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  • Jon Bolitho-Jones

A Festive Special - Part 2

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"Feed your worms. Let them know it's Christmas time!" Wait what?


Anyway hello again, I'm back for another festive blog entry. This is the second part of my Festive Special. The first part was well recieved so if you haven't read that one yet I recommend you head over to the main part of the blog page where you can easily find it. With that let's move on with the sweet/fun/odd traditions that make up a Bolitho-Jones Christmas. Prepare yourself for more very 90s festive pictures.


There's a big part of Christmas that I didn't mention in part 1 which I think I will start with.. Not to sound too consumerist but one thing that really delighted me when I was little (and still does) were the presents. There were two kinds: the presents from family and people we knew, which were placed under the tree on Christmas Eve, and the stocking ones, which were silly little things, and mostly chocolates and soaps, that were provided by Santa while we were asleep. I say asleep but as a tiny person I always struggled immensely getting to sleep. I was too excited. No matter how hard I tried I coudn't nod off. Of course what made it even more stressful was the fact that I knew Santa wouldn't come unless I was asleep. As such a batte of wills would commence as my body forgot how to sleep while I grew steadily more frustrated. One time I even went to bed at about 7pm. Then there was one year where I even wrote a card to Santa. When I awoke it was gone. That was many, many, years ago now – it’s probably been turned into pulp at a North Pole recycling plant.



The tree presents as mentioned were taking down on Christmas Eve and with the help of us kids. Don’t worry we were well behaved and it would be sacrilegious to open them before the day. Thing was this routine just got us more excited as we would check the labels, find ones for us, and then strategically place them, making sure to give then a careful rattle on the way. I can easily recognise the clatter of a box of Lego or Warhammer. I still can, the presents I receive haven’t changed much at all. On the other side of this process I absolutely love getting people presents, though it can also be incredibly serious. I must find the perfect gift, else it will be the end of the world! I’m pretty good at finding nice things for people which is good because my wrapping is not the best. It could be a lot worse, but there is also a lot of room for improvement. Of course one very important job on Christmas morning was to get up early enough to stop my younger brother from opening all his presents before anyone else was awake. He has learnt to be good however and will only open one or two on his own. Normally these end up being DVD box sets and so it is common for these to put on in the background. I remember one Christmas where Matt Smith's first series of Doctor Who was the backing track for all our present opening. The year after was his second series...



Stress of course can be a big part of Christmas. In fact one of the most stressful points tends to be getting dinner ready on the day. We solved this problem by sharing out the jobs and extensively preparing things the night before. I often took charge of the potatoes, and would make my roasties with all seriousness. If my mum took charge of them she would have just plonked Aunt Bessie’s frozen ones in the oven and that would be it. For me I would par boil my potatoes, grab the herbs, and slice up some tiny oranges to help with the flavour, and then watch over them as they cooked like a nurturing parent. You can imagine how grumpy I got when my mum dumped a bunch of parsnips into the tin about halfway through. I hate parsnips so this was a grave offence. Now my sister could be particularly naughty when it came to these preparations – a couple of years she put herself down to boil the frozen peas. A real challenge…

Christmas dinner/lunch/tea usually arrived around 2/3pm. The special festive placemats and kitchenware would emerge from hibernation and be put out along with the crackers. By this point a number of my family members are usually quite merry, having drunk a couple of glasses of whatever during all the cooking. Of course everyone has their favourite dinner item – mine is pigs in blankets. Desserts though I can pass on – all Christmas ones are packed full of raisins, sultanas and currants, all of which are disgusting things. Instead I would make my own. Usually when I have the free time I do a lot of baking on the days leading up to Christmas Day. We all end up putting on a little extra weight because of it.



Once the food is eaten, it’s usually time for people to fall asleep, normally in front of the telly. I wouldn’t though, I would continue to play with my new toys, maybe even put together some of my new Warhammer. One Christmas included my first attempt at the Btatle of Helm's Deep. All the while I would be wearing my paper cracker crown stubbornly, making sure it stayed in one piece. It was a badge of honour, a sign of my commitment that I would carry on the festive spirit to the very last second of the day. For along with loving Christmas I also hated seeing it pass.



Things of course have changed over the years. Not only am I older and in a different part of the country, but people who would usually appear are no longer part of my life. It was tradition for Nana and Grandad to come down for it, but they are gone now. There was even a year when all 4 of my grandparents turned up. You can probably guess how busy it got! Most of the pictures you’ll see were from that year – 1992. Christmas in particular holds a very important place in regards to my Grandad for it was the last time I saw him. I was 18 at the time - my last words to him as they left to go home was “goodbye”. A little something that might pop up in my book somewhere.



Anyway this has ended up a bit sad. I’m upsetting myself whilst writing it. Of course Christmas, like life, changes from year to year. Indeed this 2020 one is going to be very different for almost everyone in the UK. Though people have left there are new people to celebrate it with. I get to have fun with my wife’s family this year. They are getting ready for all the extra festive treats I am going to make. There is also a new generation popping up too – my niece and nephews are adorable and it is going to be wonderful seeing how enchanted they will find Christmas over the years. I know that last year my neice got up at about 5am – she was just too excited! Who knows, it might not be that long until I have my own little one. It sure would be wonderful to introduce them to it all and forming new fun little traditions with them. I’m looking forward to that.


And with that I am almost done. I cannot leave however without mentioning one of the most important parts of Christmas – rampant consumerism! I have caught this festive bug and have my own Winter Promotion. Ebooks are only £1.99, while Paperbacks are 30% off via the link below. A very subtle plug of course…



With that it’s bye for now, Merry Christmas, and I’ll be back soon.

Jon



https://www.troubador.co.uk/bookshop/young-adult/when-the-world-falls-down/



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