A Childhood Christmas …

Farmhouse Country Style: Christmas Past

 

We would arrive on Christmas Eve day – armed with presents.  A roaring fire would greet us – bread rising on the hearth and filling the house with wonderful yeasty smells – the battered old tinsel tree had been set up with the same decorations we remembered from year to year – garlands of paper decorations hung from the ceiling – everywhere shining and polished – it couldn’t be more festive if it tried.

Norman Rockwell

  The evening was spent singing carols round the piano – Grandad playing – copious amounts of port, sherry and advocat  being drunk by the adults.  My brother and I were sent to bed, later than normal, too excited to sleep – snuggling under blankets – feet warmed by hot water bottles.  Morning couldn’t come soon enough.

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And when it did – such excitement – chairs gathered round the fire piled high with presents – the room soon filling with scraps of torn paper while the family looked on to see our reactions of delight or disappointment.  Then Mum and Grandma would go into the kitchen to start preparing dinner – the turkey had been cooking slowly overnight in the oven, soft, tender and bronzed.  The kitchen filled with steam from the pudding, wrapped in cloths and bubbling away in a saucepan.  Plates of mincepies appeared to appease our appetites whilst we were waiting – the menfolk sat quietly drinking beer and chatting; stomachs rumbling – my brother and I played with our toys, opened selection boxes and read the Dandy and Beano annuals that we received every year.

 

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My Grandma was a great cook – all the food was quickly demolished by the hungry crowd and feeling full and replete, one by one they fell asleep in front of the fire – and my brother and I tried to wait patiently for the evening festivities to begin – the neighbours came round to join in the fun -  board games and playing cards were brought out – no television in those days – drinks flowed and gradually they got a little tipsy and laughed a lot at nothing in particular.

   These memories are so vivid and have always stayed with me, particularly as every single one of those lovely people are now dead and gone – just my brother and me left - I treasure the memories more than a box full of jewels.

 

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This is my Grandad Herbert playing piano at a works Christmas Party in 1954

 

"Christmas - that magic blanket that wraps itself about us, that something so intangible that it is like a fragrance. It may weave a spell of nostalgia. Christmas may be a day of feasting, or of prayer, but always it will be a day of remembrance - a day in which we think of everything we have ever loved."
- Augusta E. Rundel

Midwinter Dream

Comments

  1. What a lovely, evocative post, Elaine. That top image, richly coloured, perfectly depicts my imagined life.

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    1. Thank you Mise. There is so much more I have recalled but I rather think the post would have turned into a book - so I kept it short. I agree, the top picture is an idealised one of how Christmas is thought to be - but I'm sure it mirrors your life perfectly.

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  2. A lovely nostalgic post. My own, rather faded, memories aren't quite as cheery. Flighty xx

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    1. Thanks Flighty. Most Christmases blur into one another - but some stand out and deserve to be remembered.

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  3. That first picture. . . . . the good old days of christmas cards and presents..

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  4. Such a lovely and heartwarming post. Suzy x

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    1. Thanks Suzy - it gave me pleasure just remembering it all.

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  5. My memories are very similar, I wonder how our children and grandchildren will remember their Christmas time?

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    1. I guess all families have their own traditions which they repeat every year which are remembered fondly.

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  6. What wonderful memories you have of your childhood Chrismases, nowwonder you treasure them:)

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    1. They certainly were happy days spent with a loving family.

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  7. A real heartwarming post, with many similar memories as I have, only we had no father Christmas with presents but Santa Claus on December 5th and only a small family, but it was always joy and fun.
    Last picture with the falling snowflakes is wonderful too!

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    1. Thanks Janneke - I tried hard to convey that warm and happy Christmas feeling I had as a child - sadly now Christmas Day is very quiet compared to the raucous fun we used to have.

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  8. Such a beautiful post Elaine...
    As we age (I'll be 60 on the 26th) and those we have shared our lives with begin to leave us it is the memories of those joyous times we hold so dear in our hearts. My parents now both in their eighties, my Mom suffering greatly from dementia seemed to know exactly how to make sure Santa got our wish lists and Christmas morn was always so enchanting.
    How we long for those moments again... at least we have the memories.
    Enjoy the weekend.
    Susan x

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    1. Thank you Susan. Indeed, it is the ideal time to think about our loved ones - I miss them all and would love to turn back time for just a little while to enjoy it all over again. If I don't hear from you again before Christmas have a lovely birthday on the 26th - a birthday and Christmas together, double celebrations!

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  9. Oh....what a sweet, sweet post, and what delightful memories, it must have been a wonderful childhood. You can't beat singing around a piano, we did as kids too and I loved it. Gorgeous pics here, I loved your Granddad, what a priceless picture. This has really put me in the mood for Christmas.xxx

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    1. Thanks Dina. It gave me a lot of pleasure to write this post - and family is what Christmas is all about - even if they are no longer with us.

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  10. Such wonderful memories and how lovely of you to share them with us. I hope that this year will make even more great memories for you. xx

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    1. Thanks Amy - as you grow older the memories are different and probably less memorable than when you are a child. It is still a special time.

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  11. Elaine I could have written all that myself. I always remember the actual LIT candles on the tree too; elf-n-safety would have had a fit.

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    1. I remember the little candles on the tree too - they were always a little wonky and I am surprised there weren't more accidents.

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  12. I think my dad was born before his time as he always was always involved in cooking Christmas dinner,

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    1. Men in the kitchen - unthinkable in those days.

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  13. What wonderful memories - we all have them about Christmas' past don't we. I wonder what our young people will remember when they are older?

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    1. They will all probably be busy texting on their phones to notice Christmas!

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  14. Ah Elaine - such a lovely post. Your memories are wonderful...your words paint the picture of such joy and love that must have surrounded you and your brother. I too have a brother and we are still blessed to have our parents with us but others have gone on and it is wonderful like you to bring out those beautiful memories of those we have loved in this life and polish them. Thank you for sharing yours. Hugs!

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    1. Thanks Debbie, so glad you enjoyed the post - my memories are very special to me - just as yours are to you - it is a good time of year for recalling Christmas past.

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  15. If I didn't know better, you nearly recounted my grandmother's Christmas celebrations. I was was 12 when she died and Christmas was never the same, especially with a step-grandmother. So I try to create those same wonderful memories for my grandchildren. Your photos and narrative have helped to inspire me and remind me why I am going to so much work baking today. Have a great weekend, Elaine.

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    1. I don't think children really consider all the hard work that goes into Christmas to create a lovely atmosphere but when they are grown and have to make their own Christmas special they probably appreciate it more looking back.

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  16. This was so lovely to read Elaine. It reminded me so much of those family Christmas's gone by with the different smells and routines that parents and grandparents would do things. I was speaking to my own two teens today and what their memories are so far and they said that no one can ever do a Christmas dinner as good as me and the ritual of me getting up early and them hearing me potter around in the kitchen knowing that when they come downstairs there will be a full English breakfast waiting with full Christmas stockings to start the day with. Bless their hearts :-) xx

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    1. It is lovely that your children appreciate what you do for them - I do tend to get a bit nostalgic for Christmas past and think myself lucky that my family knew how to make our Christmases ones to remember.

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  17. What a wonderful quote, and a fabulous post. I have few memories of family Christmasses, my family didn't roll that way. It was usually just me and my sister and Mum and Dad, and too much food of the wrong kind, and too much television. Maybe that's why I've always struggled a bit with Christmas.

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    1. Thanks Annie - we still get the games and cards out on Christmas evening and play with friends - it is the one thing for me that makes Christmas different and I find it strange that everyone else doesn't do it too. As a child I particularly liked Flap the Kipper and Blow Football, although it did tend to get a bit raucous - such fun!

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  18. I am literally crying right now as I just finished reading this Elaine. My goodness...are your memories just so beautiful and rich...and that photo is priceless. Christmas does make us remember.....it is very bittersweet though it is the beauty of life as well. Sending you a very Merry Christmas hug Elaine. Thank you for taking us back with you. What a magical place it was! Nicole xoxo

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    1. Thank you for your sweet words Nicole - of course, not all Christmases are memorable they mostly blur into one another - but some do stick out and stay in your mind and are wonderful to recall.

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  19. Can't see the keyboard, the tears in my eyes are brimming to overflowing.
    My childhood Christmas was very similar and you have brought back so many precious memories Elaine, and I thank you for that.

    Aren't we lucky to have such very special memories Elaine...................to share with others.
    Your writing is beautiful.

    Sending you a warm Christmas hug.xxxxx

    BTW love the photograph.

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    1. Thank you Cheryl for a lovely comment. Yes we are lucky to have special memories - not everyone can say that - I send a big Christmas hug back to you.

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  20. I like the image of a magic blanket. I think it is something of a miracle that Christmas Day still transcends ordinary life. You conjured up many memories. Thank you.

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    1. Thanks Lucille. I'm glad I found that quote which complements the post pretty well.

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  21. What a beautiful memory
    Twiggy

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    1. Thanks Twiggy - glad you stopped by.

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  22. Such wonderful memories...I envy you x

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    1. Thanks Jane - I certainly treasure them - so long ago now though.

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  23. A most evocative post Elaine. We had a family celebration at the weekend, where I got the chance to meet up with my two brothers and sister which rarely happens. We were able to share some magical childhood Christmas memories. What a beautiful snowy scene to round up your post.

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    1. I wonder if my brother would remember those Christmases in the same way as I do - he was very young at the time - so probably not.

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  24. A lovely post Elaine - took us all down memory lane. Love your special effects!

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  25. Elaine this is such a lovely post and memories too. I too was only thinking the other day the memories always seem to some close at this time of year. That'a wonderful photo of your Granddad. Sarah x

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    1. Thanks Sarah. I treasure that photo - it is very special to me.

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  26. I love the family photo of the kids crowded around your granddad. I can just imagine the scene from your wonderful descriptions of childhood memories. Happy Christmas Elaine!

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    1. Happy Christmas to you too Jennifer.

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