Abbeyfield Wessex Festive Tea and Memories

Festive Tea and Memories with our residents and friends from over the years

This year, in 2022, we were delighted to welcome back our Tea and Memories.  Our Houses open our doors and welcome our friends and neighbours in our communities to view archive footage over a cup of tea (or coffee), reminisce, spark conversation and swap stories.  This past couple of weeks we have been sharing memories on Christmas past and what the festive season meant for so many over the years.

Christmas Memories in 1940s and 1950s

Some of our residents and friends could remember life and times during the 1940s and 1950s when the world was recovering from the awfulness of World War II.  

We recalled how Christmas began on Christmas Eve when the tree was put up and decorated and the children's stockings were left at the end of their beds.  This was mainly for the mum and dad to buy extra time asleep before the big day commenced!  (Though, we don't suppose, much has changed with this). 

Presents were cuddly toys, fruit and simple toys.  Maybe some new woollen socks as well.

Lunch depended on what mum could find and buy.  Normally, a roasted chicken was served with home grown vegetables.  Some houses had a scullery, which was like a utility room at the back of the kitchen.  This is where the fire was lit and a boiling pan was placed above with the Christmas pudding boiling away for at least five hours in readiness to be served.  

These were happy times as the War was over and families could be back together again after so long.  However, money was very tight and rationing was still in use, until 1954, with items still difficult to purchase after this date.


Christmas Memories moving from 1950s to 1960s

Tea and Memories moved on to the 1950s and the new decade of the 1960s where tradition had not changed so much.   However, decorations went up a bit earlier in December with many memories of families getting creative making paper chains and lanterns to be hung up in the family home.  Some household items were being introduced - such as a black and white television to join the radio, washing machine appliance and an oven.  The new Queen Elizabeth gave her Christmas Day addresses with people eagerly listening - or watching on their new TV sets - to her review of the year.  Attending a church service - whether it was Midnight Mass or communion on Christmas Day Morning - was still important for families.  

Lunch was still not too varied with turkey very much a luxury.  Roast chicken was still served with home grown vegetables followed by Christmas pudding.  The Christmas puddings were never shop bought but home made by mother.  A frequent memory of someone crunching on the three penny bit put into the pudding for luck!


Christmas Memories in the 1960s and into the 1970s

As the decades moved forwards, life gradually moved towards more convenience - whether these were appliances or food.  Mums were starting to go out to work and the family dynamics were changing.  Teenagers were coming into their own and pop music was becoming important.  Who would be the Christmas number one this year!  (The Beatles had their first Christmas number one in 1963 with 'I Want to Hold Your Hand', for example). 

Decorations became more mass produced as the 1960s moved on and were more likely to be bought in shops and very colourful.  Artificial Christmas trees were bought and put up earlier than before during the month of December.  Christmas gifts were changing too.  There were more games and dolls to be bought.  In 1977, Star Wars toys were the most widely given in the UK!  Television sets became more available and we remembered television specials, such as Morecambe and Wise and The Two Ronnies. 

But family games and togetherness continued as it has always done


We hope you enjoyed our Festive Tea and Memories, from the 1940s to the 1970s.  It's clear that over the forty years there were enormous changes in the UK, both politically, economically and through technology.  However, it was a pleasure to share conversation and reminiscences during these times.  

Every month, our Houses host a Tea and Memories for residents, friends, neighbours and within our local communities.  We choose a different subject each time and enjoy to hear everyone's memories.  We understand how important it is to share conversations together and keep memories alive.