Tuesday, 18 December 2012


Me, Hannah and Sally at Roz's surprise birthday party!
I've not written a blog post for a couple of weeks, the main reason being how busy we all are in the run up to Christmas. Having recently attended a surprise birthday party in fancy dress - which was a first for me, actually, followed by my own birthday which on included watching one of my step-grand-daughters in a dance show and then singing in our Musical Society's Christmas Concert, this week is no less busy! After spending a couple of hours on Sunday morning tidying up, cleaning and putting the chairs out at the theatre between us, Keith and I were running the final rehearsal last night for the Junior Section's performance at our annual "Oscars Night" on Wednesday. Straight after that we rehearsed (rather badly, I have to say) for the adult section's next play. Tonight, I am singing again in our second Christmas Concert with Hull Musical Society, tomorrow night is the aforementioned Oscars Night, Thursday will be spent building the set ready for the January play at BADS, Friday is allocated last minute shopping and wrapping presents - although I've yet to wrap the gifts for the children at drama for tomorrow night, having bought them on Sunday.

I wrote our Christmas cards on Sunday evening/Monday morning - posted yesterday. This year I've only made a few, having had less chance to do any more, so the rest of them, which I bought, are charity based. I may even stop sending them next year - lots of people donate to charity instead or simply do not send them, but I must admit I still like to receive a card through the letterbox!

Last night, Keith took the photo we will be using in the poster for our next play - he is currently manipulating it ready for when I design the poster a bit later on.We are performing "Fringe Benefits" which is a comedy by Peter Yeldham and Donald Churchill. It is the very first play I performed in at BADS nearly 23 years ago - this time round I am playing one of the older wives instead of the scantily clad young female I played back then!. Where did those 23 years go???

On Saturday 22nd I will be at my last craft fair of the year- at the UpMarket in Prospect Centre, Hull. I have not yet made any new stock so my table may be spread out a fair bit! Sunday 23rd we will be looking after my 3 year old niece, and plan to take her to see the Christmas Tree display in our village church in Preston. It's always an excellent display and I'm sure she will really appreciate it this year as she is really, really excited about Christmas!

Christmas Eve may be a relaxing day, although I'm sure I will still have some presents to wrap and we will probably spend some time planning our festive quizzes for when the family are here over Christmas!

I will leave you with the reading I have prepared for the concert tonight, considering it's apt:

The first thing that came to my mind when I was asked for Christmas memories from my childhood was an overwhelming sense of excitement. I think I felt it more than my brothers and sister because my birthday is only ten days before the big event itself.

Specific memories of mine relate to the pleasure of giving gifts and the disappointment of one year in particular – the year I desperately wanted a horse for Christmas. Watching Black Beauty on the television probably influenced my desire, and I couldn’t understand why I didn’t get one. I thought it would be easy to keep a horse in our little back garden (we lived in a terraced house) and had vivid visions of me trotting along down the ten-foot and round the block on my personal steed!  I remember Mum trying her best to explain how impractical (and costly) the idea was, but it took me a while to appreciate that fact.

I particularly loved giving gifts to family members, especially ones I’d made myself. I started a tradition of making sweets to give as gifts, and look back with such happy memories of spending time in the kitchen with my Mum to make them. I would create batches of peppermint creams and coconut ice. I never liked coconut ice, but loved making it – particularly the part where I added the food colouring. Mum encouraged us to think of presents for others that we believed they would appreciate, and for some reason I will never forget being proud of a pair of red, spiral shaped candles that I spent 19pence on for an aunty!

Food and family were a big part of my childhood Christmas – combining the two for Christmas dinner when our Grand-dad, Grandma, Nanna, Great Uncle Fred & Aunt Olive all joined us. I honestly don’t know how we all squeezed round the table in those days, or how my Mum managed to cater for everyone, but she did so without fail and our Christmas days were happy times – until the arrival of the sprouts. I’ve always disliked them; despite trying them in different ways (disguised in a cheese sauce, for example) and my Christmas dinners will probably always be sprout free!

I have two brothers and a sister, so we used to share the opening of the advent calendar – although I always opened it on my birthday, whether it was my turn or not! On Christmas morning, it was usually a race between me and my younger brother, Daniel, to get downstairs first to see if “he’d been”! We continued this up to the time we were adults, and that excitement is still there when I wake up on Christmas morning.

I can clearly remember one or two of my favourite presents from my childhood – in fact I’ve still got one of them now. “Connect 4” was my main present in 1974 and I have played it again recently with my 3 year old niece, Charlotte. This game of strategy and planning is somewhat simplified with her, however – I think her favourite part is letting the counters out at the bottom when the game is finished (or more often than not, whenever she feels like it).  I also remember getting a “Potter’s Wheel” one year, which I was so pleased with, but I think I expected to be creating masterpieces in my first attempt, so was quite disappointed with my misshapen mound of mud! My other memorable gift was a creative game called “Construct o Straws”, which I’m pleased to see you can still get today. This game involved connecting many flexible plastic straws together to make as many different shapes and constructions as you could. As with most of our childhood games, we usually shared them, and I think we all got a lot of pleasure from that game. 

We used to put our Christmas tree up and decorate the house with streamers and/or tinsel as close to my birthday as possible – that’s a tradition I’ve maintained to this day. The whole family were involved, I loved arranging the little felt elves on the Christmas tree. These elves were three dimensional, with porcelain faces (I think) and long, spindly legs that could be tucked under their arms at the front.

Christmas seemed to go on forever when we were children, and there would nearly always be some sort of party on New Year’s Eve at our house or a neighbour’s house. If it was held at our house, we got to stay up really late and Daniel and I soon worked out that if we were quiet enough and stayed under the dining table, we could stay up even later – out of sight, out of mind, I think!  I always remember loving it when my Nanna started to play the piano at these parties – most of the songs I didn’t know at all, but the adults did, and used to sing along with her. Over the years I got to know the songs – a lot of war-time classics such as “We’ll meet again”  “The White Cliffs of Dover” and  “White Christmas”. Although I didn’t really like them at the time, when I hear them now, I feel quite emotional.

Christmas in the 1970s wasn’t complete without watching the TV “Specials” as a family. We loved Morecambe & Wise, The Two Ronnies, Some Mothers Do ‘Ave ‘Em and The Generation Game. All firm favourites in our house, and in those days, I actually liked watching Sir Bruce Forsyth on the TV, so much so that I longed to go on “The Generation Game” with my Dad, but it never happened.

If I had to summarise my childhood Christmas memories in one word, it would be “magical”. That’s what Christmas should be for children and I’m glad to say that mine always were.