Christmas Eve

“Never worry about the size of your Christmas tree. In the eyes of children, they are all thirty feet tall.”  Larry Wilde

As for most people Christmas was best when I was young and still believed in Santa Claus.  In those days we used to alternate between a Christmas at home one year and then at the grandparents the year after.  I can remember one of these quite clearly.

My mum’s parents lived in London and they lived in a flat in Catford and when we stayed there I got to sleep in a small box room at the front of the house overlooking the street outside.  One year, I was five years old, I had gone to bed on Christmas Eve and sometime during the night I woke up and because of the street lights outside even with the curtains drawn there was just enough illumination for me to see at the foot of the bed that there was a sack overflowing with presents.

Sticking out of the top of the sack was a rifle (not a real one of course) so I knew that I had got the cowboy outfit that was top of my Christmas present list!  It was still some time until morning but I am sure that I was able to sleep better after that secure in the confidence that Santa had been.

Christmas 1960

I used to like Christmas in London, the flat was a curious arrangement that was simply the top floor of a family house with only one front door but it was warm and homely and welcoming.  For most of the year everything took place in the small back room but at Christmas we were allowed to go into the best front room for a couple of days.  In the morning we would open the main presents and then at tea time there were gifts on the tree to be taken down and given out.

Granddad was in charge of this operation until one year when instead of cutting a piece of string holding the present on the tree he cut the tree lights instead and nearly electrocuted himself in the process.  After that he lost the job and my Nan took over the responsibility from thereon.

There was always a stocking hanging on the fireplace that had the same things in it every year.  This was a real stocking mind, not one of the modern pre-packed things that we get today.  Granddad was a bus conductor before they went one man operated and every year he used to collect shiny new penny coins and each of us would get a cash bag full of the gleaming treasure.  There was an apple and an orange and a few sweets, a dot-to-dot book and perhaps a matchbox car or two.

Life was a whole lot simpler then and expectations much lower!

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28 responses to “Christmas Eve

  1. First of all, Andrew, looking at your pics I think you havent changed all that much!!! The top one is particularely cute.
    A shiny apple, one single orange and Mom’s home baked “Plaetzchen” – how happy that made us, THEN! Can not imagine the Youngsters liking this today.

  2. Pingback: Christmas Eve | Have Bag, Will Travel

  3. Cheers, Andrew. Lovely post full of Christmas memories.

  4. Lovely story, Andrew. I loved the dot-to-dot books.

  5. I recall the days and if the best front room too. We did tend to use it rather more frequently but it was out of bounds in Christmas Eve because that was where Santa would leave the presents and he might not leave anything if I disturbed him. Actually what happened was my Dad would put up the Christmas tree in there on Christmas Eve and then after breakfast on Christmas Day we would be allowed in for presents to be handed round. This was the 1960s.

  6. Great memories – and excellent use of the low tree/lower expectations

  7. Wow, how easily recognisable you are in the first photograph, but what about your knees? Have they stayed the same?

  8. I keep them covered up mostly now!

  9. Lovely story of a bygone age. Your Grandad snipping the lights must have been a shock for everybody!

  10. I think I’ve said before that I enjoy your memories because we are of similar vintage and they often remind me of my own experiences. Have a great Christmas, even if you don’t get a dot to dot book and a shiny penny!

  11. Pingback: DFW Flashback | Pat Bean's blog

  12. I still like to wear my cowboy outfit. Especially when I’m doing my dot to dots. 😊

  13. Remember clearly those days as a youngster excited for Christmas.. It was always a huge family gathering, and I just loved the big family round the lunch table.. 😉

  14. I’m generally in favour of the 1960s, and this shows one of the reasons. Not only was life simpler but there was more of a sense of adventure with glass baubles and dodgy Christmas Tree lights – would they cut someone, would they work, would they kill someone? We still had some tree mounted candle holdwers though my parents never used them. Can’t think why…

  15. Sounds a lot like my Christmases in London after the war, we’d hang up our sock and there would be an orange and some nuts and a few sweets in it in the morning. Kind of nice memories in a way.

    happy New Year Andrew, hope 2019 is a good one for you 😀

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