My first Christmas in Rossington
I was born in the northeast and moved to Rossington when I was almost 4. That first Christmas I was in Rossington, the whole family met at my grandparents’ house in Allenby Crescent for a tea on Boxing Day and the gathering afterwards was where we all did our party pieces. There must have been about 20 of us but the room there went from front to back of the house so we all fitted in. They were large houses, but I suppose they were built to accommodate the larger families they had then. My cousins sang, with one of them having a beautiful voice, and my Dad was a good tenor and sang a song to my Mum. As a little girl, I was confused why he was singing ‘I’ll take you home, Kathleen’, when her name was Doreen! Some of the other people played instruments so we had musical pieces from them and we all sang popular songs of the time together.
Before going on to party games, my Dad said a very long poem which fascinated me, as I didn’t know then he could do that. Years later, I found out that the poem he recited was ‘Eskimo Nell’ and it contains some very choice language. I asked my Dad what he did with it as there were children there and my grandparents were church-goers! He said he had changed some of the wording to suit the audience. I think he must have changed quite a lot. At least two films have been made about Eskimo Nell, and it’s about a very seedy set of people. Look it up!
All in all, I look back on it as a very Edwardian Christmas, with the food being provided by Grandma – her own bread, ox tongue, pressed ham, brawn, tea bread (like malt loaf), shaped jellies, and what she called her Bible cake because it only contained ingredients mentioned in the Bible. She made elderberry wine, and I think a lot of that flowed too…. The party games were very innocent and all joined in – some of them I have never seen anywhere else since then. We made our way back to Deacon Crescent where we were lodging – very full and very happy, and it snowed.