On Christmas Eve I insisted that my Mumsy took me to the local shopping precinct so we could sing Christmas Carols and welcome the Baby Jesus into the world. Okay, so it wasn’t so much that I wanted to welcome Baby Jesus into the world, but slightly more about wanting to relive my childhood; I hadn’t been Christmas Carol-ing in the shopping precinct (although I have definitely been since gaining adulthood status) for a fair long while.
It wasn’t as I remembered it. The Salvation Army band played too slow, the Carols chosen were mundane (what, no Once in David’s Royal City … *sigh*) and the (somewhat limited crowd) sang too high. But it was still a part of Christmas which I miss and a tradition I was only able to indulge in because we spent the day with my family in the Village of Birth.
And thus, the idea of remembering Christmases past was born …
I remember (and this is a jumbled unchronological mess):
- insisting on singing Happy Birthday to Jesus before letting anyone eat the Christmas cake with its beautiful marzipan nativity scene
- taking my new toys to church on Christmas morning to show them off
- that intense excitement which comes from creeping downstairs in the early hours of the morning to see if Father Christmas has filled your pillowcase (we didn’t have stockings) with presents
- only having stockings when at the home of Man (who is nothing more than a sharer of my genes)
- accepting the story that Father Christmas was magic and could get through the vent in the pipe (we didn’t have a chimney)
- the two books that Father Christmas left in my bedroom, although I know not what their titles were (we may not have had stockings but when she could afford it my Mumsy liked to do her best)
- watching Cliff Richard’s Summer Holiday every Christmas Eve (although it was probably only once)
- the anticipation of finding out the Christmas Number One!
- being a shepherd in the nativity play whilst in Middle Infants
- Sindy’s swimming pool (she loved that pool)
- excitedly waiting at the window for a glimpse of Van as it came trundling around the end of the road full of Presents (from my auntie and uncle)
- the year Father Christmas was a little late and came at the beginning of January with little treasures (one of which was a red ruler with my name on it)
- realising that Christmas had arrived because we’d been to the Candlelit Carol service and Father Christmas had waved to us from his van as he came collecting money for charity (both of which occured mid-December)
- singing Little Donkey at school
- having wine with dinner
- … and Martini after dinner
- knowing that I wasn’t imagining the sound of sleigh-bells as I drifted off to sleep
- taking Cadbury Animal’s to school for the Christmas party/ies
- being confused by the Nutcracker on the tellybox
- seeing Babes in the Wood at the theatre
- pigs in blankets!
- homemade calendars/cards/presents/decorations
- leaving a tipple of sherry out for Father Christmas and a glass of milk for Rudolph
- spending more time poking and prodding my presents in the pillowcase than opening them (I loved the scrunchy sound)
- putting the home/schoolmade decorations on the tree every year (I wonder if Mumsy still has them)
- the (seventies) retro decorations which are now all the rage (I expect Mumsy threw them out oodles of years ago)
- the frustration of not being able to work out how Father Christmas managed to be in all places at once, not only on the night itself, but also in the weeks leading up to the Big Day
- … but loving visiting him in Woolworth’s
- … and then seeing him again at Man’s works company party
- proper advent calendars without chocolate, but with lovely pictures
- the primary school Christmas Fayre, with all its ridiculous tat
- the secondary school Christmas Disco, with all its wandering hands
- writing thank you letters (a tradition which I still try to adhere to if I’m not able to thank someone for their generosity in person; am I the only soul in the world who still writes thank you letters?)
There is a lot I don’t like about Christmas … cinnamon, mulled wine, Christmas cake, mince pies, crowds, wrapping presents, that bloated feeling which comes from uncrontrollable gorging, the fact that it disappears as quickly as it came … but even as an adult I still long for it and the love and magic it brings. One day I hope to teach my children (may I be blessed) the true value of Christmas, how it isn’t about the presents we receive but instead it’s about hope, wonder, magic, family, friendship and imagination, with presents as an extra special and much appreciated bonus.
And now, ever onward … photos I have found …
At the Man’s works company party, 1977. We all look thrilled to be there, no?
The school nativity play, 1979. I’m a shepherd, with a tea-towel on my head.
The year my (flowery; see it beside me) pillowcase produced such wonders as talcum powder (with puff) and Victoria Plum, 1982(ish).
… and a most happy new year!
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