Christmas Day passed very quietly. The men had a holiday from work and the children
from school and the churchgoers attended special Christmas services. Mothers who had young children would buy them an orange
each and a handful of nuts; but, except at the end house and the inn, there was no hanging up of stockings, and those who
had no kind elder sister or aunt in service to send them parcels got no Christmas presents.
Still, they did manage to make a little festival of it. Every year the farmer killed
an ox for the purpose and gave each of his men a joint of beef, which duly appeared on the Christmas dinner-table together
with plum pudding - not Christmas pudding, but suet duff with a good sprinkling of raisins. Ivy and other evergreens (it was
not holly country) were hung from the ceiling and over the pictures; a bottle of homemade wine was uncorked, a good fire was
made up, and, with doors and windows closed against the keen, wintry weather, they all settled down by their own firesides
for a kind of super-Sunday. There was little visiting of neighbours and there were no family reunions, for the girls in service
could not be spared at that season, and the few boys who had gone out in the world were mostly serving abroad in the Army.
There were still bands of mummers in some of the larger villages, and village choirs
went carol-singing about the countryside; but none of these came to the hamlet, for they knew the collection to be expected
there would not make it worth their while. A few families, sitting by their own firesides, would sing carols and songs; that,
and more and better food and a better fire that usual, made up their Christmas cheer.
Copyright © 1998 Flora Thompson All rights reserved.
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