Thursday, 24 December 2009

My Christmas Past

I grew up celebrating Christmas on a small scale. Christmas wasn’t about the pressure of buying each other presents – the closest it got was: a present for a Teacher; or exchange of Christmas cards at primary school level; and at High school, perhaps a box of chocolates between close friends. In our home, Christmas was celebrated in one room, the living room. In this room, my mother would make the effort of hanging some mainstream decorations (that could be re-used for other celebrations, my mother was forward thinking you see).
We never had a Christmas tree dangling with baubles, or beneath it, parcels wrapped up in gold and red glitzy paper, no crackers, or festive nick nacks, but the mantelpiece was adorned with Christmas card we had recieved or those glittery ones we had made at school. Throughout the season, we were firmly reminded by our parents that Christmas was about Jesus Christ, time for family – not just presents. So when Christmas day finally arrived, we celebrated like any family would. We dressed up in our shimmery brand new outfits, lovingly handmade by my mother. I was even allowed to put on a little rouge on my cheeks and lips. We all sat down as a family to eat something special. In our case it was a fat, juicy tandoori chicken; and some spiced fish, why was it special? Well my father made the family meal on Christmas day, giving a break to my mother. He also made his Anglo-Indian style roast potatoes with shorba (gravy). We adored this as it was something different from our usual fare, and it was quite funny to see our Dad in the kitchen. My contribution at the time would be to make the trifle with its hundreds and thousands from a packet. After stuffing ourselves on really good food, it was all about 'quality and rabble' time together, playing games, watching cartoons, films like Spielberg E.T. and Chitty chitty bang bang and gorge on more trifle . There was no exchange of presents between us, but my father would give us some money up to £5.00 each (depending on age), this pacified us, all those sweets we could buy. It was all good.
From not really celebrating Christmas on a mainstream scale in my childhood, my adulthood saw a change, particularly when I left home for University and external influences started rubbing on me. I hate to admit it, but it was around this time that I actually went though a greedy and selfish phase, where my expectations of receiving a Christmas present were really high, and this was from people who were not even family, I cannot believe I behaved like that in my early adulthood, but must admit I reflected and learned from that personal experience. Now I am more than content with a home-made preserves, jams, chutneys and even bottles of home made liqueurs, but in the past I would have certainly snugged my nose. The last few years saw me celebrate Christmas with my future-in-laws in Essex, (but that has not happened for a couple of years as D’s parents have moved overseas to sunnier climates). Also my nephews whom I am very close to were getting to an age, where they could come and spend time with me, so it became a bit of a tradition, that after spending Christmas with D’s parents, two or three days later we would swerve via Wales and pick them up on our drive back up to Scotland; or failing that they would fly up. This year however, the oldest nephew has just secured himself a job in the hotelier business, and with Christmas and the New Year being the industry’s peak season he will not be getting time off; and understandably, the youngest did not want to come without his brother.
So the pressure many people feel in order to get presents and ‘spend, spend, spend’ has not been on us this year. This year, there will be just D and me – looking at each other. I thank my lucky stars that at least we have each other to share Christmas day.

Happy Christmas to you all – wherever you are.

13 comments:

  1. Ahh such a level post looking back at Christmas Past. Happy Christmas and all the best for a great 2010!

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  2. Hi mangocheeks, we all had different Christmas traditions growing up but the commercialism has really crept in over the last 20 years or so,maybe the recession will bring people back to the realization of what Christmas is all about. May I wish you and D all the blessings of the Christmas season

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  3. Merry Christmas to you and yours!!

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  4. What a lovely, genuine and heart warming post. I wish you and D a very happy Christmas. I'm sure you'll eat well!
    Louise xx

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  5. Hi MangoCheeks: Thanks for stopping by my blog. I've been reading some of your posts, and I know I will be stopping by again to say "hi".
    Merry Christmas to you!

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  6. Oh, Mangocheek! I really enjoyed reading this post! I love the way you spent Christmas Day in your childhood and love even more the way you do now (that was the sweetest ending when you said "we have each other to share Christmas day". I grew up in Thailand which normally we don't celebrate Christmas but I went to Christian elementary school so I celebrated Christmas at school. As a kid I didn't have any pressure to give gifts to teachers and friends but now I live in the U.S., Christmas seems like a commercial time for me!

    Happy Christmas to you too!

    P.S. Sorry I didn't get to visit your blog in the past weeks because I've been working almost everyday.

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  7. I am so touched by your beautiful, wise, inspiring post! Such an incredible story of your childhood Christmas - such a beautiful way to grow up! Thank you for uplifting us with your wonderful words...

    Wishing both of you a perfect, beautiful, peaceful, and delicious Christmas!!

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  8. Thank you James. You have a Happy Christmas too.


    Thank you Peggy, you are so right. Every family has its own tradition. Happy Christmas to you and your family.


    Welcome Susie and a Happy, happy Christmas to you.


    Thank you so much Louise.
    Happy, Happy Christmas to you.


    You are so welcome Purple Flowers, and Thank you so much. Have a lovely Christmas.


    Happy Christmas to you and your loved one Michele.


    Oh Oraphan,
    Please never apologise for not being able to visit my blog, when you can I am always priviledged. I finished work yesterday for the festive holiday too, so totally understand the work pressures. Have a lovely day with your family. Warmest of wishes.


    Hello Astra,
    Thank you so much for your lovely comment. Mmm I don't know about wise, but experienced certainly :) Warm wishes for Christmas to you and your loved one.

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  9. This is a lovely post about Christmas, Mango. You're right, it is about family and what matters most in life, not how many presents are under the tree. Happy new year!

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  10. Thank you so much Barbara.
    Now with Christmas gone, we have New Year to look forward too. I am off work till Tuesday, so am really resting, and you know what resting means for the likes of us - home-cooking! Happy New Year to you too.

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  11. lovely reflections on christmas past - hope your christmas was a lovely one - my favourite memories are about the spirit of christmas and not the large presents but I do like a bit of giving and receiving as well as a tree - love the scent of it in our house

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  12. Thanks Johanna.
    My Christmas day was lovely and quite. My husband cooked our vegetarian roast lunch minus the parsnips :(
    Thank you for sharing your memory with me it is really appreciated. I don't want to be misleading, like you I still do like giving and receiving. This year, however it did not happen on a large family scale. We did have some presents to give to each other on Christmas day, so we had the pleasure of giving and receiving.

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