I have such fond memories of Christmas past. I loved Christmas as a kid and it seemed to take forever from one year to the next.
The same battered brown cardboard box of decorations sat high in a cupboard in my older brothers bedroom. Mid year we'd take them out and have a sneaky look at them. 'To make sure they were ok' was our reasoning, but I loved looking at those decorations. They were different times. People didn't seem to have colour schemes for their trees. The decorations were all mismatching but a lot of them had a story. Tinsel we got out year after year. Threadbare in parts through age, or stuck together with cellotape from where it had been stuck up the years before. Decorations I'd made at school mixed with ones from Dad's work. He worked in textiles and at Christmas the office girls would sometimes make things with off cuts. My Mum still has them. A snowman that sits in the window every year. Every year we always wonder if he'll see snow.
Decorations were less tasteful then. Mismatching garlands hung from the ceiling with bluetack and lights ceilotaped up, both constantly falling down. The same lights that every year would stop working and my Dad would be there like a toy maker with his soldering iron, making everything OK.
Every year we'd take a trip to Thieves Wood near Mansfield for a real Christmas tree. As a kid I thought we'd travelled miles. Winding our way round the tree lined road, it seemed magical. We'd spend ages picking them up to find our perfect tree. Hands freezing in frozen stiff, sap covered gloves. Dad binding the tree with string. Me and my Brother being all excited and wanting to put it up as soon as we got home. Dad saying it had to sit for a while to open out.
There were no fancy tree stands. A bucket with bricks and soil was bought into the house. We'd add water to try and keep the needles on longer, despite the inevitable fact that every year by Christmas Day our presents would be covered in a sheet of pine needles. I still remember the smell of damp soil as I wrapped Christmas paper round the bucket. The smell of pine in the house, the rash on my hands from handling trees.
For Christmas music we relied on my parents vinyl collection, meaning the sound of Christmas was scratched LP's from Johnny Mathis and Jim Reeves played over and over every year. I can still hear every scratch and jump.
There were no Amazon wish lists. We'd circle things in Argos catalogue. I was scared of seeing Santa to tell him what I wanted though. I don't remember why, even though he was only sat in the Co-op.
Christmas time at School was one of the few times I enjoyed going. Singing Christmas songs, Little Donkey, When Santa Got Stuck up the Chimney. Making decorations; toilet roll Santas - My Mum still has one I made when I was 8. I like to think it holds some kind of record for the oldest surviving loo roll in existence.
We'd always do the run of visiting relatives and delivering presents . The smells of the different houses - baking, a pipe, cats I was allergic to. Trying to peak at the presents in the car. feeling physically sick with excitement
Christmas Eve we'd pick my Great Aunt Nell up from Loughborough to come and stay with us. The excitement of knowing the dog would be stopping with us - even though I was slightly allergic, and my hands, still not recovered from sap rash and cats, would be raw. I also knew that when we took her back home after Christmas I'd be able to pick a new annual from WH Smith.
On the trip back to Nottingham, as the dog jumped from knee to knee, we'd count the Christmas trees we could see. There wasn't many outdoor lights then, in fact my Brother would walk me each year to look at the one and only tree on our estate that had lights.
I must have been a good kid because I don't remember dragging my parents out of bed too early on Christmas morning. I'd lay awake waiting for Mum and Dad to wake up. The taste of hot sweet tea given to me by my mum in her dressing gown as she tried to make us slow down opening the presents.
Christmas stockings containing chocolate when the stockings were made of netting. Eating chocolate between opening presents. Taking it in turns to open a present. Waiting while Mum started dinner so we could all open another gift. My Dad would put his in a pile. He was soft like me and it used to move him emotionally that people had bought him gifts and he'd have a tear in his eye.
Morcambe & Wise would be on the TV or Noel's Christmas presents where he fly round in his helicopter delivering gifts. Yes, I'm old enough to see a helicopter and still say out loud 'That's Noel Edmonds!' We'd look forward to Christmas specials and the big Christmas Day film that the whole family would gather together to watch because it would be it's premier.
For Christmas dinner. we'd sit round the table, always sat in the same place. Pulling crackers made of crepe paper.
Stopping up as late as possible because you knew once you went to bed that Christmas was over, and of course, it was forever until we could do it all again.