Mary, my grandmother's housekeeper had Christmas Day off to share with her family so much preparation occurred on the day before. I loved to be at Nan's house on Christmas Eve. Nan had a large kitchen with a large pantry off the side. Her stove was a fancy American item, with two ovens and eight hot plates, cream enamel and side by side. Her sink was also china, white and deep - no dishwashers in those days!
We did not have turkey, I don't know if turkey was even available in 1950s Brisbane but do remember in later years my grandmother saying she did not like turkey so maybe it was and Nan didn't like it. Two large - and I mean large - chickens were roasted, with Nan's special stuffing - how I loved her stuffing mixture. A large leg of ham was baked with decoration on it - you know -
So the dinner started at about 1:30 pm with individual seafood cocktails in lovely stemmed glasses - prawns and oysters and my mother's patented seafood sauce. Then out came the ham, chickens, vegetables and gravy. These were placed on the dining room sideboard and then passed around the table. My grandfather was the expert carver and I always wanted a wing from the chicken. My mother & her sister were the ladies who passed everything around and saw that we were all served. Then after the main course as I have already said in a previous post we had Christmas pudding. In those days we had sixpences and threepences in the pudding and strangely I always got one of each in my serve!
Of course we had Christmas bonbons - there had to be crepe paper hats and silly jokes to share. The Christmas table and the sideboard were decorated with sprigs of holly and candles in silver candle holders - each candle holder held 5 candles and there were four of them. The dining room curtains were always closed so we could have candlelight. Strangely I don't remember being hot but it must have been I guess - I certainly enjoyed the cold watermelon later in the afternoon. The table was always covered in a brilliant blue cutwork tablecloth - which I used with my family for many years. At my grandparents Christmas table there was usually 12 or 15 people - it was a big table.