Predictably

it seemed only right to write up a memory or two of Christmas as a child.

First thing about Christmas – I don’t think I ever believed in Father Christmas. My dad was the Rotary Club Father Christmas, and went around raising money to take the “old dears” to the seaside in the summer (I helped collect the money so I got to go too – and was spoiled rotten by them all!). When I was old enough I went round collecting door to door, as the Rotary Club float drove very slowly along the street playing carols, and Dad did a kind of non-stop commentary for the children.

“I can see you, peeping out the window! Get to sleep quickly so I can bring you presents. Happy Christmas!” etc.

After the collection we went back to the club house and counted the money – I usually had quite a good haul because people couldn’t say no to a kid at the door. I remember the smell of beer and cigarette smoke while we counted all the money up.

When we got home Dad would hang the Father Christmas costume over the boiler to dry out and air, ready for the next night. I wore it on Christmas Day to hand out all the presents from under the tree.

Dad also did a “Santa’s Grotto” in town, and one year Mum took me to see him, not realising I knew who it was. So I made sure I explained very clearly what I wanted, which was doll’s house “just like Sally’s”. I suppose doll’s houses were rather expensive, because Dad made one for me instead, and being an ungrateful little wretch I complained about it not being “like Sally’s”. Mum tried to say Santa didn’t know what hers was like, but I wasn’t having that! Once I got over the disappointment though I loved that doll’s house. Dad had fitted it with real carpet from samples from the carpet shop, and papered it with samples from the wallpaper books from his own shop.

We put up decorations on the Sunday before Christmas, and I spent ages making paper chains in advance. We used the same decorations year after year and they even had specific homes to hang in, with holes ready for the drawing pins.

On Christmas Day itself my aunt, uncle and cousin came over (we went to their place for New Year). My granddad and his family came to see us on Boxing Day. One of the funny things I remember is that Grandma used to have a drink of Egg Nog, and one year it made her a bit tipsy and she was taken to bed singing “Knees up Mother Brown” and “Little Brown Jug”!

One of the worst thing s that happened was when I was a teenager and Dad didn’t get a tree. He thught I was too old and he didn’t have to bother. I absolutely howled. The next year he got one again, thank goodness, and we always have one ourselves now. It’s the smell that does it for me – smells stimulate memories so strongly.

Really Christmas was very quiet for us, and as I was the only child it was quite dull in a lot of ways. I used to watch the television in the afternoon while everyone slept off dinner! I don’t want it to sound terrible though – it was a happy time, just quiet. I like my Christmases as we have them now, with a big family and lots of noise and talk and games.

However you like yours, I hope you have a good one.

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