I know, it is Boxing Day and you’re surprised to find me here, but when I was growing up Boxing Day was always a day for doing things, not for sitting around and continuing to digest the Christmas turkey.
This was particularly so if Gran and Grandad were staying with us, which they did most Christmases. Grandad always liked to go and visit MFI on Boxing Day (or, at least, this was how it seemed), and this meant a long journey to Birmingham in his van.
In those days, MFI was like Ikea is today, a warehouse which you walked around in order to choose what you wanted, before going to a counter to order the flat packed version to take home with you. It was pretty long lasting, too – the desk I was bought one year lasted over fifteen years and only had to be disposed of when it got damp whilst being stored when Helen and I moved from Manchester to London.
On other occasions, when there was no pressing need to buy furniture, we would go into town to the big park there, Jephson Gardens. This made the day a bit more like a regular Sunday, as the drive home would involve a trip up a deserted main street (the shops didn’t open on Boxing Day normally) and a wistful look at the only open place, McDonald’s*
The one constant of Boxing Day would be that there would always be at least one present saved for each of us to open that day. These would be produced with great ceremony from the white suitcase which Gran used to bring every time she visited.
In time, we also developed another tradition, which was that the main meal on Boxing Day would be roast beef. Now, you might think that one roast meal a week was enough, but it clearly wasn’t for us. The problem was that Karen didn’t really like turkey and the rest of us were not as big a fan of it as we were of other roasts, so having her favourite – beef – the following day was an acceptable compromise, both to my biggest little sister and the rest of the family. It was, in truth, better than a visit to the golden arches could ever have been.