Whenever I think of my childhood Christmases, one of the first things that springs to mind is my Uncle Jim’s washing up. Now you have to understand that my Uncle Jim was a creature of habit and fastidiously clean. No one else in his house was allowed to do the washing up because no one else could be trusted to do it properly. He would prepare two bowls of boiling hot water – one with detergent for washing and one without for rinsing. Each piece of crockery and each item of cutlery would be carefully and individually washed and then placed in a rack to drip dry. The idea of using a tea towel to speed up this process was anathema to my Uncle – that would simply replace the germs that had just been washed off!
Now imagine that there could well be 12 of us sitting around the table for Christmas dinner, and then imagine how long the washing up would take afterwards, and then remember that we were not allowed to sit down and open any presents until it was all done. As a small child, and a very impatient child at the best of times, this waiting seemed like an endless torture. But I suppose the one thing it did teach me is that good things are worth waiting for.