When I was a kid Christmas was ruled by tradition.
At the start of December the Advent Calendar went up.
On Christmas Eve the tree was erected and decorated while the radio played Carols from King’s College Cambridge. I never discovered where the tree came from – it just somehow arrived. Erecting the tree before Christmas Eve was unthinkable.
Christmas morning [in the very small hours], discovering what Santa had left in the long sock at the foot of my bed. Lots of little toys, knickknacks and treasures and an orange in the toe of the sock.
Mass with the family.
After breakfast and only then, all presents were collected in a big basket in the parent’s bedroom and ceremoniously carried into the sitting room. Excitement reaches fever pitch.
Rarely if ever did a present require a battery or a remote control. If it was supposed to move of its own volition, it had to be wound up with a key. Equally no toy would ever have bankrupt a small African nation. Each and every present would hold its value for a very long time and would never be dumped in favour of something more expensive. We appreciated everything in those days.
Dinner was the obligatory roast turkey with roast potatoes and brussels sprouts. Brother and sister made their obligatory complaints about brussels sprouts. Cider was served to all and was the only time I was [as far as the parents were concerned] allowed partake of alcohol. Main course was followed by Christmas Pudding and brandy butter [both home made of course]. Crackers were pulled and I always lost.
Afternoon was spent playing with presents and eating biscuits and Hadji Bey’s Turkish Delight [sent each year by an aunt in Cork] washed down with little maringue biscuits.
Tea was sandwiches and Christmas Cake, not that any of us were hungry.
Christmas lasted for twelve days and only twelve days. The tree and all the decorations were removed at Epiphany on January the 6th.
Simple happy times.