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The Syson's of Cossall
Richard Syson - Christmas
Carole Dick from Alberta, Canada would like to know more about the Sysons

Christmas in our home always started 3 to 5 weeks before. First, there would be the pig to kill and that was a great time. a momentous affair having the pig killed. When the day arrived the pig killer came on the scene with all his appliances and if it happened to be a school holiday, then all the small boys with a sprinkling of little girls of the neighbourhood would gather to have fun, they would laugh and talk all the time the butcher was working on the pig (the pig pen was a clean one, built of bricks, was warm and was as good and better than lots of houses out here in Canada.

The boy who was going to have the bladder, was looked up to as the hero, for when it was dried and blown up; then they would play football with it, "And its my bladder" he would say. When the killing was done and the pig cut up; and the sides put on the stone slabs to be salted and called flitches of bacon, afterwards to be hung up on the walls. How we as children used to enjoy such scenes.

Well there was a custom in our neighbourhood when a pig was killed to send a fry as it was called to friends and relatives (kind of Potluck) The liver and kidneys were cut up and a little of each was put upon a plate; sometimes with a little sausage meat, covered with what is called the curtain. And then the REAL Christmas began.

The women would make pork pies and mince pies, the pans were taken down from the top shelves, scoured and cleaned. The meat was cut and chopped and made ready. The children were all ready to give a hand and to be a nuisance in the way of the cook. How we used to enjoy watching the pastry being made, and the mince meat, with its fruits and spices all sizes of pork pies but all around from 2 inches high to 6 inches. And 2" to 4" across. Nothing like a good English Pork Pie for supper at Christmas. The mincemeat pies made in patty pans, scores of them made to be ready for the Christmas holiday. Then the plum puddings older they got the better, they were made for Christmas and some put away for Easter. We all used to stir the ingredients while it was being made, we really enjoyed it and always got a taste for helping. And then we had to wait in anticipation for 3 to 4 weeks to eat all the good things in store.

Christmas Eve, we were always ready for bed, stockings hung, and tried to get to sleep as soon as we could. Downstairs and an older sister would decorate a piece of holly with all kinds of toys, we never had a big tree like in Canada. We never knew of a big Christmas tree anywhere, just a bunch of holly. Then we had a piece of mistletoe near the door for kissing under.

First dawn of day saw us up and looking to see what we had in our stockings, then a tramping downstairs for breakfast. In my home Christmas day was kept same as Sunday. After breakfast and general rejoicing we attended Church services. My parents had been brought up in the High Church of the Church of England. We never missed Christmas day service for years.

By the time we got home the meal of the day was ready, table filled with all the good things that had been prepared, the table not only filled on its surface but all around it for we used to have quite a lot of company at Christmas time. Uncles, Aunts and cousins galore. It was always the day after Christmas day that we kept as a holiday.