‘Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse;
The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,
In hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there;
What does Christmas mean to you and your family? Happy times? Sad times? Fond memories? Or like me, a mixture of all these emotions.
My memories from my childhood are filled with the house full of people, friends and relatives popping in, all sharing a drink or three with the family. At home, I lived within walking distance to so many members of my family. Both my grandparents lived within walking distance, my Mum’s sister lived around the corner and my Nan’s sister lived a few doors from our house, happy times, you knew absolutely every family in the street. My Nan was always baking all year round but she went into overdrive in December, even now when I open a new packet of butter, that “new” butter smell reminds me of my Nan! The smell of Christmas still lives with me today.
Memories of my Grandad hanging the paper decorations up that they bought in “Woolies”, the old fashioned fairy on the tree, Christmas tree lights that never worked. Aunt Maureen having far too many Harvey’s Bristol Creams. My cousins thinking they were “drinking”, by sneaking a snowball. Far simpler times. Cold mornings and waiting for Grandad to light the coal fire before anybody opened their presents. A stocking filled with fruit, nuts and a little present. Far fewer expectations. Leaving a mince pie and a tot of whiskey out for Father Christmas.
As I grew older and my own family arrived, roles changed and Christmas itself changed. I can remember sneaking around the house at 2 am Christmas Eve, getting in the loft in the early hours of the morning to fetch the kids pressies out and one year having to build a garage until 3 am! happy times! Roles and responsibilities change, as do family dynamics.
My family are now spread far and wide, which makes times like Christmas that bit more difficult, because you can’t always get together. Pressures are greater, the time spent together is far less and the expectations higher. This year more than ever before, families and loved ones will be sorely missed, if you can’t see them over Christmas. If you can do it, hold your loved ones close and enjoy the precious times that you spend together.