Looking back to Christmas seen through the eyes of younger me…
Putting up the tree. The tree was old and made of foil and the most beautiful thing to me was a set of glass birds that were secured to the branches by clips that were attached to their feet. Their tails were fine filament ( some type of plastic I suppose) and although we weren’t to play with them I can remember ‘patting’ them on the tree. It stood in the corner of the lounge room and was the first thing you would see as you entered the room.
Christmas cards draped on strings covering the curtains. We never put them through the venetian blind slats as my mum didn’t like the way the blank sides looked from outside. There were so many they draped windows in the lounge room and were pinned to the windows of the dining room.
Christmas bush in vases. My grandfather brought this to us and it really was a ‘brown paper package tied up with string’ although it wasn’t entirely wrapped of course. I think we may have had a bush too but it. Was the bunches laying on the dining table ( we called it the kitchen table) that I loved. Small red petals of the delicate flowers left behind when the vases were arranged would be sprinkled on the table and floor along with the greenish leaves, before being swept away and the place once more tidy.
Fake poinsettia flowers. Mum had a bunch that she would ceremoniously place on the stereo. Dad would ‘unceremoniously dump’ them on the floor so he could use the stereo.
Cherries. They were large and plump and stained our fingers with their rich purple juice. They sat in an aluminium colander in the fridge and if there were no guests we could set them straight from the colander.
Watermelon. On the hot summer nights leading up to christmas we would sit on our front porch eating it and spitting the seeds. My grandfather frequently brought them for us. They were long unlike the round ones we have now. They were deep red with large black seeds speckled through. I loved the colour contrasts in this fruit. We weren’t allowed to eat near the white as my mum was convinced a poison was contained in it and to eat the white would make us ill. Not sure where that information came to her from.
Listening to Christmas carols and stories on LP records and reel to reel tapes. Funny the things you remember. I remember a story Small One particularly the part of story where the donkey was being taken by his master to the tanners before Joseph took him. The storyteller spoke of the hooves tapping out the rhythm of the donkey’s hooves ‘Going to the tanners, going to the tanners’. I can remember tapping it out in my head. Then we had the story of The Happy Prince (Swallow, Swallow, little Swallow,’ said the Prince,’will you not stay with me for one night, and be my messenger?” ) and the Match Girl ( I can still remember the line “it was so dark , she couldn’t even see her fingers” in the voice as it was spoken). I tried lots of places in our home in an attempt to replicate this so I could feel how she felt. It was near impossible living in a house in the suburbs with big street lights set night. I still think about this when we have had street lights broken and it is in the dark of night. And, of course, we had records of Bing Crosby singing.
We also left out gifts of cash ‘for a drink’ for those that delivered things such as the baker, milkman, soft drinks ( yes these were delivered!!) and of course for the garbage collectors. I don’t know how my mum managed that one though. I know she left the others in the places where the deliveries were made but to this day I don’t know if she got up and ran outside when the truck rumbled past around 3 am or if she tied an envelope to the garbage bin lid… mystery that maybe my sisters can answer perhaps.
Fairy light night. We weren’t ones to go out much at night but each year we would go to a local shopping centre where Santa arrived and gave lollies to the children. This Santa fellow is up there with clowns for me. This was the one time I was pleased my sisters would push mad into the middle seat of the car!
On Christmas Eve we left out homemade fruit cake for Santa. This was a traumatic night for me as the thought of a stranger walking in my home while I was asleep was frightening. I don’t think I ever got much sleep on this night as every noise or creak would have me in fear this man wax going to pop into my room. I liked the presents but not the courier haha.
Christmas Day with relatives. Our day was split in half . In the morning we would go for lunch at my maternal grandparents. We were the only grandchildren and Santa left more gifts here for us. My mum cooked all the food as my nanna was where I inherited my cooking genes from . Then in the afternoon we would head to our paternal nanna’s house for another feast. The best plum pudding was served here. We had lots of cousins here so it was fun catching up. We never took our new toys incase they got broken and all I thought of all day was getting home to play with them.
Then it was home to catch up on the sleep I missed due to dreams haunted by that Jolly Red Fellow.
What are your early Christmas memories?
NB photos aren’t mine so contain links to their site embedded in the photo.