I love Christmas time but it always evokes memories of past Christmases, when my father was alive.  He really loved Christmas time and did his best to give us a great time.  I think he enjoyed it so much as he came from a poor family and as he didn’t have such a good time he wanted to make sure us four children did.

He used to tell us how his parents used to wrap toys he already had and put them in his stocking to make it seem he had more presents than he did. I did not believe this story but he swore it was true and it made me sad.  He said he used to open them and say, ‘But I already have this!’  Thinking about this still brings tears to my eyes.

We had it hard too, but Mum and Dad did their best to get us what we wanted. Each year I made a list for Santa.

We were allowed one main present costing about £2. One year I had a bride doll as my main present another a Tressy doll ( which I still have) We also had a few smaller gifts in our stockings, like an annual, a game and a tin of toffees.  We were always happy with what we received.  Then there were a couple of gifts on the Christmas tree too, which we usually opened on Boxing Day.

I saved up my pocket money and bought Mum and Dad gifts, usually from Woolworths. Perhaps a box of handkerchiefs for Dad and bath cubes for Mum.  Sometimes I made their presents, getting ideas from Valerie Singleton on the Blue Peter programme. One year I gave Dad a pen holder made from an old tin and sticky backed plastic!  He stood it on his desk and seemed pleased with it.  I gave Mum pink bath salts made from soda crystals and cochineal colouring. I am not sure she used them!  I don’t think I would have done!

Christmas Day was always a magical time. Uncles and aunts called in, bearing gifts. There was the aroma of the turkey cooking and Mum’s homemade sausage stuffing. Mum made everything , most people did back then. Christmas cake and puddings were made in November.  Mince pies were made on Christmas Eve. Mum was always busy in the kitchen.  The only time she really relaxed was when we all sat down, in the evening, to watch the Morecambe and Wise Christmas show on our black and white TV. Then we ate nuts, using nut crackers, and lemon and orange crystallized slices. I wasn’t too keen on those.  Mum had a Babycham and us children had ginger beer.

I hated it when Christmas was over and afterwards seeing the Christmas tree ( always a real one) standing almost needle-less outside.   The festivities seemed to go so quickly and I couldn’t wait til next Christmas!

Now I spend Christmas with my grandchildren.

I can’t help thinking though, that what with all the commercialism and materialism we have now something of the magic of this time of year that I experienced as a child is lost.

Anyway it is still a wondrous time of the year. Have a happy Christmas everyone!