From 1946 until the early 50’s ration books were still having to be used and parents worked very hard to ensure that the family had a special time at Christmas. Most mothers would save up the family ration coupons and make the traditional Christmas puddings and pies. Christmas dinner was usually rabbit; some were home-reared or if not they would be bought from Mr. Bill Knight. The best buy was the Flemish Giant as it had more meat on it. Vegetables were plentiful in the local villages as most were home grown. In the evening people would gather at various houses for a sing-song and a drink. A flagon of very strong cider was often provided by Mr. French and the young lads would try and sneak some out to the garden shed to try it. Some of the local farmers such as Mr. L. Doubleday would provide a chicken for their workers. Mr. G. H. Dean of Smeed & Dean provided his workers with a hamper.
On Christmas Eve stockings would be hung on the bedposts and these would be filled with an orange (just beginning to be plentiful), an apple, a few nuts and hopefully a few pennies. Due to the clothes rationing and shortage of materials presents were generally of the useful kind, socks, handkerchiefs, something knitted and often two sizes too big, (you will grow into it dear). Depending on how affluent the household, some children would receive fret saws and possibly a Meccano set. Girls would receive a doll, books, perhaps a knitted jumper, clothing etc. Many of the toys were hand-made. The most coveted present was, and in many cases still is, a bicycle. Mum wanted a refrigerator. Dad a car. All shops closed Christmas and Boxing Day. Many farm labourers took a week’s holiday at this time due to the winter season and lack of work.
1946 BBC Television restarted. Bananas started appearing in shops.
1947 Whale Meat in the shops. The New Look fashion came in.
1948 Canned Snoek, a South African fish on sale in the UK. (People would not eat this.) The Olympic Games held in Britain.
1949 Sweet ration cut to 4 oz (115g). Clothes rationing ended.
1950 Korean War. Sainsbury’s opened first self service store in Croydon.
1951 Average meat ration 4 oz.(115g) (But chicken, rabbit and pigeons were available).
1952 Tea rationing ended. Birds Eye started quick freezing peas.
1953 The Coronation. Great floods in Britain. Eggs and Sugar no longer rationed. Cream became available. End of sweet rationing.
1954 Butter and other fats no longer rationed. Meat no longer rationed. The end of Ration Books.
In spite of the shortages, the hard work, rebuilding of family life after the war, Christmas still had a magic touch for many.