I used to love Christmas. Who didn’t? Well people who got very little I suppose.
But I got loads. Loads and loads. There was no big family Christmas get together or meal or anything like that, sometimes just the two grandmothers were there, with my father drinking, in the hopes that eventually they would disappear in front of his eyes.
I loved waking up to my stocking so early in the morning. It was a large stocking and had lots and lots of goodies in it. It always had clementines and some new coins in the bottom. My godmother, an older cousin, had got some made for us all and it had my name on it. In glitter.
One year, I sprung my mother bringing it in, to place it on the end of my bed. I then realised Santa didn’t bring my stocking but I knew he still came down the chimney to bring me all my presents.
He lined them down the staircase, all around the sitting room, in the hall, and – when I forgot to look in the dining room – my parents pointed out that he had put presents against all the walls in there.
Kind Santa. But when my parents knew that I had tumbled to the stocking wheeze they inadvertently let out that he didn’t come down the chimney either.
That moment of disillusionment is pretty sad. There are others in life too, but no Santa ranks pretty highly.
We never got our tree early. We didn’t do the tree up on Christmas Eve thing like my mother’s family did, but it was always after their birthdays in mid December and usually bought on the last Saturday before Christmas.
We had an old (well, 1930s) house, so it was high enough for a big tree. The Saturday when the tree was bought, my mum and I would decorate the tree in the evening, with the record player playing our favourite Christmas carols.
All the precious and some very old and treasured ornaments were carefully hung. Most – rare – breakages were caused by wagging dogs’ tails but not when we were decorating. Then the lights, the tinsel (which my mother loathed), and finally the lovely fairy at the top of the tree.
How I loved that night. Even taking it down by Epiphany wasn’t sad because I could always look forward to next year. Next Christmas. There would always be one.
On Boxing Day, my mother would always give me an extra present. Christmas didn’t end for me on Christmas Day – she made sure that the holiday and the giving extended. There was no let-down after Chrismas Day, there was something else to look forward to.
Many years later, Partner and I visited them in their new old bungalow (which all old people buy) at Christmas. No tree. No decorations. No interest in it. Christmas was always about giving their little girl what they had never had.
And me? Well I’m the same now with my minimalist non-existent Christmas. I have no kids, no parents, no family. What does that lovely Christmas of my childhood mean now? It went a long time ago. Not only that, but December brings back so many memories of my parents, their birthdays on consecutive days (just like mine and Partner’s), the last time I saw my mum in December the year before she died, and my father, who was rushed into hospital on Christmas Eve just before he died shortly afterwards. I remember, too, that Boxing Day when I started my trek back to the UK to see my dying father for the last time. link to earlier blog post here
I would put up a tree if I had the space. I do like the trees. Even small ones can look so pretty. But otherwise? Christmas is a bit of an inconvenience because the shops are shut for too long.