When we were called into Mom and Dad's room, we assembled round their
bed in age order. Margaret was the first to open her stocking while the
rest of us watched, eager and impatient for out turn to come. Of course
I was last!
Imagine my distress when one Christmas my stocking did not contain
goodies, but just a piece of coal! This was because of some misbehavior
or wrongdoing during the year. I was the scapegoat, for I knew that my
brothers and sister had not been perfect for the whole year. I guess
this was meant to be a lesson to them as well as me. But what a hard
lesson for a little girl. I wonder if it converted me to 'perfection'
ever after? I think not, for I was always a lively lass. My brothers and
sister would say that I was 'bossy'. But I had to be to keep them in
order when I was left in charge of them a11.
Back to Christmas morning. Breakfast consisted of portions of pork pie,
no cooked breakfast on this morning as time did not allow.
The year I had coal in my stocking
Dad vanished after breakfast and happened, he said, to bump into
'Father Christmas', who had relented of his earlier harsh treatment of
the eldest child of the house and had sent her a doll with good wishes
and hopes for her to reform in character. I was very relieved and happy!
After the pork pie was consumed, there was much preparation and cooking
to undertake for Christmas dinner. During my young days there were no
ready prepared foods. Parsley had to be grown, picked and chopped before
one could make stuffing or sauce. Sage and thyme the same, except they
had to be dried and stored before they could be used. Suet was purchased
from the butcher in a lump and chopped or grated for cooking. Poultry
was only partly plucked and had to be 'gone over' and then dressed.
Raisins had to be stoned, a sticky job, and currants washed and dried.
Candied peel had to be chopped. Soup was made by simmering bones and
then adding cleaned and chopped vegetables. There was nothing available
in tins or packets. You could not buy pudding or cake mixtures.