The Giant Christmas Pudding

Until 1991 here in New Zealand we had only one provider of mobile phone services – the mega company, Telecom.  Another provider came onto the scene when BellSouth was introduced.  BellSouth was part of the AT&T Corp and was subsequently purchased by Vodafone.

However, back to those early days.  In a bid to increase market share, BellSouth identified possible users and wooed us with offers of free phones (unheard of in 1991) and the incentive that if we introduced others to the service we would gain 60 free minutes for each one.  At that time, all minutes were charged – no included minutes in the contract.

Well I was one of those wooed in this way.  In fact, I am told by the guy at Vodafone that I was the 26th person to change to BellSouth and only the 4th in Wellington.

Now go back to that first Christmas.  BellSouth treated those of us who were early users,  royally.  Each day for 12 days a courier arrived with a parcel for me.  [Note here – my daughter who worked for me and whose phone we had transferred to BellSouth wasn’t treated in this way.]  Each day the courier would arrive with a big smile and say  “He’s sent you something again today.” And then he’d leave with a smile on his face.

I don’t remember all that I received but things included mince pies, chocolates, packs of cards, a juggling game.  But the piece de resistance was on the day that we closed the office.  The courier arrived with a very large blue box with a golden bow tied around it.  BellSouth’s colours here.  He insisted that I open the box in front of him because he was determined to find out what “he” had sent me on that day.  Mind you the smell of brandy was very strong.  Everybody gathered around me while I opened the box.  And there was without a doubt the biggest Christmas pudding I have ever seen.  It was in the shape of a bell and even though it had no doubt been well soaked in brandy it came complete with a small bottle of brandy.

Luckily I wasn’t stopped on the way home because the car reeked of brandy and I would have had a hard time convincing the cop that it wasn’t me!

Christmas was two days away and as luck would have it both my children were going to be out of town for the holiday.  My dashing young Scotsman and I were going to be on our own, so with another couple, we were going to a local restaurant for Christmas dinner.  We were regulars there and so the owners sent a car for us and then after several hours, organised the same car to take us home.  But that’s a story for another day.

Back to this enormous pudding.  I took it home and we discussed what to do with it.  It was obviously far too large for us and we didn’t have any intention of letting it go to waste.

So early next morning I started ringing around the organisations who help those in need.  Nobody was interested in our pudding.  eventually, at 11.55am I got a hit – yes they would love to have the pudding.  They were closing at 12 noon and could I get it there in time?  No way.  Did they have another suggestion?  The phone was put down while a discussion ensued with somebody else in the office.  When they came back they gave me the address of a family of seven who had little or no money and would no doubt welcome the pudding.  The family lived not far from us and so I took the pudding to them.

I hate the whole “Lady Bountiful” idea and so I just left the big box on top of the letter (mail) box.  Then drove further up the cul-de-sac in order to turn around.  As I went down the road again I heard an excited young voice calling out “Mum I think Santa came early”.  I was so happy to have found a welcome place for my Christmas pudding.

Unfortunately, that was the only year that BellSouth recognised its clients in this way.  But we still talk about the Giant Christmas Pudding.

For those of you not familiar with a Christmas pudding this is a traditional steamed spicy pudding served for dessert on Christmas day.  The web abounds with recipes.  Click here for a favourite.

There are many traditions associated with Christmas puddings.  Growing up mother always put silver threepenny pieces in the pudding – we had to return it for use again next year if we were lucky enough to find one in the pudding.

Another tradition is for everybody in the family to stir the pudding when it’s being made. As they each take a turn to stir, they make a wish. Of course, they mustn’t do it out loud or tell anyone what they wished for otherwise, it won’t come true.

On a silver dish the Christmas pudding reposed in its glory.  A large football of a pudding, a piece of holly stuck in it like a triumphant flag and glorious flames of blue and red rising round it.  There was a cheer and cries of ‘Ooh-ah.’”
The Adventure of the Christmas Pudding’, by Agatha Christie

And I am sorry that I don’t have a picture of the bell-shaped pudding but found this when looking for a picture to use

Christmas pudding

Roger and Valerie Holley put the finishing touches to their giant hedge which they have transformed into a Christmas pudding Photo: SOUTH WEST NEWS

18 responses to “The Giant Christmas Pudding

  1. My mum used to wrap small coins in silver foil to put in the pudding. I don’t really like christmas pudding but would always have a portion at christmas so I didn’t miss out on a coin. 🙂


    • Teh threepenny bits were silver and would have been scrubbed before being put into the pudding. One year we were one short at the end of the day. I wondr who swallowed theirs.


  2. I don’t own a mobile phone or cell phone. Never have. My phone is on my desk. It has wires. I also have stamps and envelopes. Long distance means yelling down the street from the back porch.


    • Well Carl, I was sold on cellphones from the beginning. I found them most useful when I was out of the office for so much of the day. But I do object to those people who never know when to turn the phone off. Mine is left in the car if I am meeting somebody and if I am at home talking with another person and it rings, I let it ring.
      I do have stamps and envelopes but call long distance to each of my sisters. Yelling from the back porch just wouldn’t do it!


  3. That is such a cool story! And a great memory to tell this time of year! I would have never even considered a mobile phone in the early 90’s! I used to work for AT&T and then when that was broken up, American Bell. But I never heard of them ever doing anything like this with customers!


    • My first foray into the world of mobile phones was as far back as 86/87. My husband and I (does that sound like Queen Elizabeth II?) each had a car phone installed. Then I got my first mobile phone that I carried in a box on my shoulder – it really was a brick! When I think of my i-phone and what it can do ….
      BellSouth only did this with very few customers. As I said my daughter was not one of them.


  4. I love this story, Judith! Imagine a business giving away something like that today!



  5. Great story Judith. Glad your were able to share your Christmas cheer 🙂


  6. I enjoyed this story greatly, Judith.Thank you for sharing it with us.


  7. Ohmygosh, I had that same phone waaaay back in the day! I love this story. What a great gift for that family and I’m sure they thought Santa really did bring it. Too cute. Thanks for sharing it and for linking to my blog on holiday traditions.


    • Yes it was waaaay back in the day. I have been over to your blog and I think, if I can find similar ingredients here, the Brownie trifle thingy may be my contribution to Christmas and of course the vodka etc for the White Russian.


  8. And we are all treated so wonderfully by our phone companies, aren’t we! LOL! Great story, Judith.


  9. Your phone picture looks very familiar, I think my first one looked like that. The Christmas pudding hedge is wonderful! I didn’t know what the pudding is like, so thanks for sharing the recipe, and traditions surrounding it. Quite interesting.


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