mat, Ian, Becky, Tess , Poppy

Dinner was the full works: roast turkey, roast potatoes and parsnips, stuffing, sausages, bacon, mashed carrots and swede, Brussels sprouts with chestnuts and onions, bread sauce, and superb gravy; all followed by Christmas pudding. Red and white wines were drunk.