Ghost of Family Xmases Past

More Christmas memories

Jan Edwards

Reading  posts across various blogs about Christmases-past-and-present has set me thinking about the family traditions of my own childhood, and at the risk of sounding terribly boring ours were nothing out of the ordinary.

My family did the usual things familiar to all the length and breadth of these islands. We ate too much foimages (1)od, watched too much tv, played board games and ate even more food. As my father had just one sister, and Sussex was too far from Mother’s Welsh clans, Christmas was always celebrated among we five; my parents, my two elder brothers and me.

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Christmas Past and Present

And now for Barry’s Christmas memories.

Being Britalian

A few days ago I re-blogged a post by Misha Herwin about Christmas and the memories of her Polish family’s Christmas traditions that she still practices today. For those that don’t know Misha, she’s a very talented author and writer of the Dragonfire trilogy, the new, Clear Gold trilogy that’s had the first volume published this year and the haunting, House of Shadows; a novel that chills you in places that chills shouldn’t occur. (I’ll post links at the end of this post so you can check out Misha and her books).

As a child I remember Christmas as a day of getting up with the first light and with my sister and rushing downstairs and shivering in the front room; as back then we had no central heating and the previous evening’s coal fire would have died. We’d be allowed to open only one present before breakfast and would grumble…

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Qualcosa Semplice

Just what I needed today and something to bear in mind every other day too.

Being Britalian

Happiness is a thing that cannot be measured. It cannot be given and it cannot be stolen. It’s a fundamental part of life. Many people strive for ultimate happiness while many people have none. Wealth and power do not necessarily facilitate happiness and the acquisition of those things we desire only delivers a quasi-happiness. Sometimes real happiness comes from something simple.

Take last week for instance, I popped into the post office to post a letter. Like post offices the world over it was filled with people waiting until it was their turn to be served. I took my position in the queue and after several minutes one of the ladies behind the glass called out to me asking if I was just there to purchase a stamp. I told her I was and she beckoned me to the front of the line of people, who had bills and savings books in…

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Christmas Food

golombki3No, not the traditional turkey, goose, chicken, beef or pork. A pot full of golabki is one of the dishes we will be eating this Christmas Eve.

Because of my Polish family, my children were brought up celebrating both Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.  Which meant cooking two different meals.

On the night before Christmas we laid the table, putting wisps of hay, or straw under the cloth to remind us of Jesus in the manger. Then the youngest was set to look out for the first star, or that at least was the theory and it did give the kids something to do.

Once the star was sighted then Christmas could begin. First the baby Jesus was put in our homemade crib, then came the distribution of the oplatek. The thin wafer, like communion bread, that in those days was sent to us by our family in Poland. Each person took a piece and shared it with all the others, kissing them and wishing them a happy Christmas.

After that it was presents under the Christmas tree and finally when all the wrapping paper had been cleared up, the food.

Twelve different dishes, one for each of the disciples was the tradition. Some were British, like salad, or cooked chicken, others Polish like the pot full of cabbage wrapped parcels above.

Because there was so much to do and a lot of it was very time consuming, I always made these beforehand and put them in the freezer. Over the past few years my daughter Lucy has taken on this role,  but with a very new baby, she has more than enough to do, so once again I was in the kitchen first thing this morning, blanching cabbage leaves, frying onions and mixing them together with rice and minced pork, seasoning and herbs. Then the golombki are layered into a casserole and I pour over a mixture of Heinz tomato soup, water, stock and tomato puree. Over the years we have evolved a truly fusion cuisine.

Everything goes into the oven for about an hour, or so while I tidy up and remember all those long gone Christmases and speculate whether my grandchildren will in years to come be wrapping cabbage leaves around handfuls of pork mixture and thinking back to their childhood.

Green Tomatoes and that Moustache

A blog to cheer a grey December day.

Being Britalian

I wasn’t planning on writing a blog entry today as my day was initially going to quite ordinary, just cleaning out the log burner, walking the dogs and doing the weekly shop. So this morning I switched on the iPod as usual and the first song of the morning was, The Pretenders, One More Time as I made a coffee and let the dogs outside for their morning ablutions.

So my mundane day began with my cleaning out the log burner and replenishing the wood basket.  After breakfast with the dogs we took a stroll along the lane. My friend Michele is walking the opposite way with his dogs, so as we chat the dogs all sniff at each other and pass the time of day in their own way.

The most mundane of my tasks today is shopping, so I decide to get it done as quickly as possible, although I am…

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The Best Present To Give Your Writer Friend.

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Dear friends, it’s almost Christmas a time of giving and great cheer. Most of us are embroiled in the whole choosing, buying, wrapping and sending of presents. We’ve been to the shops, we’ve scoured the wish lists, or maybe we’re still racing around promising ourselves that we will, we honestly will start now, or tomorrow, or next week…

Getting and giving is good. It makes us feel happy, but if you have a friend who is an author there are some presents you can give at any time of the year which will earn you their undying gratitude.

Number one: Next time you go to a bookshop, or a library ask if their book is in store, or on the shelves. If it isn’t ask why and say that you can recommend it.

Number two: Tell other people you know, or an in contact with about what a good read you have found.

Number three: If you belong to any organisation that might be interested in your friend as a speaker, suggest them.

Number four: Review their book on line.

Number five: Use social media, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and other networks to share a link to the purchase page.

Number six: If you have a blog and their book is a good fit then offer to host a guest blog.

So many books have reached a wide readership because of word of mouth. We writers try our best, but what more could we achieve with “a little help from our friends”.

As they say in a certain supermarket ad. “Every Little Helps.”