When I was a child, one of our most anticipated Christmas traditions was the opening of the parcel that my great-grandmother sent. Such was the glee with which we anticipated opening this gift, we would save it until last. Due to having a plethora of grandparents (4 grans, 4 grandpas, 2 great-grans, but that’s another story) we called this one Little Granny. Little Granny was my great-grandmother on my mother’s side. She would send a parcel, carefully wrapped in brown paper, all tied up with string and sealed with wax. The sealed wax was fascinating in itself, as it was the only time I had ever seen such a thing, but the real joy lay inside the content of the parcel. The eclectic items inside the box would be carefully labelled to identify whom the gift was for – the only things they had in common was they were either peculiar, baffling or completely useless. There would bits of ribbon, approximately 10cm in length, a tin full of bits to fix your suspenders (given to me, aged 11), foul smelling drawer potpourri’s, half a pound of sausages or, my personal favourite, a box of chocolates with all the best ones already eaten.
And the fun didn’t stop there. Unbeknown to me, at least in my formative years, Little Granny was a bit of vicious old bat with a terrible temper. If we didn’t send her a thank-you letter by return of post for her sumptuous gifts she would write us a letter containing a tirade of abuse, telling us what spoiled and ungrateful children we were . My mother intercepted these letters but I saw one once and can remember the shock of reading such bile coming from a seemingly genial little old lady. I later learned that my Grandmother had intercepted exactly the same sort of letters to my mother when she was growing up.
We missed those parcels after she’d gone though and when my extended family get together we often re-tell our ‘Little Granny stories’ for the younger generation. Relatives like this are the stuff of Family Legend and should be treasured.