Memories of Christmas Past – 1961

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Christmas has always been one of my very favourite times of the year. Apart from the ‘reason for the season’ which is after all the most important thing of all to me as a Christian – I love the sights, the sounds, the smells and the excitment of this special time of the year.

I thought after the heaviness of my last couple of posts I might write a lighter one.

CHRISTMAS PAST -1961

The house is heavy with the knowledge of secrets hidden in special places. Wrapping paper crackles as presents are made into colourful parcels.Is it time to put up the Christmas tree yet? At last we dance around impatiently as it comes out of storage and the beautiful sparkly ornaments are unpacked and placed ever so carefully on the tree. We take turns hanging them and reach high to place them in just the right place. Oh it looks so beautiful !

The Christmas cake and pudding have been mixed together then baked scenting the house with their rich aroma weeks earlier and are now maturing away in preparation for their triumphant unveiling. My favourite shortbread has been made and is filling the biscuit tin. If I’m lucky Mum will take pity on me and let me have a piece or two before Christmas Day as a special treat. A few days before Christmas she carefully ices the cake  and places it in pride of place in the middle of the table in the dining room.

Nai and I have helped put up the decorations and spent hours folding crepe paper strips into chains to hang and we feel proud and excited as we gaze on the transformed loungeroom and dining room. Cards have been sent and are arriving from friends and relations both near and far and Mum has pinned them to the curtains in the dining room and placed them along the curtain rails in the loungeroom.

Will Santa bring us the present we have asked for? Anticipation builds and excitment fizzes in our veins. Nai and I try desperately to keep the secrets we have been entrusted with… it’s sooo hard and we listen to each other like hawks to try to head off any untoward slips of the tongue.

At last it’s Christmas Eve.

Mum is busy all day cooking and preparing the hot dinner we’ll have that evening. We get in her way and  exasperate her with our excitment and impatience. Funny I don’t remember her ever getting mad at us though.

Dad gets home from work and at long last we sit around the table and enjoy the traditional roast meal. After the washing up is done we watch a Christmas special on the TV. Nai and I stretched out on the rug with our heads propped up on our elbows. We are tired but so excited! Bed time at last. We put out some lemonade,a glass and a plate next to the Christmas cake for Santa and leave a carrot for his reindeer- I guess they must get so many carrots that they take turns in eating them ’cause I don’t think one carrot is going to go far with that many reindeer. We hang our pillowcases on the back of chairs  placed next to each other in the middle of the loungeroom….hopefully the next time we see them they’ll have presents from Santa in them. Dad closes the doors into the loungeroom….they can’t be opened now until the official opening in the morning and the patterned glass ensures that no amount of trying to see through by an early riser will allow any glimpses of the bounty within.

I toss and turn in bed. I get up and go to the toilet. I toss and turn. I get up to get a glass of water only to be sent back to bed with a stern ‘ Santa only comes when you are asleep -go to sleep!’ Suddenly the gray early morning light  filters through the curtains in my room. I get up and go into Mum and Dad’s room… “Can we get up yet?” Mum and Dad tell me to go and get Nai and they, poor things, drag thenselves out of bed. Goodness knows what time they got to sleep. They had to wait till Nai and I were asleep before they could do Santa’s work for him.

Nai and I dance around impatiently waiting for Dad to open the loungeroom doors.It seems to take forever for Mum and Dad to be ready.Finally they are opened and we can enter the room. There is a moment of stunned silence as we gaze at the beauty within. Presents heaped beneath the tree and pillowcases with interesting bulges delight our eyes….he came! Santa came! A quick glance at the dining table shows bites out of the carrot, a few dregs of lemonade in the glass, a big slice of Christmas cake cut out of the cake and crumbs on the plate.

Mum and Dad sit in the armchairs with a cup of tea while Nai and I take the presents out of our pillowcases. Our joy and excitment is loud – our delight fills the room. Then its time to open the presents under the tree. We take turns ….. waiting  to see how each gift is received. The pile of  paper grows and the air bubbles with delight.

At last we get dragged away to have breakfast and get ready for church. I put on the new Christmas dress that Mum has made me. It will be one of my favourites and I’ll remember it over the years.I feel very swish. The day stretches before me…. when we get home from church there’ll be our Christmas Day feast of cold meat and salad, pavlova and Christmas pudding, nuts,sweets and shortbread to eat. Christmas Carols will form a background to the day.Visits to Grandma and neighbours and time to play with my gifts. The Christmas telephone call to Nanny and Grandad far away in the New England. Leftovers for tea  and then to bed. Next year there’ll be a new baby sister to celebrate with as well.

Memories to last a lifetime.

I am blessed.

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