Friend's tree 2014
Wise men from Mum's nativity set
Christmas of the Past...
My youngest memory is of waking up to presents at the foot of my bed, unwrapped and left by Santa. For some reason after that Santa started to leave presents under the Christmas tree in our big country kitchen. Perhaps I got the oil paints on the bedspread or ate too much chocolate in the early morning hours. What I do remember is that the season didn't start until December, bar my mother making the cake which took a while to darken and possibly ferment with the amount of whiskey in it. For me it involved writing a letter to Santa, visiting Santa in the local hardware shop and helping to set up the tree. There seemed always to be snow about and I remember the harsh winter of 1962 when my brother and I opened the back door to a six foot wall of windblown snow which we both thought was wonderful.
When the Santa magic no longer happened family Christmases were still good. I had perfected the art of hunting for presents the week before, knowing that my mother who was an Avon representative would have Pretty As Peach and other items hidden in her collection of handbags. I'd look at each, put them back and show my delight on Christmas Day. And I'd have a little spending money to buy some gifts. As a teenibopper I helped with the dinner, loved my mother's homemade bread sauce and my sister's homemade cream of vegetable soup. The meal was served on the dinner service and sherry trifle in the amber glass dishes, both vintage and handled with care. Mass on the day was special too.
looking down to the front gate and the snow fall 2011
I spent the first Christmas in my own house in the 1990s which broke the long tradition of everyone going to our Mum's. Friends came and stayed and the meal was vegetarian instead of turkey. Glasses of wine, sherry and port were enjoyed. Board games were played. An altogether different experience than the Christmases earlier.
After my son was born the focus of Christmas was on him, first with Santa and later on still receiving a stocking at the foot of the bed just for fun. While he was little we visited Santa, somewhere different every year. Debenhams used to have a little railway travelling from window to window which we'd stop to have a look. And a visit 'home' was always made to catch up on family far from the city where I'd made our home. Long chatty phone calls on Christmas Day too.
Snow on the Avenue 2011
Christmas of the Present...
And now my son is long past the age of Christmas being magical. Now he buys me gifts too. It's a laid back day for us but the cupboards and fridge are full and we both raise a glass in celebration over a good meal. The sad thing is that I'm of the age I remember family and friends no longer with us so Christmas nowadays can be coloured with a hint of sadness.
What Christmas means to me is making, crafting and giving. Seeing friends and family over a hot cup of latte (with cream and sprinkles) and having a natter while carols and tunes play in the background. Seeing snowfall and knowing I'll not slip because of my ice grips. Watching old Christmas movies on my laptop whilst snuggled up on the sofa under a warm throw. Sharing laughter with my son and making us mugs of hot chocolate.
Festival of Lights Nov 2105
Christmas of the future...
Wishing for a calmer earth and all its peoples. Tolerance, kindness and generosity of spirit. Everyone celebrating Christmas in their own way as well as freedom to celebrate Diwali, Winter Solstice, Bodhi Day, Ramadan, Baisakhi, Crowning of Selassie, Hanukah or any other time of festivity. No one without a roof over their head or food in their belly. No one under oppression or enduring war. No one feeling alone or without a community.
For me, I'd like Christmases to continue with friends and family, giving and sharing, laughter and joy. To be still able to draw and make. To be still able to join in carols and songs, loudly, even if the dog and cat run out of the room. Knowing that another year is coming to a close while a new one is just around the corner and hoping that it offers opportunities to all.
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