My early memories of Christmas with Dad largely involve long slow drives to visit my grandparents in Dad's beloved Morris Traveller (even in the 1970s, a wooden car was something of an oddity). From my (imperfect) memory, we alternated between visiting mum's mother and sister in deepest Norfolk (which gave rise to the seminal carol "O Little Town of Tittleshall", while we were stuck behind a particularly slow and impassable sugar beet lorry) and visiting Dad's parents in Hull, and later North Wales. After my parents divorced, I'd tend to spend Christmas Day with mum, but in keeping with the efforts they both made, along with Rosemary, to maintain a good relationship, I would see plenty of Mike, Rosemary, Kate and Penny during the holiday season.
After I had a young family of my own, we spent a few Christmases with Mike and Rosemary, some of which are recorded in film. We spent a moderately challenging Christmas in Lewes when Kirsty and Eloise were small. The company was great, but pretty much everyone had the lurgy, which dampened the mood. Characteristically, Dad felt that the situation was capable of improvement through music (and a glass of something strong) and there are a couple of nice photos (including Kirsty somewhat bizarrely 'playing' Father Christmas. The other photo is from the Christmas after Penny died. I think we felt that there would be strength in numbers after such a difficult year, and we all gathered at our house in Finsbury Park, getting out and about for some fresh air in the morning.
Alongside his capacity for hard (and brilliant) work, Dad had a hedonistic streak and memories of Christmas times with Mike are full of food, drink, love and laughter (generally followed by falling asleep in front of the telly, as we got older). A silly memory was when Dad was making a complete mess of reading out the Quiz of the Year. (or some such) First Rosemary and then Judith (both of whom take this sort of this thing seriously) took it in turns to lambast his abysmal efforts as family quizmaster. Speaking before thinking, I found myself saying "I bet you're glad you only had the two wives, dad", which I'm relieved to say all parties took in good heart.
Will be thinking of you a lot tomorrow, Dad. Happy Christmas. x