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Monday, November 9, 2009

10 memories about Christmas

It's a long time since I did a 'Me,Me' list about anything, and so I thought I'd add one to the Blog this morning. Here goes then, with a list of ten things that I remember from Christmas past:
  1. I guess my earliest memories of Christmas are trying to stay awake to see Father Christmas come to fill up my stocking. I never managed to do it, no matter how hard I tried, and so I was always surprised by the assortment of things that made my sock bulge very early on Christmas morning. There would be an assortment of simple things such as nuts, a tangerine, a small toy and possibly a colouring book. Maybe even a couple of sweets to round it all off. However, the nuts could not be cracked open and so would wait until later when everyone else was awake. I often think about the simplicity of it all and wonder how today's children would feel to be greeted with the same sort of thing. Despite the abundance of overly expensive presents I guess the average child would still be just as excited today as I was all those years ago.

  2. Getting up on Christmas morning when I could finally wait no longer, bursting with excitement as to what the day would hold in store, is a very fond memory. I would wait patiently until I heard stirring from the direction of my parents' bedroom and the wait just a little bit longer until I heard one of my brothers or sisters up and about before creeping downstairs.

  3. In those now far-distant days --- although they often seem to be like yesterday! --- the weather was colder than it is nowadays. I loved looking out of my window, high up on the third floor of the large house that we occupied, and seeing a hoare frost that was laid out across my world. It was as though God had dusted everything in a white sparkle, and it always seemed a little magical to me.

  4. The biggest delight of all was to see the lounge and the Christmas tree, both of which my mother had decorated on Christmas Eve after I'd gone to bed. No matter how familiar the decorations were she always managed to make it different from previous years. Just enough sparkle added without overdoing it made it all seem as though a touch of magic had been used. One set of fairy lights that were always used had scenes from favourite Disney films, and Snow White sat as comfortably alongside Bambi as she did the Seven Dwarfs.

  5. I was one of seven children, and our Christmas presents would be placed in seven neat piles on the window seat in my father's office. We were allowed to open them only after breakfast, and the wait was a sort of exquisite agony! What excitement there would be as we unwrapped the books and annuals, and especially the presents whose shape and wrapping defied enquiring eyes to guess what lay inside!

  6. Going to church after both breakfast and the big present opening was special for me for I loved to see the way the church had been transformed by the Christmas decorations. For much of the year the church seemed to be somewhat austere, but it was dressed in all its finery for the various Festivals such as Christmas, Easter and Harvest, and I loved it. Somehow it exuded a warmth that was denied us for the rest of the year. An important part of the Christmas decor was the scene of the manger with the kings, wise men and animals surrounding Joseph, Mary and the baby Jesus.

  7. Christmas dinner was very special for me. Being such a big family, everyone at home for Christmas, meant that I got to sit in the window seat at my own small table. It was fun being slightly separate which made me feel very grown up, and yet still part of this large family gathering. In those days we would have either a turkey or a large farm-bred and free-range chicken, usually the former, and the taste was far superior to the factory-produced birds of today, so often injected with water by the supermarkets in order to raise the weight and cheat the customers a little. For a special treat I would be allowed to have a glass of sweet cider with my meal, and this proved, to me at least, that I was getting to be a grown-up.

  8. When I finally became a grown-up and had my own family home I would try to recreate a little of the magic of my childhood Christmas experiences all over again, although it could never be quite the same as when I was a small boy. Does my own son remember his early Christmases as fondly as I do? I certainly hope he does, at least a little.

  9. For many years now one of the things that I look forward to over the Christmas Season is the opportunity to attend a church service on Christmas Eve. One in particular comes to mind when I lived in Merthyr Cynog, high in the hills of the Epynt mountains, when my late mother came to stay. The little church of St Cynog was right next door to my home and all I had to do was step out of my front door and there was the ate to the churchyard on my right. Most of the community, whether church or chapel, attended the service. The singing was always wonderful (what else would you expect from a Welsh congregation!) and the children would parade their Christingles, the church lights being dimmed down to get the full effect of the candlelight. After the service there would be cheerful calls of 'Nadolig Llawen' and 'Happy Christmas' resounding across the churchyard, according to whether your first language was Welsh or English, and people would hurry off to the warmth of their homes.

  10. For many years after coming to Runcorn as Minister to St John's Presbyterian Church, my Christmas Day was spent by providing a meal for several elderly ladies who would otherwise have been alone on the day, one of whom was in a wheelchair. Before going to lead the Christmas Day Service at 9.30, still a little tired from the midnight Communion of Christmas Eve, I would put the bird in the oven and prepare everything else so that it would make it easier later on once I returned from conducting the service. From then on it was a busy schedule of checking that the bird was doing OK, putting the vegetables on a low light and starting to collect the three old ladies to bring them to the house. Whilst they chatted together over a welcoming glass of sherry I would complete the preparations for serving the meal. The table had been laid prior to their arrival and was always a source of delight to them. Once we sat down to eat I would light the candles and the candlelight would make everything sparkle and shine, bathing it all in a warm glow. After the meal was over it was to the lounge for the ladies whilst I cleared the washing-up, and then the next important event for them was to watch the Queen's speech on TV. Finally, after an enjoyable and happy time, I would take them back to their homes and go off to enjoy the remainder of Christmas with friends.

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