Saturday, 17 December 2016

A Christmas sometime between 1955 and 61

I don’t usually do nostalgia, but this week is an exception.

So for all those who grew up in the 1950s and 1960s here is a selection of the presents that came into our household each Christmas from 1952 till 1963.

They are not in any order and lean heavily on my own child hood experiences, but I bet they could be replicated by many who read this.

And for those whose childhoods came later there will be in another post, with images of Barbie Dolls, the Bay City Rollers and Mud annuals, along with scaletric, my little Pony and the Turtles, including all four sourced from the cellar.

Of course if I wanted to really revel in nostalgia I could invite contributions on the upstairs of Quarmby’s, the sparkling and  groaning shelves of Woolworths and that paradise for all ages which is Toys R Us.

I don’t recall doing the storehouse Father Christmas and think we avoided it when the lads came along, but I have always been a sucker for Christmas trees.

They have to be so big that you end up chopping a bit off the bottom, come from a forest somewhere and have a mismatch collection of decorations which are as much about past Christmases as they are about elegant design and appearance.

Only recently I gave up on the multi coloured tree lights and went with the wishes of our Josh that they should be all one colour.  And every year we still put the Christmas angel designed by Saul somewhere near the top.

That said there is always that debate when to buy the tree, too early and it runs the risk of losing its needles and too late and all that is left are those sad two foot specimens which have a bit missing in the middle.

But the event is as much about family traditions as anything so despite being 29 Ben will still get a Beano album in his stocking and Luca a selection of wine gums, fruit pastilles and the odd Kinder egg.

And because I grew up in the 50s and that pretty much has frozen in time the Christmas I like, we shall bring out the Monopoly board, insist that everyone tries a selection of the festive nuts, and gather to watch “It’s a Wonderful Life.”

That said there will be the addition of those nice things to eat that Tina grew up with at home in Italy, at least three phone calls to Varese during the day and a visit from Ron and Carol.

All that and the Christmas football match which the boys and their friends play for half an hour on the Rec sometime after the presents and before the big meal.

It is a tradition which they have played for as long as I can remember, and over the years the event has pulled in friends, and anyone who is around the house on the day.

But mindful of my responsibilities I stay indoors, tending the fires, laying the table and reflecting on past family gatherings.

That said a few things have changed.  Back in the early 1950s we still attached candles to the tree, went out for a brisk walk up to Peckham Rye and ate directly after the Queen’s broadcast.

Not that it ever seemed to snow back then either.  But as they say be careful about what you wish for.  Back in the afternoon of Boxing Day in 1962 the snow fell across Peckham, New Cross and Eltham, and continued for months.

Pictures; from the collection of Andrew Simpson

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