The Aunties at New Year

New Year's Eve at Auntie Gin’s house was a regular feature of our year. Auntie Maud would make the mince pies, Auntie Hester the sausage rolls , Auntie Joan the fish paste sandwiches and Auntie Mary would bring the jugs of celery, hoping Auntie Kath hadn’t forgotten the salt and the chutney. Ham was down to Auntie Gin as the host.


The drinks were in the hands of Aunties Jane and Olwen because Aunty Jane made the best snowballs and Aunty Olwen was partial to sweet sherry and had a favourite brand.  The beer was left to Uncle James, but that’s another story, anyway the men would be in the front room and the women in the back, so it didn't matter too much.


Aunties Phil and Marion always gave Auntie Gin help getting the house ready.  It had to be spotless, of course.   Uncle James would get the coal in. They had no further expectations of him  beyond that.  In the meanwhile, Auntie Flo would go up and down the terrace borrowing plates, glasses and cutlery.  


Most years, unless it snowed,  we were up there by 7 pm.  Auntie Elsie said the weather was in the hands of God, so she prayed annually for clement weather.  She wouldn't want to miss it.  Auntie Eva confided that this was because she liked a drink or two.


While the men drank and sang in the front, the aunties would be telling stories in the back. We would grip every one, especially those by Aunties Florence, Elspeth and Agnes.   


But, we never saw the New Year in up there.  As soon as Auntie Gwen had had sufficient snowballs, knocked down with sweet sherry chasers, she would take to the piano.  This was a signal.  Aunties would send around a look and a nod, after which us kids were packed off home.

© Gaynor Kavanagh