Christmas past and present

24 12 2006

When my brother and I were little, we used to place my dad’s old football socks at the end of our bunks.  We would try desperately to fall asleep because we really did believe the threat inferred by our parents that if we were not asleep before Father Christmas arrived, we would not get any presents.  I don’t remember them ever saying it outright, but we both knew what they meant.  We would talk in our beds about everything from presents to quizzing each other about geography (an interest of my brother rather than me but I liked to like whatever he liked so I played along).  It seemed that we were awake for hours although I never remember my parents going to bed and certainly never heard them enter the room, take the orange and white stripy socks and return them stuffed with goodies.  I can still remember the thrill of waking to feel the heavy weight of full Christmas stocking on my feet.  “He’s been” one of us would whisper.  The deal with our parents was that we were not to wake them before a set time (which probably started pretty early but got later as we got older) but we were allowed to open and enjoy our stocking presents in the meantime.

Usual stocking fare was the following:

  • A satsuma
  • Chocolate money
  • Some kind of puzzle toy (probably aimed at occupying us for as long as possible)
  • A Sindy doll or Action Man
  • Nuts

When it was time, we would argue about who had to knock on our parents door to see if we were allowed to get up.  When we were a older, we would make tea to part-bribe, part-guilt our parents out of bed.  We would then go downstairs to the tree to open the big presents.

Fast forward a few years and then you get a slightly more sedate but no less fun Christmas morning experience.  The post-Santa, post-adolescent Christmas in my parent’s house was a refined affair.  I usually still woke pretty early compared to usual but now my parents would definitely be up first.  Mum would be preparing things for dinner in the kitchen, Dad would be doing jobs and mooching about.  Both of them would be dressed and waiting for breakfast.  One of them would hand me a mug of tea: the bribe now needed for my brother, who has lost the excitement of Christmas somewhere between age 10 and adulthood.  I would tentatively coax him from sleep and from bed so that we could all have breakfast before getting to the opening of the presents.  By the time we were all around the tree, it was about 11am.  The Ceremony of Carols would be playing in the background and Mum would emerge from the kitchen with a tray of canapes and Dad would bring glasses of champagne.  I would then kneel by the tree and give out the presents so that we each have something to open.  It has been five Christmases since I have been at my parent’s house on Christmas Day and tomorrow we will be there to experience my family’s Christmas.

Over the past couple of years,  I have grown to love the Christmas that my husband knows and loves.  I am so excited to be able to share ours with him for the first time.

I hope you all have a very merry Christmas, however you celebrate it.




One response

26 12 2006

We also used my dad’s socks–he had size 16 feet–and had the same rule about “quietly” enjoying the stocking loot.

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