Wednesday, 25 November 2015

Thoughts of Christmas in Lausanne Road on a wet November day

It’s that time of year when thoughts of Christmas begin to take over.

And more than once I have caught myself muttering that each year the Christmas adverts on the telly along with advent calendars, baby Christmas puddings and the first Christmas trees make their appearance in our local supermarket just a little earlier than the year before.

But that is to look at the whole thing from a grownups perspective.

If I was still living in Lausanne Road in 1956 I know that Christmas would have already begun to sit on my shoulder.

Of course the commercial hype was less obvious, but shops would have been full already of Christmas stuff.

In an age when many of us still made our own Christmas cakes and puddings the local grocers would have had the signs up offering the festive fruits and perhaps even the accompanying reminder of stir up Sunday which is traditionally the last Sunday before advent.

Now this year the first Sunday of Advent falls on November 27 which means I have missed Stir up Sunday which was the time when everyone was supposed to gather in the kitchen to stir the pudding mix making a special wish at the same time.

I can’t be sure but 1956 may well have been the last time mother bothered with making our own cake and pudding and that will also be about the time that we switched to an artificial tree all of which are stories for December.

But even though the decorations along with the Christmas cards were still some way off there was no escaping the onset of Christmas.

It started in the playground with the endless discussions on which comic annual was the best, moved on to gazing into the local toy shop window and pretty much then became a countdown which of course began with the last day of school.

Now apart from the winter of 1962/3 I can’t remember a Christmas holiday with snow and while I could go looking for the records I’ll leave that to someone else to do instead plenty of other memories have bubbled to the surface, ranging from buying in the packets of do it yourself paper chains, to discovering the larder filling up with foods that we only got at Christmas, some of which were never eaten and ended up being thrown away in March.

And along with the start of the Christmas holiday for us in Lausanne Road it was the arrival of Uncle George which signalled the event was imminent.

He arrived a few days before, would take me up to see the Christmas lights on Oxford Street and would stay for the January sales.

And even before then dad would have been working away on the kitchen table through the long winter nights making a mix of home grown toys.

There was the year he made four identical baby cotes for my four sisters, all a different colour along with the castles he made for me with towers, battlements, drawbridge and portcullis.

Now that really was the slow slide towards Christmas.

Each evening each toy would have advanced a little further ready for the day and while I often saw them in construction Dad managed to have spirited away the finished thing ready to be a surprise.

That magic has never left me and while our own children are now all grown up I do have to confess a growing anticipation as November moves in to December.

Pictures; more recent Christmases, from the collection of Andrew Simpson

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