Christmas Day, 2010.

Season of Sweet Memories

Though certainly not Scrooge when this time of year comes, the commercialism of the whole hyped-up festival is offensive to me.

I am not alone in feeling this way, and it doesn’t seem to be the feeling of only doddering OAPs like me:  I hear the same from even schoolchildren.   Everyone who shares these feelings seems to want “a simple, family time”.   The trick would be to decide what that really means.

Which brings me to saying what this time of year does to me.

It brings back such lovely memories of Christmasses long, long ago, in times when – yes – there were “simple, family times”.

That was because, I suppose, ordinary people (I must not call them “the working-class” in case I sound political) had very little spare cash.   That meant that there were few, if any, lavish presents.   And we kids did not expect such luxuries.

We were just as chuffed with small, simple, often cheap presents.   Indeed, my Mom told me that she and her siblings received only a sock containing an apple, an orange and a handful of monkey-nuts (peanuts) with the sock bulked out with coal-ashes.   And the four of them looked forward to that treat with excitement.

Food seemed to be the main Festive event.   Mom, Dad (when he wasn’t doing a shift at Goodyear’s Tyre Factory) and I always went next door for a family Christmas – and Boxing Day – with Gran’ma and Gran’dad Bayliss.

From somewhere, Gran’dad had got an artificial tree and lots of red and green decorations with silvery bells.

They would always invite their friend, Mr. Harrison, a retired engine-driver in those great days of steam.   After the King’s Speech (yes, it was George VI in those days), Mr. Harrison was always asked to do his impression of Winston Churchill.   He tried to be reluclant to do it, but he never took much persuading.   It involved only holding a cigar and raising a bushy eyebrow, but everyone applauded.

Lots of tales were told of the “of course, when I was young” variety.   The times they told about seemed so, so much like ancient history.   Maybe my tales of my childhood and teens seem the same to my grand-children these days.

I remember perfectly and strongly the sounds, the sights, the smells, the decorated tree, the presents, the tastes, the people – all dead now – of those far away times.

They are delightfully happy memories.   They are deeply moving.   They are of times the feeling of which will never return.

Our terrace lights up for Christmas

And that is what Christmas does to me.

* * * * *

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