Although Christmas wasn't the long period from about 23rd December to 3rd January which it is today, Boxing Day was important when I was a child. Christmas Day was for family - Mother's family at lunchtime, Father's for tea - but Boxing Day was for visiting their friends.
It was the custom when I was a child to address our parents close friends as Auntie or Uncle. My Mother was a member of a group called The Coffee Girls or simply, Les Girls. She was a Coffee Girl until she died aged 89. This group of about eight women and their husbands formed the basis of their social life and one of them, my Auntie Marnie, had a lunchtime party every Boxing Day. She invited all Les Girls and their families and it was a wonderful party. It was an excuse for wearing newly acquired clothes but for me it was also an opportunity to top up my piggy bank. I had quite a sweet voice when I was little and I was always invited to sing a couple of carols for which I would be richly paid.
After we left this party we would visit various elderly friends, most of whom had no younger family to visit them. It is only as an adult that I have understood that we brought our childhood excitement with us and were probably a Christmas highlight for them. Even now I am planning my visits to a few older friends for later this week and as I write this I have realised that I am carrying on that childhood tradition and honouring my parents understanding that there are those for whom visits by others are one of the most important Christmas gifts they receive.
Then we would be off home to start writing thank you letters.