Barbara and Jean, who live at Evington Home in Leicester, share their Christmas memories

“I can remember being a young girl and pretending to be asleep when my Dad brought my Christmas stocking into my bedroom. I don’t know if he knew that I was pretending! ‘Big’ presents couldn’t be opened until after the washing up was finished after dinner. I remember one Christmas, my ‘big’ present was a doll’s pram. That was very special.

We always had relations to visit and I remember one year, not long after the end of the War, mum had been given a cookery book. In it was the instructions to make a large bun with a decoration of a swan made of icing on the top. Well this bun became a bit of a family joke because… let’s just say it didn’t resemble a swan very much!

“Later when I was a young woman working at Torch (a charity supporting those with sight loss), I was put in charge of the pantomime! One year we did Snow White and the Seven Dwarves and I had each of the ‘dwarves’ come on and introduce themselves so the audience could follow who was talking and what was going on.

“The pantomime was quite a big job and often I was writing out the lines for the end of the play hours before we were due to start!”
Barbara, age 89

Actual Christmas Day was quite quiet really because my father didn’t believe in pretending that there was a Father Christmas who would come into the bedrooms and leave presents. We were told that we had been given presents but that we were not to open them until Christmas Day. We had a Christmas tree that had baubles on it and the presents were handed to us on Christmas Day. My father knew I would be frightened if I thought that someone crept into my bedroom while I was asleep, because I was the only one, you see. So I never believed in Father Christmas, I was told who the presents had come from.

“I got a nice number of presents, but it wasn’t over the top, because I was the only one and I believed that I wasn’t to be spoilt. So I think on Christmas Day we had an aunt and uncle round. I used to say, ‘Do we have to have them?’ and was told, ‘Of course we do, they are your Auntie and your Uncle, we have got to have them on Christmas Day.’

“As far as I can remember Christmas dinner was just like a nice Sunday lunch, always chicken, because they couldn’t afford an expensive meat. I looked forward to Christmas but I was brought up not to get too excited about it, because it wasn’t a fairy story, it was just Christmas Day. We were Christians and went to church in the morning on Christmas Day.

“I helped my mother prepare for Christmas, but I wasn’t allowed in the kitchen to get in her way, she just wanted to get on with it. She made the pudding at home, Christmas cake and mince pies, so they were all homemade.”
– Jean, 91

Read more Christmas memories from Evington family members Peter and Rupert