Happy Boxing Day, everyone! I have very few photographs from when I was a child but I have managed to find a photo of the family that was taken by my grandmother on a sunny Christmas Day. You can see the balloon decorations in the window! I'm the smallest person in the picture, with a cute hairband. I love my aunt's glamorous 1960s mini kilt and my mother's tartan dress! And the boy with the cat is my cousin Neil who I hero worshipped!
My parents divorced when I was about five and after that I rarely saw my father but I did spend one memorable Christmas with him and his new family when I was about nine years old. My father was the sort of man who might be called a raconteur – he was a great story teller and I often suspected that those stories had received a considerable amount of embroidery and polish. But after my experiences that Christmas I never doubted him again.
On Boxing Day, December 26th, we all set off to drive to the English Lake District for the day. It was beautiful sunny weather, cold but clear, and my father fancied a bracing walk on the Fells. The Boxing Day walk is a British tradition. We arrived in time for lunch at an inn in a village called Ambleside and most of the adults then went off to climb the mountain Scafell (in the photo), leaving me with my step-cousin Wendy and her mother for the afternoon. By the time that they returned some five hours later it was dark and very cold and the beautiful clear day had turned into a snowstorm with huge flakes falling. We set off for home but after about an hour we had barely gone a half mile. Then we drove into a snowdrift and were completely stuck. It got colder and colder. I remember my father wrapping me in a rug before he and his brother in law went off to fetch help. After about three hours we were rescued by a farmer on a tractor who dragged the car out and towed us back to the inn at Ambleside, where they revived us with Scotch Broth soup and mulled wine (very exciting and intoxicating for a nine year old!) The landlady put me to bed in a huge fourposter with a fat mattress and five hot water bottles. And when I got home the next day and my mother asked me how I had got on, I told her it had been the most exciting Boxing Day I had ever known!
Have you had a Christmas experience that didn't quite turn out as planned?
The Word Wenches will be giving away a fantastic prize on January 1st 2011 – a Word Wenches Library containing a book by each of the Wenches! For a chance to win, all you have to do is comment on one or more of our December blog posts. We'll gather the list of names on January 1, 2011 and pick a winner! (If you've already posted in December, you're already entered — comment again for more chances to win!) Good luck to all and Happy Holidays!