Welcome to the rewind of the series from 2018 which features not only the food and traditions of Christmas but also some special guests who it would be lovely to share Christmas dinner with in person. In the series my guests shared their best Christmas gift ever…and there will be food including from our resident foodie Carol Taylor, my favourite drinks for the holidays, and of course music to get you into the spirit of the season..
Unfortunately with social distancing, this flash mob from 2010 will not be repeated this year.. but thank goodness for YouTube.
My Christmas Memories
After my time temping at the insurance agency which had been an interesting experience of time management it was good pay and with still two weeks to Christmas I was keen to keep the money coming in. The temp agency contacted me and asked me if I would accept a two week contract that had been turned down by some of their regular temps due to the nature of the work.
It was for a receptionist/secretary at a large local funeral directors. Obviously many temps felt that at this festive time of year there might be little cheer to be had in such an establishment…. To be honest I was happy to have another two weeks work and on the Monday morning I turned up suitably attired in my most sombre outfit and rang the bell. A very nice lady showed me the ropes and gave me the guided tour of the public areas, explaining that only those involved in the actual process of preparing the deceased were allowed into certain areas. That was quite comforting I can tell you.
I had little contact with the public for the first couple of days as I settled into the routine but dealt with several enquiries by phone. The firm was an old established company and the two directors were brothers if I remember rightly. Eventually, after I had been properly versed on the etiquette involved, I was allowed to meet the general public. Of course the majority of these people were loved ones and family of those who had entered the building by the rear entrance.
This was my first real contact with the process of dying and I was heartened by the approach by all the members of staff publicly and privately behind the scenes. It was absolutely essential at all times to show respect for the deceased and their families, and I must say, I did find it hard at first to be natural but also sympathetic, with those that came to pay their last respects.
The other rule was to keep visiting families separate, and to this end there were two waiting rooms, and appointments made so that there were no log jams or queues. I would also escort the visitors out after the viewing and confirm final arrangements with them. This required a level of delicacy that was great training for me for jobs that I went onto in later years, and I actually enjoyed that part of the process where I felt I could help these grieving people.
At the end of the two weeks it was Christmas Eve, and since there would not be any funerals over the Christmas week, all the staff gathered in the office for sherry and mince pies. Everyone was very friendly and I had honestly enjoyed my time there. In fact they were happy too, and one of the directors asked if I would like to stay on full-time. I actually was considering this carefully during the party. I loved my job in Wales but Portsmouth was my home and I had missed my own family and friends. However, whilst pondering my future the doorbell rang and I offered to answer it.
I opened the door to find a tiny old man with a walking stick standing on the door step in the lightly falling snow. He had tears running down his face, and as I ushered him in he took my hand and simply said “Can you bury my dear wife for me love”. Luckily one of the directors had come through and stepped in to take the old man through to a waiting room. I was in bits and after composing myself in the ladies I gave my apologies and said that I would not be accepting their kind offer….
And if I had accepted their offer then I would have never have met my husband in Wales later in 1980!