In the run up to Christmas Day I am going to share some of my memories of this time of year, some favourite food and drinks, plus some music you might enjoy. I have taken snippets from 2016 and 2018 to share with you.
First some music and another timeless classic.. Little Drummer Boy, this time from the Pipes and Drummer of the Irish Defence Forces… Óglaigh na hÉireann / Irish Defence Forces
On this eighth day of my own memories of Christmas I have moved on from 1977 when I was not sure what the future would hold for me to the Christmas of 1979.
I had left the school in Sussex where I had been Housekeeper/cook for 18 months and moved in the April 1979 to Wales to be Assistant Manager at a hotel between Dolgellau and Barmouth on the Mawddach Estuary in the stunning Snowdonia National Park.
I was by this time in a really good place personally and had regained by physical and emotional health. I loved my time at the hotel and when it closed in the October until Easter 1980 I stayed on in my flat in the nearby Chapel House and took on inbetween season decorating and essential repairs. I was on half pay but I had a snug roof over my head and although I did not drive at that time I would catch the bus to either Dolgellau or Barmouth once a week to buy my food and catch up with the rest of the world.
I did however go home to Portsmouth for Christmas and as I was going to be there for about six weeks I decided to earn some extra cash by signing up for a temp agency and utilising my rusty secretarial skills. I spent a couple of weeks in a large insurance office typing cheques for claimants and that was pretty mind-numbing. In those days of course it was not automated and you were given a roll of blank cheques and then you typed in the recipient and the amount in words and the figures.. They were carbon backed so there was a second sheet which served as the record. If you made a mistake you had to call the supervisor over who would void that cheque and out of a roll of 100 if you had more than 5 voided you were returned to the temp agency as defective.
I wanted nothing more than to get through the day as quickly as possible and with as many cheques completed as possible.. However my efforts to type 100 a day backfired on me as the other temps were only typing 50 a day. The reason for this was revealed to me in the ladies toilets by two representatives who informed me that at 50 cheques a day we would be able to string the job out until Christmas and I was making them look bad.
With that in mind, I had a word with my temp agency and asked if they might have something else I could take on for the next two weeks. Turns out there was something even more unpopular than typing cheques all day and they had problems filling the job… receptionist in a funeral home. You can read about that next time.
Five years ago a young girl took the world by storm and Amira Willighagen joins André Rieu with a stunning rendition of O Mio Babbino Caro courtesty of André Rieu
Still only 14 years old this extraordinary young teenager now lives in South Africa and is still singing. She live streamed a concert during lockdown and is planing a live concert when possible, hopefully this Christmas.. You can find out more about her:Amira Online
The Twelve Days of Christmas
Day 8 (1st January) is a celebration of Mary the Mother of Jesus and obviously Mary was extremely important within the whole story of the Nativity from the Virgin conception through Jesus’s lifetime. Mary has been revered in her own right especially with women in a number of religions including Eastern Orthadox and as Maryam in the Muslim faith.
The Eighth Day of Christmas and we appear to have moved away from the bird theme and to be honest since we had reached the largest bird known to us the next step would have been ostrich and it would have ruined the song. We move onto the eight maids a milking.
One of the more intricate recipes that has run parallel to the song itself was the roasting of a swan but inside that de-boned swan would be a goose, a colly bird, a French Hen a turtle dove and then a partridge.. It took many hours to prepare but was considered a dish fit to put before a king…Thankfully even our present day royalty seem to content to have the humble turkey for their dinner which is just as well since that is the subject of the food today.
Going Crackers at Christmas
Thanks to all things festive Why Christmas here is something about Christmas crackers.
They were first made in about 1845-1850 by a London sweet maker called Tom Smith. He had seen the French ‘bon bon’ sweets (almonds wrapped in pretty paper). He came back to London and tried selling sweets like that in England and also included a small motto or riddle in with the sweet. But they didn’t sell very well.
Legend says that, one night, while he was sitting in front of his log fire, he became very interested by the sparks and cracks coming from the fire. Suddenly, he thought what a fun idea it would be, if his sweets and toys could be opened with a crack when their fancy wrappers were pulled in half.
Crackers were originally called ‘cosaques’ and were thought to be named after the ‘Cossack’ soldiers who had a reputation for riding on their horses and firing guns into the air!
When Tom died, his expanding cracker business was taken over by his three sons, Tom, Walter and Henry. Walter introduced the hats into crackers and he also traveled around the world looking for new ideas for gifts to put in the crackers.
Traditionally apart from a plastic toy… there is a paper hat and a silly joke… something along the lines of the following courtesy of Funny Jokes
What did Father Christmas do when he went speed dating?
He pulled a cracker!
What do you get if Santa comes down your chimney when the fire is ablaze?
Why does rain drop, but snow fall?
(Nobody can answer this conundrum)
What do you get if you team Santa with a detective?
What do you get when you cross a vampire and a snowman?
What is the difference between the Christmas alphabet and the ordinary alphabet?
The Christmas alphabet has No L (Noel).
Time for another dish from Carol Taylor’s Vegetarian Christmas Menu and it is an alternative to the turkey and all the other birds mentioned above…..Nut Roast with Salsa
Image The brown paper bag.
Another popular carol but this time everyone can join in as it is a flash mob of O Come All You Faithful…The Five Strings
Thank you for joining me today and as always I love to read your comments.. thanks Sally