The family arrived in time for tea mid-afternoon. There was still enough snow covering the ground and the thatchÂ to lend some Christmas enchantment. The little ones, and granddaughter Lara, almost 5 years old, particularly being a little overexcited about the prospects of the day to come.
Last year both Lara, and brother Sebastion, then 7 Â¾, both climbed into my four-poster with me around 4 a.m. I did my best to keep them from opening their presents before 6.00, but after much wriggling and sighing, I gave in Â around 5.30. This year they have strict orders from their Mum – daughter Chloe -Â they were not disturb me before 6.00 and then to wait for her to join us before opening their bulging stockings. After that excitement it was down for breakfast before getting ready for church. In the old days we would always stop off at the W-Pâ€™s for a glass of champagne after church before returning home — the WP’s house being adjacent to the church. However this year they were away so it was home to our own champagne and Â an early lunch (or is it dinner on Christmas day?).
The meal, beautifully cooked by â€˜my lovelyâ€™ was utterly traditional. The centrepiece a golden turkey, roasted to perfection, with ham. chestnut stuffing, miniature sausages, cranberry sauce and various exotic chutneys – which came with Tom Grant’s generous F & M hamperÂ – roast potatoes and all the trimmings. The table was a picture with the flames of the tall red candles reflected in the crystal glasses and silver candlesticks. Each grandchild had a dear little papier-mÃ¢chÃ© gilded angel in its place setting and brightly coloured crackers, scattered between bowls of nuts crystallised fruits, topped off theÂ festive scene.
This was our 45th Christmas Day, most of which have been Â spent here atÂ homeÂ with the family and have never varied. The end of lunch always heralds the Queen’s speech at three o’clock, most recently on television, which we faithfully watch every year. This is the prelude to the arrival of Father Christmas – this year, as most, more recently since I gave up, son Miles, who then distributed a seemingly gross number of presents to all and sundry. Am I only person to remember when I was young it was usually one â€˜bigâ€™ present andÂ two or three smaller ones. Be that as it may, the young today undoubtedly are over indulged, at least, that’s the opinion of a stuffy 75 year old.
By the time the presents had been Â distributed, ripped open and scattered around the sitting room floor and sack loads, of hopefully bio-degradable wrapping paper had been collected up, Â it was time for tea and Christmas cake. No sooner had this been washed down with some tea we reached the witching hour, when the â€˜sun was over the yardarmâ€™ and it was respectable to have a drink. Again, traditionally champagne before a light supper of smoked salmon and scrambled eggs, a tropical fruit salad and an excellent cheeseboard. I did open some rather excellent 30-year-old Port to go with the cheese but this was really a special treat. I only have two decent bottles of port left, a â€™73 and â€™63, the latter being kept to celebrate our 50th wedding anniversary – will I make it? Frankly, I have my doubts.
Replete, and with the two youngest in bed, we rounded off the evening, as we have always done, with some game or other, this time it was Articulate. I think son Miles and I came last, fractionally behind my 11 -year-old grandson and sister-in-law Kimberly; but then who cares. There would have been a time, when my lack of acuity would have worried me, but no longer. And so to bed, a happy bunny after a very lovely unchanging, unchanged Christmas day. (After reading how I had described our Christmas Â in such detail, I was very tempted to delete the reference to all the good things that we had to eat and drink, it all sounded so boastful but because that is whatÂ it was, and to say differently would be dishonest, I decided to leave it. However, having done so, I am intensely aware of how very fortunate my family and I am, compared with many other millions of people throughout the world.Â It was for this reason that I included the Christmas Blessing to my readers.