Looking back on winter people remembered sliding across the school playground in the frost, and playing snowballs – two nice cheap games needing no equipment! The boys would be wrapped up warmly in their knickerbocker suits or breeches with winter coats and boots.
The awkwardness of laundry days would be worse in winters with rainy or snowy spells forcing clothes to be dried indoors. Family members would come in wet and their clothes would need drying out. More dirt would be brought into the houses at this time of year, because roads without tarmac would readily form ruts and puddles.
In the mid-1920’s, leisure-time would be spent listening to crystal wireless sets, playing board games or doing needlework, with occasional visits to church-organised activities. The Rector ran dancing-classes, which were disapproved of by the Free Church folk. The Girl Guides went to surrounding villages to perform concerts and sketches.
Talk of winter brings us inevitably to Christmas. Christmas before the war, the gifts would often be home-made – needle cases or wooden toys would be common Christmas presents – or people would buy things in Woolworths where nothing cost more than 6d. An annual was a very popular present – Girls Own, Playbox, Mickey Mouse and Bobby Bear. A child’s Christmas stocking would contain an apple, an orange, a sixpence, and only small items. An orange would be an exciting and seasonal gift, as oranges were only seen at Christmas.
Christmas decorations go up in the shops just days before Christmas. Everyone would have holly and mistletoe in the house, but not necessarily a Christmas tree – these were often in public places. People would make paper chains by hand, and put them up one or two days before and they would be very dusty by Twelfth Night when they had to be taken down. The week before Christmas, children would collect pocket money by carol singing.
Carols would be sung all the way through for ld which meant a lot in those days. In the big houses children would be invited in, given mince pies, and ordered to sing in the drawing room.
Christmas baking, of course, started long before the rest of the festivities. Christmas cake, pudding and pickles would all be made at home, the ingredients being paid for gradually through a Christmas club at the grocers, as well as the turkey, goose or chicken and the great Christmas ham.
RECIPE FOR CHRISTMAS PUDDING
Currants, sultanas raisins
Candied peel, bought uncut
Carrot (finely grated)
Suet (bought from the butchers and grated at home)
Cook for about 8 hours (never mind the steam!) 3d or 6d pieces would be put in the pudding for luck. Everyone would take part in the preparation of the puddings which would take place on ‘Stir-up-Sunday’, three Sundays before Advent. Everyone would wish as they stirred.
Many more people would go to Church on Christmas morning than do nowadays, but Mothers would be needed at home to cook.
Reproduced from ‘Reflections of Old Timsbury’ by kind permission of The Cheshire Home.