“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times” Charles Dickens
A Christmas Tale or, “Can I have some Figgy Puddin’, please?”
The year was 1845. I was about ten years of age and working as a stable girl. Our family lived and worked in Lord Hamilton’s manor house. It was Christmas time and as a gift for the servants, the Lord arranged a feast for the staff and their families.
Mommy had the children dressed in their Sunday best. My two brothers were complaining about the stiffness of the shirts. Starch was itchy and could cause rash, especially if one scratched the itch.
I had my favourite dress on and my younger sister was a bit jealous of the red and green colouring. She was wearing a plain blue coloured hand me down.
After all the fuzz and hassle with the wardrobe, the whole family was finally set to go to the main house and start with the Christmas dinner. Us servants would be dining in the large kitchen. Several long tables were brought in with extra seats as well. This wasn’t a large household. With around fifteen servants and their families, well not all had children and spouses, all in all around sixty people in total crammed around the tables. The two cooks had had their hands full with the preparations and naturally every one that could had chipped in.
But now it was time for celebration. Everyone was finally sitting down and getting quiet. After grace the noise level rose again. Food containers were passed around and everyone was filling their respective plates. After all, it wasn’t often we got to eat in this manner and variety.
After a while, everyone had cleared their plates and it was time for dessert. My favourite was the Figgy Pudding. If possible I opted for seconds. As I got my plate of the delicious substance before me, I licked my lips and dug into it with gusto. It did not take too long for the food to disappear from my plate.
My mom looked at me with a smirk. I looked back at her and passing my bowl I asked: “Is there any Figgy Puddin’ left?”
I was smiling widely, feeling exhilarated, when the bowl was passed back to me with an other helping.
When the final bits were eaten, it was time for the traditional sing along. The farmhand brought out his accordion and after the first few tunes, we all joined in. The evening was spent singing, chatting and finally picking up the tables. We all went back to our dwellings, thanking the Lord for the special meal.
Merry Puddin’ and God bless Us Everyone!