Saturday, 13 December 2008

christmas past

Jeannette at Outside - Looking In (Jeannette's Jottings 2) wrote about how christmas was for her before her family had tv...She's asked what did we do if we are old enough to remember not having any telly...I thought i'd put my wee bit here instead of a comment to Jeannette.

I can't actually remember when we got tv...I know the telly was black & white and we finally got a colour one in 1973...That was the same time we got a bbc2 ariel...Mum had wanted colour telly before that but dad wouldn't let her...He relented so that mum could watch princess Annes first wedding in colour lol...But even with the black and white telly we didn't watch it on christmas day except for the queens speech.

Christmas started at the beginning of dec not way back in sept as some retailers like to bombard us with nowadays...I say beg of dec because that was when we started the advent calendar...Not the kind you get now full of sweeties...I don't know if they had any like that back in the 60's/early 70's...We had one that was covered with a wintery scene and glitter...Me and my little sister took it in turns to open a door each day...On the last day we opened a side each as it had double doors that revealed the nativity...And the calendar doors were closed shut to be used again the next year...Mum would also have made the christmas cake and christmas puddings back in the nov or possibly the oct...We always had money wrapped up and in the pudding...When cutting it up to serve mum always made sure that us little ones got a piece with a bit of silver foil shining in it...That's not to say that we always managed to get the most valuable coins in the pudding...Leading up to christmas we spent sundays in the lounge instead of the living room...Sounds dead posh doesn't it lol...We weren't posh far from it just the house had 2 front rooms...One was the sitting room we used all the time and the lounge was kept for best...It was the lounge that the christmas tree and decorations went up in...We did have a fake tree but there was some years we had a real tree...My dad was in the masons and we got the tree they had in the masonic lodge for quite a few years...As we had to wait until after the kids christmas party and the other christmas events they had...So the years we got that tree it was only at most 3 days before christmas day...And it was always a huge tree (well it seemed huge to a small child) The lounge had a bay window and that real tree always filled it...We couldn't have afforded to buy a tree like that...One thing we always looked forward to at christmas was to come into the city to see the christmas lights on the main street.

Another highlight on the lead up to christmas was going to visit santa in his grotto in a local store...Now in retrospect i feel rather bad about how i was one year...Of course back then santa was santa so i didn't know why i might not get what i asked for...I was desperate for a puppet and when we went to visit santa i asked for a puppet...My mum said i might not get one and i threw a temper tantrum as far as i remember...The parents bought something in the store and it was wrapped and given to santa to give to the child...I did get my puppet and i don't know why...I think that was around about the time my little sister was born or just a baby and maybe i felt left out a bit hence getting the puppet...What i didn't know then but i know now was it was expensive for that kind of present...I still have that puppet complete with box and instructions...And on the instructions is still the tear off portion to send off to join the pelham puppet club in shillings lol...I did play with it and so have my lot (though them not much)...Another time when i was about 5 or maybe 6 i got a sindy doll...I hated dolls and never played with them so what possessed mum to think i would want a sindy is beyond me...I had been barred from the kitchen for weeks when i came home from school leading up to that christmas...That was because mum had sat and knitted and sewn up a massive range of outfits specially for the sindy doll...I did appreciate them just not the doll itself lol...My little sis broke it's head off a few months later and you know what...I was distraught lol...I do have one other christmas present from my childhood although some bits are missing...That's my super spirograph...Not ordinary bog standard spirograph but one with knobs on lol.

So on christmas eve i think it was once i was 6 i got to go to the watchnight service...I don't remember who looked after my baby sister but i know it won't have been either of my parents...So it must have been either my older sis or bro...The watchnight service wasn't held in the church we went to on a sunday morning...Back then there was a church in the main street of the village as well...It was in that church that evening services were held and if it snowed then sunday morning service was held there...When that church was sold off then the watchnight service was held in the church hall...The church hall in the village isn't beside the church...We lived close to both and we walked to and from the service...I mentioned it can't have been either of my parents looking after my baby sister...My dad was an elder in the church and he was always on duty on christmas eve...My mum sang in the choir and also sang solo's and often she would be singing a solo on christmas eve...After the service i would be straight to bed when i got home carrying my sock for santa to put at the end of my bed...No fancy stockings but an old sock of my dads...The tree would have lots of presents under it and magically they appeared at the end of my bed on christmas morning...We always got presents from all our uncles and aunties hence we had a rather large pile to open...One uncle lived near a papermill and from when i was very young i always got a massive pad of very good quality paper with a packet of crayons or pens...I began to know that is what i would be getting from them and i always looked forward to it...Usually it was a small toy or board game or bubble bath we got from uncles and aunties...A board game one would usually be something to that was shared with my little sister...Because we had so many uncles and aunties i always felt like i was a real miser when it came to my own three's christmas present piles...I always had to remind myself i had lots of relatives...Anyways this is about not having telly and not being too nostalgic...On christmas morning we would run through to mum and dads room at some ridiculously early hour and waken them up...Then we'd all pile into their bed with all our presents and open them...After that mum would go downstairs to put the turkey on if she hadn't put it in already...For breakfast my mum always had her tangerine that was in the bottom of her sock...And that's what we all had for brekkie on christmas day...We would all get dressed in our new best clothes to go to church for the christmas day service...When we got back mum and my sister would be in the kitchen getting stuff on to cook...Me and my little sis (once she was old enough) set the table with the best cutlery, crystal glasses etc...We folded the napkins up all fancy as well...My maternal grandparents and my dads spinster sister would always come for christmas dinner with us...After we finished the dinner the men did the dishes...We'd then play with our new toys, read new books or use new drawing stuff...After dad had a quick snooze we would go and visit other relatives...Even with a telly it wasn't like it is now...Because videos, dvd's and satellite telly didn't exist films on christmas day were a big thing...Unless you'd been to the cinema to see it then it would be all new and exciting.

Think i have digressed a bit and Strictly and the X factor are on...Think am going to be upset tonight and my favourite be put out of strictly...I want alexandra to win the X factor


Jeannette said...

Thank you Cath for all your memories. I still think Christmas was better in those days although I would be lost without my computer lol. Children today have it all and yet they are still not happy. The simple pleasures are gone. Yet, we make the most of it and always will.

LYN said...

thanks for writing this...I have such fond memories of my own childhood christmases..yesterday when I read jeanettes post it made me I long for one more of those Christmases...