I find myself getting very nostalgic around this time of year. I have thirty years of memories built up. (I’m knocking off the first two years because try as I might, there are just no memory cells age 0-2). And almost all, are lovely.
The first memory I have from Christmas is the year I got a rocking donkey. Not a rocking horse, a rocking donkey. He had long floppy ears and grey scraggly fur just like the real animal. I kept him for years, even pretending to chase him over jumps and long distance hurdle events till about the age of 11.
I knew enough about Santa Claus to know he was a rather large man with a white beard and you weren’t supposed to see him. If he saw you and you were awake, it could mean you wouldn’t get any toys.
“Please Mam, please Dad, please come down with me.”
“Seriously,” my parents muttered from their darkened, no morning light yet, bedroom. “Santa Claus is not there.”
“But how to you KNOW?” I cried.
And so, like the good parents they were, they got up and took me by the hand and brought me into our 1985 sitting-room. I peered round the door, my head coming up to just below the door handle and funnily enough, they were right; the man himself was not there!
In his place, I found the rocking donkey. I was three. He was spanking new. And that was my first Christmas memory.
Noël, aged four was very different. We’d moved from our small terraced house to a tiny granny flat, where we awaited the making safe of our brand new house we were building. My parents and my brother and I all shared a small room, but Santa knew where to find us. He delivered a My Little Pony and Tiny Tears. A day after Christmas my brother pulled the leg off Tiny Tears and forever more she was a Hopalong Cassidy. Of course, there more more tiny tears, this time from me.
Aged five, Santa Claus attempted to introduce a doll. I was having none of it. She stayed in her box, with her blonde bob while I tried to read the books he’d brought. I picked stingy pine needles out of my feet and mother decided that was the last year we’d have a real Christmas tree. Next year, came the non-deciduous type – of the shop variety.
At six, Sylanvian families appeared and my childhood was changed forever more. Christmas’ were pretty predictable after that.
The next time something notable happened at Christmas was the year I started working in a music shop. Here, I found Christmas cheer. Bustle and business, hard work and happiness. Everyone was in good form and I loved meeting all the festive shoppers and eating all the chocolates they dropped in.
After the age of 16, when the fuzzy hair had been sorted out thanks to Santa’s gift of hair straightners Christmas became synonymous with pubs and drink and good craic. There was nothing as warm or as inviting as an Irish pub packed with Guinness riddled revellers. Stephen’s day took on a whole different meaning as Stephen’s night, when I got pulled into a head lock between a group of boy and girl friends to sing AND THE BELLS WERE RINGING OUT…. FOR CHRISTMAS DAAAAAAYYYYYYY.
The first year I and my now husband were going out, he rocked up on Christmas eve with a rake of presents, all for me. There were books and CDs and jackets and boots – I felt spoilt rotten. We have continued this tradition of opening our presents on Christmas eve and two years ago, I gave him the best surprise Christmas present in all the years we’ve been going out, right before our Christmas wedding.
Here are my jumble of memories from Christmas’ past. What would yours be?
- Being babysat by my Granny, as she sat on a hard wooden chair in the kitchen watching back to back Daniel O’Donnell concerts. We were so bored, we asked to go to bed.
- Seeing my mother give my father a wrapped CD for Christmas. This was when everyone only had tapes. ‘You got a CD, by mistake,’ he said, shaking his head in disappointment. Mother produced the massive box with the ghetto blaster in it and said, ‘now you can play it on that’. Oh the joys.
- Watching my brother’s campaign to get past my mother’s decision to lock the sitting room door, due to our far too early rising of Christmas mornings past. (The record was 2.30am) He took every copy of the key he could find and buried them down the garden. On that Christmas morning he wandered in and swiped the key from my parent’s locker and opened the door anyway. No need for the spade that Christmas.
- The smell of cooking turkey on Christmas eve. My mother always cooked the turkey the night before and the smell would permeate the house as we wrapped final presents and watched telly by the fire.
- Hearing my gran-uncle sing O Holy Night at Christmas mass and having the hairs stand up on my neck. It is to this day, my favourite hymn.
- Buying my Dad a 50p aftershave in a pound shop when I was seven and asking him why he wasn’t wearing it, for all the days after Christmas.
- The years when it was cool to wear dangly sparkly Christmas earrings with every outfit
- The year I bought my boyfriend (now husband) a €400 video camera AFTER I had all his Christmas presents in the bag. I just wanted to add a little something. Two words. Celtic. Tiger.
And that’s my list folks. I’d love to hear what Christmas means to you.
These memories are so lovely, particularly love your mums pull back and reveal with the CD. I have been reminiscing about Christmas eve in the pub, everyone was ‘home’ for Christmas and it was lovely to catch up with the years adventures. You had to drink just enough to feel merry but not enough to not be able to get up on Christmas morning.
Aw that’s a lovely memory! Agree with the Christmas drinks, just enough to get merry but not enough to ruin Christmas dinner! Thanks for commenting x
I love these memories – your poor dad and the aftershave! I remember my Dad did something very similar with CDs too, although he put two together under the tree so it looked like a box of matchmakers. My mum opened it last as a result (and then the big box reveal). I still remember ripping the paper off my huge Sindy house – I can’t imagine how long it must have taken my parents to build and wrap on Christmas Eve!
Isn’t it funny what our parents got up to – with all the surprise gifts. Sindy House? Jealous!!
I love this post, I have so many wonderful christmas memories. One in particular is when my mum cooked one of the chickens that my brother treated as a pet instead of food, it was sad and funny at the same time.
Oh my god, that’s awful!!
Lovely post about your Christmas memories! I haven’t actually thought about the past Christmases in a while but I think my favourite memory is when we were kids, my siblings and I would take turns playing “Santa” and handing out the gifts to each person. It was always great fun!
Sounds like lovely memories 🙂
I love this post. My favourite memories has to be going carol singing and dropping off gifts for people and running away. They will always be at the top of the list.
Carol singing, love it! We used to sing carols in school – feel like noone does it anymore. Dropping off gifts and runnign away? Like a stalker santa??!
What beautiful memories especially the ones where you spent it with your now husband. My best Christmas was when I was 10 it made me so happy.
Ah I loved my Christmas when I was a kid too. Innocent times!
Great post 🙂 Christmas has taken on a whole new meaning since having Monkey. I don’t have many memories as a child of our Christmas’s so I am determined to create traditions for him. One tradition which we have taken from my husbands childhood is to open presents after dinner, Monkey has his present from Father Christmas and stocking when he wakes up but has to wait for everything else. This is his fourth Christmas and he’s use to it and waits really well. It also means everyone can enjoy him opening his presents x
Aw it’s great that you creating traditions and special memories for him! Although I’m not sure if I’d have the full patience as a child, and might have stolen them and opened them in the car!!
Christmases of yesteryear always seem to be a lot more special don’t they? Maybe it’s the memories or maybe it’s because the world has changed so much but Christmas just doesn’t feel the same anymore. I wonder what your Dad did with the 50p aftershave?! 🙂
I’d say he kept it at the back of the bathroom cupboard until…. now probably! I don’t think it will ever feel as magical as when you are young, but I guess it’s all about the family chirstmas’ we create now, for our own children, so that they will have special memories to cherish too 😉