This festive-themed post includes writing from an online session where I encouraged everyone to think about Christmases past then bring back some details to share with the group. We communicated in laughter, relaxed chat and moments of contemplation, and all felt a little bit more festive afterwards. Merry Christmas to you from all of us at The Stories Of Our Lives group!
As a teacher, I have many memories of our Christmases with the children. It was a very important time for them and we always tried to make it really special for all of them. We usually presented a Christmas story which the parents and grandparents could attend – and there were many little happenings which I remember.
One year we decided to make the story a little different and added a Herald to make an announcement – (probably “Hear Ye” etc.) – several times, as he carried a rather spectacular shining instrument to his lips.
Mark, who was chosen to be the herald, was very serious and, in practicing his walk in the small hall he was asked to walk a little slower. This was fine, but when we altered the presentation into the large hall without thinking to explain to Mark, he continued with his slow, very stately and dignified movement for the length of the hall. Everyone in the audience was really seriously watching him, whilst we – the teachers – were almost killing ourselves trying to stay serious.
It took a long time! But, as always it was a great success!
As a child, one of the first memories of Christmas day was waking up in the morning (early of course, but we knew better than to disturb my mum or dad!) and feeling the rustle of a Christmas stocking under my toes at the end of the bed. Always the current Annual of whatever comic I was reading that year, a selection box of chocolates, usually dipped into before breakfast, and other little token presents. Not too many but enough to feel that the day was special. Sometimes but not always, there was a bigger present waiting downstairs. If there was, that was a bonus which had not been expected.
It was our Christmas treat to have chicken for dinner. Chicken was comparatively expensive then, so it wasn’t a usual meal. I never tasted turkey until I was an adult, but the chicken was always wonderful with the usual accompaniments. After dinner, we had to be very quiet while mum and dad listened on the radio, or later on watched on the TV, the Queen’s Speech. My two elder brothers usually went out then with their friends but my younger brother and I generally played cards with mum and dad until teatime. One Christmas card game was more memorable than most because I was winning at the game and got very excited and managed to get a square Spangle sweet stuck in the back of my throat. Consternation all round with my mum getting me to drink as much hot tea as I could to make it dissolve. It worked though!
When I had my own children we tried to make it special for them too, and hopefully they will have their own happy memories of a family day. Presents of course and then Christmas dinner shared variously with grandparents and/or more elderly aunts and uncles. One of the highlights for our children and their cousins was the visit on Christmas Day evening to my father-in-law’s family. Two uncles and 3 aunts who all lived together in what had been the family home for 9 children. All our children had been bought a gift but these had been carefully chosen according to the child’s age and interests and were often quite unusual, and not something the children would have thought of for themselves. There would be old fashioned games played which all the children loved and lots of home-made cakes, always popular!
Christmas was very special growing up. My story of a Christmas memory is with my Nan. I was given a rocking horse for my present. I remember sitting on the rocking horse, singing to Culture Club’s song, Karma Chameleon and using my Grandad’s hat and my Nan’s wool to imitate Boy George in the video to the song.
Thinking about the rocking horse brought back to me happy memories of Christmas with my Nan. She would prepare for Christmas by making Sherry trifle and Christmas cake in a mixing bowl, which she would let me lick afterwards. Another memory is of leaving sherry and a mince pie on Christmas Eve for Santa Claus and wrapping Christmas presents for the family.
It was the 6th of January which is the Adventist Christmas, as celebrated by the Armenian church I was visiting. I was there because my good friend Hermes was a Christian. I have lots of memories of Hermes. He died a few years ago but I still stay in touch with his wife, children and even grandchildren.
I particularly remember this time with him and the enormous Christmas tree I saw.
I was quite impressed by it and also confused. I stood looking at it for about 10 – 15 minutes in silence, wondering about what it meant. I eventually asked my friend “Do Christians worship trees?” and he laughed at me and explained some of what he actually believed.
I remember hearing his mother giving a speech which has stayed with me ever since as, though she was talking about the Christmas season, for me, it is true for all days. She said
‘People should live in peace, happiness and friendship.”