Christmas now for me is almost non-existent. I buy a pack of half a dozen charity cards each time I go into the paper shop to pay my bill on a Tuesday. I only buy two or three presents - the rest I give in the form of money because my mobility is not good enough to trail round shops doing "Christmas Shopping" as such. And I have the actual day with friends where we share the expense of the meal and then enjoy one another's company.
Yesterday I was looking back to my parents' preparations for Christmas - how different it was then. We never had much money when I was growing up but we were lucky enough to live very close to the Butchers in our Lincolnshire village. One of my mother's favourite jobs was dressing poultry so - yes - you can guess the rest. In the run up to Christmas my parents (after my Dad retired) prepared all the poultry orders for the Butcher. Every morning of the week several crates of capons, turkeys and geese would arrive in the yard. My Dad would get the copper going and then he would kill and pluck the birds and Mum would then dress them - a proper production line. For this my mother would get a large joint of meat (usually pork) and a large ham and then usually a goose, which was their favourite food for Christmas Day. She probably had money as well - I don't know. What I do know is that we never had less than a 'groaning' table over Christmas.
In addition my Mum would make her own mincemeat and her own Puddings. On the big Day all the family would come home, the biggest pudding would arrive steaming at the table, my Dad would heat brandy in a saucepan on the open fire, set fire to it with a match, turn round and pour it over the pud.
For tea there would be roast ham sandwiches and home made mince pies - in all my childhood I never remember my mother buying a cake - always home made. Her 'speciality' was Lincolnshire Plum Bread - if you have never tried it then do try to get hold of a loaf to try - toasted on Christmas Eve round the fire - you can't beat it.
Presents? We had very few - there wasn't enough money to stretch to that. But we never went short of food - and food of the very best. I realise now just how very lucky I was to have such a memorable childhood to look back on.