Monday, 1 December 2014
Looking back at Christmas
Go, go, gadget organisational skills...
I now have a monster to-do list covering everything from individuals to post cards to and items to shop for (Bath Christmas Market is is full swing, which means hordes of tourists, which means I try to get into town early and do my shopping bit-by-bit before starting work at 9:30 to avoid the crush). It's doable. It is doable.
Anyway, because I have lots to do and time is precious, I thought I'd waste some of it taking a look at what some of my older books and magazines suggest, giving, doing and making for Christmas.
There weren't actually many suggestions at all. As a lot of my magazines are craft ones, it's no surprise that most of the gifts mentioned were home-made, though the 1930s advert suggesting that 'When he asks you "What would you like for Christmas"' you should ask for a Triplex Grate made me chuckle. I don't care if it 'does such beautiful cooking' and 'gives hot water galore for baths', if Mr Robot bought me a domestic appliance for Christmas he'd be taking it back to the shop on Boxing Day or else. He can ignore the little cartoon where one chap is saying 'Can't think what to give her this Christmas' and receives the advice, 'Why not a Hoover? She's always wanted one' too. Those are gifts for the house and I am not the house!
I suppose that tells me a lot about how lives have changed, though. Domestic work must've been incredibly arduous a hundred years ago, with coal fires sending out dust that constantly needed cleaning up, and a kettle had to be boiled before you could even wash up. A Triplex Grate or a Hoover probably represented a gift of time - but I'd rather have the scarf and gloves from the knitting magazine, or a glamorous new pullover. How about you?
Then there was the recipe for 'An Empire Christmas Pudding' supplied by the King's chef. The first ingredient was 5lbs of currants. And 5lbs of raisins. Well, that's my mixing bowl full - I'll just have to leave everything else on the shelf, though the gill of brandy and two quarts of beer further down the ingredients list could be, ahem, put to alternate use. Good Housekeeping sold ready-made cakes anyhow, with a choice of three decorations: snow scene (appropriate), fruit basket (eh?) or chintz (double eh?). Very little changed between the 1930s Christmas recipes and the 1950s ones, except the quantities got smaller.
Still, for all that I laugh at their oddities, the Christmasses in my books and magazines aren't that dissimilar to modern ones, with the pleasure of giving people things that make them happy, and a very familiar meal for everyone to enjoy, including mince pies and turkey. If I want mine to be enjoyed by everyone, I'd better pull my socks up and make sure I've completed everything on that to-do list by the 25th! How is your planning going? Halfway done? Nearly complete? Or being left until the 23rd?