Blethers and blahs

Random ramblings from a chaotic life

Happy 2012

on January 1, 2012

As the song goes …

A guid New Year to ane an’ a’
An’ mony may ye see,
An’ during a’ the years to come,
O happy may ye be.

I wish for you all that you would wish for yourself, not least good health, happiness and the capturing of some wonderful memories.  I am sure that the years are passing faster, though the year ahead will be with us for a day longer as it is a leap year.  I know that this notion is probably just a result of me getting older but I really wish it would all slow down, just a little.

The past few weeks in particular have absolutely flown by between Christmas Day, spent quietly at home, Boxing Day spent with my children, grandchildren and way too much discarded wrapping paper, a day or so of tidying and trying to restore order swiftly followed by the boy’s 5th birthday, and more present wrapping/unwrapping.  Then a trip to see the Singing Kettle, another run round the shops during which I lost my glasses and almost the last of my patience, a visit to my baby boy which resulted in making his bed with him – literally (once we found the screws and bolts that is),  2 trips to the local recycling centre and a final clean, dust, hoover, wash windows, change beds, tidy cupboards at home in preparation for the New Year and here we are – exhausted but happy.

Many of the old traditions associated with Hogmanay and Ne’er Day are long gone but I hold onto some of them and have instilled them in my children and starting the year the way you mean to go on is a key one and that means a clean house, food in the cupboards and money in your pocket.  Even my OH who is from South Africa now just goes along with me as he knows how important to me it is.  I haven’t stayed up for the bells for a few years now but my children do and they still have a window and an outside door slightly open at midnight to let the old year out and the new one in.  I feel as though these small things tie me to my roots.  Speaking of roots I watched the film ‘The Quiet Man’ the other day and it still reminds me of my grandparents and the way the fought and argued, almost for the sake of it, but were inseparable and devoted to each other probably as a result of all the hurdles they had had to overcome during their lives.   There is something about this time of year that invokes stronger memories than normal.

For the year ahead I am going to try and join in with Sian’s storytelling Sunday.  This week’s story has to be about Maisie and Jock, my grandparents.

unknown lady, Jock, Maisie, unknown lady

This is the only photo I have of them both together and I have very few photos of my grandfather at all.  They were so different to each other.  He was tall and thin, she was short and round, he was Catholic and she was Protestant, he was laid back and she was fiery but, to me, they fitted together so well.  Life was very hard, they were poor and well paying work wasn’t always easy to come by.  They had nine children in total though only five survived to adulthood.  What I remember most about them though is that their family was the centre of everything for them and they loved us all absolutely and without judgement, regardless of the path that life took us on.  I think it was because of their religious differences, which would have been a huge hurdle due to the times and places they lived,  that they accepted everyone for who they were.  My mother often spoke of my grandfather befriending coloured people he met and bringing them home in an area where no coloured people lived and which was a place of narrow minds and small worlds.  These two people instilled in me a lasting respect for people’s differences and uniqueness and for that I will always be grateful.

To get back to the story, well it’s not really one story but a combination of little bits of story that took place on the same day every year, January 1st.  My mother and her 4 sisters, their partners, my grandmothers brothers and sisters and their partners, all the respective children and several family friends who were honorary aunts and uncles all congregated at my grandparents house on January 1st each year.  This made for a rather large number of people squeezed into a tiny wee house but we all fitted somehow and spending hours in the large cupboard under the stairs seemed more like an adventure than a hardship.  The first guest was usually Uncle George, my grandmother’s youngest brother.  He was such a quiet, gentle man, who had never married and who had a lovely sing song voice.  This was followed by what used to seem like bus loads of people and may well have been as few of us had cars.  Dinner was in sittings and was always home made soup, followed by stew, which included stewed sausages, pie paste (a puff pastry crust) with tatties and dumplings and then home made clootie dumpling and either cream or custard.  The dumpling is a fruit pudding which was mixed and  boiled in a white cotton pillowcase and then dried off in the oven.  My granny or Mum as we called her must have been cooking for hours beforehand but she never seemed stressed or harassed  and everyone got fed, regardless of how many folk had turned up, no one was ever turned away.

Once the food was over and the kitchen ‘red up’ (tidied) for the next meal the singing began.  All the adults had their own song and although it would have been nice to sing along sometimes the call was always ‘one singer, one song’ which meant that only one person sang at any one time.  For the life of me I cannot remember what song either of them sung but I do remember others.  Cousins Walter and Robert always sang ‘You take the High Road’, my Aunt Gina sang ‘Cigarettes and Whisky and Wild, Wild Women’,  Uncle George sang ‘The Northern Lights of Old Aberdeen’  and someone, I think it was my Aunt Jean sang ‘I’m Nobody’s Child’ though that could be wrong as she also sang ‘Nobody loves me, everybody hates me, I think I’ll go and eat worms!’  Fun times and happy memories.  There was always copious amounts of alcohol consumed, huge amounts of food but never a cross word was heard.  We always went home to our own houses though it was usually very late at night and I don’t remember there ever being any problems about whose turn it was to wash up or being given a row for making too much noise playing.  I like the think that it’s because that’s how it was and not just me remembering things in a rosy way.

If you have made it this far, thank you and I hope that this hasn’t put you off popping back again sometime.  I wish you and our family a happy Ne’erday and a wonderful year ahead.

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18 responses to “Happy 2012

  1. Mary B says:

    Such lovely memories and it provoked some in me too I used to recite Christopher Robin is saying his Prayers and Chin Chin Chinaman at most family gatherings.

  2. Sian says:

    What an absolute pleasure it is to have you with us today! Thank you so much for joining in. There is so much I love about this story I hardly know where to start – I love how it is woven around that one photo you have and yet all the details of the food and the love and the welcome are all there too. It’s perfect. I’m going to read it again!

    A Happy New Year to you – and I’m hoping already that you will join us again next month.

  3. Uncle Dave says:

    So great that you joined in!

  4. Uncle Dave says:

    Sorry to comment twice, but I wanted to come back and say ” An a gie guid New Year tae yin an aw, forbye”, which is what you might have heard here in the old days. 🙂

  5. We used to have family gatherings like that too and I commented to my mum this christmas that I wish I had asked my Gramps (who as a chef was always in charge in the kitchen) managed to cook so much food in one tiny oven and it all be hot at the same time. Love your storytelling thank you for sharing it x

  6. Awwww, what a lovely family gathering that sounds like.
    I’m like you, I like the house tidy & ready to welcome in the new year, everything in its place, food in the cupboards etc, though I have to admit, this is the first year I havent managed to have it spotless, its been a busy ol week.

  7. Becca says:

    What lovely memories of your family’s New Years Day gatherings!

  8. Irene says:

    So lovely to wander down memory lane. Our family always sang songs too and I am pleased to say that the younger generation has taken up the mantle and my daughter has started playing the piano again so we can sing songs like ‘roll out the barrel’!! Thank you for your story and a very Happy New Year.

  9. Kirsty says:

    Oooh, this is a lovely story – you’ve shared so much tradition, atmosphere and detail – it sounds like a really lovely way to celebrate the New Year. I love the photo too.

    Happy New Year!

  10. Jennie Hart says:

    How lovely and evocative and how much nicer than standing in the cold with hundreds of strangers watching fireworks 🙂

    Happy New Year.

  11. What a lovely collection of memories. Food, music and stories are always a great mixture.

  12. Jane says:

    I love this story, it puts us all to shame, people had so little then but still enjoyed themselves. I look forward to reading more x

  13. Gail says:

    What a lovely story. It reminds me of when my Mum’s family (the Scottish side of my family) used to get together for holidays. Looking forward to your story next month. Happy New Year.

  14. Beverly says:

    I could picture everyone arriving, an overload of people at the tables and the gathering of the singers. We would have had to provide ear plugs if my family had had that tradition but it’s lovely. Happy New Year!

  15. furrypig says:

    thanks for visiting my blog, I loved your story and the memories brought to life are you Scottish? Happy New Year

  16. Alison says:

    You have brought back so many memories for me…you obviously hail from the same part of the world as me…’Nobody’s Child’ was always a favourite and my dad always sang’A Scottish Soldier’….thanks for stopping by my Blog
    Alison xx

  17. angelfish says:

    What wonderful memories to have of New Year. I love the picture of family you have conjured up.

  18. Amy says:

    Welcome to Storytelling Sunday! Thank you for sharing such a wonderful story full of delicious memories, I can practically taste the clootie dumpling from here! Hope to see you next month, Happy New Years 🙂 xXx

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