Memories of Christmas divide into different ‘eras’:
My childhood memories – the excitement of Christmas Eve and then waking up, finding the full Christmas stocking at the end of my bed. Not the ‘ready-made’ Christmas stockings you can buy these days, but one of my Mum’s old nylon stockings (or was it rayon – or even lisle?). One of my most-used gifts was a thick exercise book which I got when I was about eight. I wrote my early stories in that book – in pencil, so I could rub them out and start another story when I ran out of space. I filled every millimetre of space in that book – several times over!
Teenage memories – for several years, family friends came on either Christmas Day evening or the next evening (called Boxing Day over here). As a change from turkey sandwiches, my Mum used to make a huge meat and potato pie for supper, enough to feed about twelve of us. One Christmas Day thick fog descended and the friends were unable to get to our house. So after Christmas, in addition to eating up the left-over turkey, we were also eating up all the meat and potato pie until we truly never wanted to see (or eat) pie again!
Then came the era when my daughters were young. They had ‘real’ stockings too, and I spent hours wrapping everything up individually. One year they both had dolls’ houses which I ‘decorated’ for them using scraps of carpet, linoleum and curtains etc to match the real ones in our house. It was the winter of 1973 when we were having repeated power cuts due to the global energy crisis and various industrial disputes, and I remember trying to sew tiny curtains by candlelight!
The girls grew up and wanted to be off out with their friends once Christmas Dinner was over. I was left to entertain my aging parents which wasn’t very difficult as they both tended to fall asleep soon after the early evening news on TV.
Then came the grandchildren – and back to the joys of kids’ toys again. My younger grandson was into ‘making things’ when he was five or six – card models of fairgrounds or shops or houses etc. He’d had a minor frustrated tantrum a few weeks before Christmas when he couldn’t find any split pins for a model he was making. So I got him a small plastic tool box and filled it with ‘crafty’ type bits and pieces, all wrapped separately, and including a box of split pins. When he opened it, he ran excitedly to the kitchen to show his Dad. “This is the bestest present I’ve EVER had,” he shouted. So much for all the other expensive toys he received!
Hope you all get the ‘bestest’ present too – the simple pleasure of being with family and friends over the festive season.
My very best wishes to you all for a very happy Christmas.