Of Christmas Traditions, Schooldays and Home Improvements

Before Christmas recedes even further into distant memory (well apart from the extra weight that most of us will have inevitably gained) and following on from my previous post concerning Christmas decorations, do take time to record your family’s Christmas traditions and memories. I distinctly remember the year when my poor mother, whose cooking ‘skills’, like my own, were minimal, accidentally deposited the roast potatoes, on the floor. She was probably trying to cook for 8 or 10 of us. I don’t think that the ‘3 second rule’ had been invented then but suffice it to say we did eat those potatoes and most of the diners were blissfully ignorant of their contact with the kitchen floor. Then there was Uncle Percy who didn’t eat turkey, except that is when he came to Christmas dinner each year and happily consumed what we told him was chicken. There were games and quizzes. When we acquired a reel to reel tape recorder in 1967 we recorded the voices of the family and then tried to identify them when played at high speed. Those tapes and the machine do still survive although I have not tried to play them for decades. I really should find the correct tape and do this. I was able to participate in another Society for One Place Studies Google+ Hangout on Air about Traditions and Celebrations in communities of the past. There were some very interesting observations – do listen in to the recording.

As part of a group of fifty somethings I have just spent a very pleasant Friday evening (yes we should get out more) reminiscing about our school days, fellow classmates and hapless staff members. This is in the run up to a reunion to mark 40 years since we left school. I was pleased that I could remember almost all the names of my classmates and even where they sat. At the moment our collective memories are on Facebook chat, we really should do something more permanent with them.

I’m in the midst of another one of my four talks in eight days stints. Today is another presentation of my Writing up Your Family History day course. It’s not too late for New Year’s resolutions – do it – now! If you are female, were born in Britain before 1957 and want to record your memories of the years between 1945 and 1970 I need you and you need me. This is part of your family history. More details soon but it will mean that you are encouraged to preserve your past for future generations of your family.

I am afraid posts may be somewhat dominated by home improvements over coming weeks (please not months). I am having various things done including having a conservatory built. I loathe being invaded by workmen so the process is not stress free. So far I have got to day one, it should be day four but that’s another story. The skip will fit up my drive by sadly not the skip delivering lorry so the skip is having to go elsewhere – why did no one realise this sooner? Equally the materials delivering lorry cannot get near enough to do its job. The materials are now on my neighbours’ drive. Said neighbours are clearly destined for sainthood or at least the honours list. So far the old porch is gone – after a delay waiting for protective clothing so that asbestos could be removed safely. My porch has been shown not to contain harmful asbestos so what was that about? I have a muddy heap in what was my garden and the outline of a conservatory painted on the ground. There’s a wall that isn’t quite in the right place and the doors appear to open the wrong way but hey! Yesterday no builders – well that’s not strictly true. There were builders, different builders doing a different job. Oh whoops slight pause as they are due at daybreak, will be outside the bathroom window and I realised I needed to vacate the shower before their arrival. Glutton for punishment me.

I promise I will try not to harp on about hardcore and down pipes but home improvements are part of the history of our homes and families. I can remember having central heating installed in the 1960s, my mother remembered having electricity put in, do our descendants realise how different our lives used to be? Take a look at the My Homes Past website.

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