I watched an old animated version of A Christmas Carol at School today. Scrooge was voiced by the great Alistair Sim.
It’s the first bit of Christmas spirit I’ve felt this season. It was itself like a visit from the Ghosts of Christmas.
Its early I know but not as early as the Christmas tress that have appeared lit up in the local garden centre. Its well and truly here in the shops and on the TV.
This cartoon of Dickensian cheer I watched, always a favourite in any format, got me thinking about the festive season when we were kids in the Sixties.
A sort of Ghost of Christmas Past moment, where Scrooge is swept along in the sky to moments long gone.
I'm on the slip-road to 60 now and my memories are hazy at best. I so wish I could clean them up, remove the fog and sharpen the images. I have feelings more than memories I think. A feeling that Christmas back then was a huge celebration involving lots of people all coming and going from the house all December long.
People like my parents’ friends, Aunties, Uncles, Grandparents, cousins and of course my siblings. I was the youngest of five and early on in my life my eldest sister was married so I had a Brother-in-Law too.
My second Sister married shortly after and by the late Sixties I had two Brothers-in Law, by which point I also had a nephew and a niece. Yes, by the close of the Sixties when I was 10 I was already an Uncle!
Being an RC household there was a crib displayed on the monk’s seat in the hallway next to the GPO telephone. Little pot figures of the holy family set in straw. They were surrounded by cute pot animals like cows and sheep. At its centre was a pot manger.
I adored that crib, which nestled into itself all Advent and Christmas and I have no idea what happened to it. I hope its coming down from the attic again somewhere soon but more likely its waiting to be displayed in the deep darkness of landfill.
We also had lodgers in the house. Dock-men who worked on Preston Docks in the warehouses and the cranes. It was a fabulously atmospheric and maritime place the Docks, an exotic fortress of steel, brick and briney water where huge ships emptied fruit and goods day and night.
There were exotic spiders too, snuck in on the bananas and tales of fanged tarantulas hiding in the webbed sheds kept me enthralled. At the stroke of New Year all the ships would sound their loud horns and we knew the year had turned full circle once more.
I adored Christmas Day. So much that I would try to recreate the jumble of prezzies I got on the settee again on Boxing Day. It was never the same. They were all unwrapped but it was an attempt to recapture the magic of Christmas morning. In many ways this blog is me still trying to recreate that settee full of Christmas toys after all this time.
I recall virtually every toy I ever had and over the last ten years I’ve shared these with you. I also remember the odd gift I got other people like a book of silver assay marks for my Mum and some car wax and a shamee for my Dad. Somewhere I may have a list from one year of what I got my family and I know I have a gift tag I made depicting a Shogun.
The meals, the movement, the family, the songs, the programmes and the conversations have all gone but the feeling I have for that time is kept alive and well. My Sixties Christmases still burn strong. Like glowing embers in the grey carbon of the past they illuminate my way through the dark winters even now and hopefully will do for years to come.
Are you thinking of the coming season?