A week tonight is Christmas Eve; I remember from my childhood that this was when excitement reached its height… in a way more than waking on Christmas morning was the anticipation on Christmas eve… desperate for the time to pass so my sister and I could go to bed with an empty stocking at its foot. The Christmas tree would have been bought today and decorated – it was our tradition to do that on Christmas Eve, paper chains would be pinned to the picture frames, lovely smells of mince-pies and other nice things ould come from the kitchen … all was ready for Christmas!
A mince-pie would be put on a plate in the hearth of our open fire for Father Christmas to find when he came down the chimney, and a glass of sherry to warm him up! Then at last it would be time for bed; I expect I would tell my sister stories in the dark, and maybe we would sing some Christmas songs or Christmas carols to each other… and then at some point, we would, eventually fall asleep!
When my own children were small it was like reliving that same excitement all over again through their eyes; at that time we lived in Oldham but we would come down to Somerset to the family home which we had kept and my aunty and uncle would arrive, my mother-in-law would join us, and we would try and keep the children up long enough so that when they did go to bed they would sleep… so that meant walks round the village looking at the decorations on other people’s houses, counting Christmas trees in their windows, going across the fields to collect hay for Rudolph and the reindeer…. and then… and then the mince-pie on the hearth and a glass of whisky for Santa! It didn’t mater that we had no open hearth and a gas fire in the fireplace, father Christmas would manage!
Christmas Eve is still important to me, as if I can sense those other Christmas’s stretching through the past like a chain of fair-lights into my childhood!