Having all the grandchildren with us yesterday afternoon reminded me of Boxing Days when I was a child. My brother and I, along with our mother (and father, if he was not at sea), and our six local cousins and their parents (except Uncle John when he was at sea, both he and my father being in the Navy), would go to Nan and Pop's house, they being my maternal grandparents. This house was a Victorian terraced house with a large front room (only used for special occasions like Christmas), a morning room, a breakfast room (which Nan and Pop used as a living room and called the kitchen) and a kitchen (which Nan and Pop called the scullery). Pop would have used some sort of adaptor in the central light in the ‘kitchen' to run fairy lights across the room. It must have been horribly dangerous, but there were never any accidents. There was no way we could all sit at the table for tea but I can't remember what we did. I do recall that at some stage in the afternoon/evening we would all gather in the front room where Nan would play the piano while we all sang carols. Each of the children had to perform a party piece before being given his/her Christmas present from Nan and Pop.
I do remember being very scared on one occasion. Two of my uncles are only ten or twelve years older than me and they loved to play tricks on their nephews and nieces. The year I have in mind was the one when they decided we would play aeroplanes. This involved each child being blindfolded in turn and led into the morning room where the uncles were waiting. The child would be seated on a chair, which the uncles proceeded to lift into the air and wobble about slightly. When our heads hit the ‘ceiling' we were told the plane was crashing and we had to jump. Of course, we were only about three inches from the floor really, but we thought we really had hit the ceiling. On another occasion we were allowed to feel ‘Nelson's eye'. The story was that an ancestor was serving with Nelson when he lost one of his eyes. Our ancestor picked it up and kept it. It had to be kept in complete darkness in a bag to prevent it from rotting, but as a treat we could put our hands into the bag and feel the eye - a peeled grape!