Having exorcised my terrible memories of Christmas Day with my maternal grandparents, it is only fair to mention what Boxing Day with them was like, too.
Essentially, December 26th always featured three things. The first would be a walk around the big local park, Jephson Gardens. There would be mandatory feeding of the ducks, some time spent looking at the poor birds which were kept in a rather small aviary, and a pause to admire the Czech Memorial Fountain (the Czech Free Army was based in the town during the Second World War) before all leaping into Grandad’s van to drive back home. In later years, the route would take us past the local McDonald’s, which would be the only thing open in the town and which, to my disappointment, we would never stop to visit (but oh how little I knew then!).
The second event would be a trip to MFI, which always started their sale on Boxing Day. In those days, MFI was like a cross between Ikea and Argos. You walked around looking at the various items of furniture. If you wanted something, you filled out a slip with the code number and then went to the till to pay for it. You then went to another part of the store where, after a wait of a few decades, someone would present you with the flat pack version of what you had ordered.
Finally, there would be the ritual of the Boxing Day Present. Gran would always have one more present which she had saved from Christmas Day, as it would be bad for us to have all of our presents at once – by which logic we should have had a gift a day throughout the year and no more than that on December 25th. The gifts – often a book or a board game, in an unsubtle nod to her desire for us all to sit down and shut up – would be solemnly produced from her suitcase (an old fashioned white one) and handed over. At which point we would all thank her profusely and then go back to screaming and bouncing our way around the house as usual.