I can remember one of the great Christmas traditions that our family had when I was growing up. Christmas crackers at my grandfather’s house on Boxing Day. No, not the crackers that you eat. Those Christmas crackers that are wrapped up, with a snapping stick thing sticking out of each end. You held one end, and got someone else to hold the other, and then you pulled, and most times you heard a loud popping noise. Then you’d open up the package and see what was inside.
Even as a kid, I remember the adults mentioning that the “prizes” inside were getting cheaper and cheaper. You always got a brightly-coloured paper crown hat to wear. (I think I still have a picture somewhere of Grampy wearing his, and a huge grin on his face) You always got a joke, or riddle. And then you got some tiny toy, or something interesting. I can remember a puzzle, a large rubber fly, tiny magnifying glass… they were never extravagant items, but they were something to keep the interest of the kids.
Well… the times are certainly changing…
We had Christmas crackers when the kids were out a couple of weeks ago. They look like the ones that I remember from when I went to my grandfather’s. The popping thing is a little different now. Instead of pulling the end of the little stick, the stick is now glued to the inside edge, so you press your thumb against it and pull. And inside, you still have the coloured hats, and not-so-funny jokes. But the biggest change is the toy prize.
My 6 year old was the first to get his open (of course). He held a tiny little plastic bag in his hand and said “Is this all I get?” The bag held about 6 tiny rubber bands. Wow. Then I opened mine. A hair elastic? Like I need one of those. What happened to the fun stuff? You don’t have to spend a fortune to put a decent toy in there. A hair elastic??? Not even a scrunchy. A hair elastic! I can picture a factory worker
A couple of years ago my mother made her own Christmas crackers. I really think that’s the way to go.