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I mentioned in a previous post that my Dad, a sales manager for a paper and cardboard wholesaler, used to receive Christmas gifts from customers.  One of them made Christmas Crackers or Bon-Bons as we knew them.  Christmas crackers come in various price ranges.  Most of those that we used to see in the shops were fairly modestly priced.  They were bright and pretty on the Christmas dinner table.

Christmas Crackers (Bob-bons)

Christmas Crackers (Bob-bons)

They had a ‘snap’ inside, so we would all hold an end of each other’s cracker and try to pull them simultaneously – the room would resound with staccato cracks and bangs, the smell of whatever it was that exploded (gun-powder I expect), and cries of “Oh no, I lost my grip”.  Then a few loan cracks. Sometimes the snap would get pulled out of the cracker without exploding.  Then we could hold it in a candle and watch the flare.

We weren’t allowed to open the crackers until dessert was finished, but before the cheese and port were served. Our family had it’s rules traditions.

We would rip apart the crackers, unroll the fancy tissue hats.  Everyone was expected to wear one – our great Aunts always joined in.  After the hats we would read out the mottos – lame jokes mostly – or silly quizzes.  Once that was finished we would show everyone what gift we had received in our crackers.  This usually resulted in a lot of exchanging or refusals to swap.

Now the crackers Dad received from his customer were not of the ordinary inexpensive variety.  He was always given boxes of the top-of-the-line products.  Ones we would never have thought about buying.  These were quite large and always beautifully decorated, almost works of art.  The hats actually fit and were of substantial paper so they didn’t split on wearing.  The mottos were – well about the same as the cheap ones I think.  But the little gifts inside were of very nice quality.  Actually worth keeping.  In each of these boxes was one special gift.  A more expensive item.  Often a piece of jewellery.

One year my mother opened her cracker to find a lovely broach.  She was well pleased, and no, she didn’t offer to swap it for a mini pack of playing cards. She wouldn’t even swap it for a tin jumping frog.  These, you pressed together so the underneath was pressed into a soft sticky material.  You set the frog on the table and gradually the sticky lost its grip on frogy’s top half, the frog would spring open and fly up into the air.  Oh the hours of fun we had surprising each other with these.  Beat that iPad!

Anyway, Mum wouldn’t part with her brooch even for one of those frog beauties.

Next day was Boxing Day. Our Boxing Day rule tradition, was for all the family (uncles, aunts, cousins and my Dad’s mum) to come to our house for an afternoon party. The great aunts and Mum’s dad and mum were already with us.

When one of my aunts arrived she was wearing the identical brooch to my mum.  So Mum, without thinking said “Oh, look you had the same Christmas Cracker as me, we both got the brooch!”  With a rather down your nose look, my aunt replied somewhat huffily I thought, “My husband gave me this for Christmas!”.

Did I mention tact and my mum?  No?  There is a reason for that 🙂 Things were a little tense for the next ten minutes.  I often wondered about the conversation between my Aunt and Uncle on their long drive home later that day. 

Families are wonderful, but they can, sometimes, drive you crackers, make you snap, tear your hat and offer some amusing bons mots.

I wonder what this year’s Christmas gathering will bring – I hope your’s, should you celebrate the season, will be a wonderful, loving time of sharing, laughter and joyful tears.

Have a very Happy Christmas everyone, may you be blessed and a blessing this coming year.

Now where did I leave my frog…

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