When I see the advertisements for Christmas presents on the television, I cannot believe the prices shown or the actual gifts that people wish for/expect – TV for the bedroom, i-phone, laptop, games console – even a new game is £45+. To me, brought up in the fifties and sixties, these are household items to be saved up for or worked for, or go without.
I can remember one Christmas when my younger sister and I were the delighted recipients of china dolls, baby size and dressed alike in blue gingham dresses, little knickers and mob caps. We didn’t know, or care, that these dolls were second-hand and had been scrubbed clean by our father, whilst our mother, who hated sewing, had made all of the clothes herself. The dolls went everywhere with us and were much loved. Goodness only knows where they are now – lost in one of our many moves, I expect.
In that non-PC era, I never got what I really wanted – a Meccano set. Dad said it was a boy’s toy and my brother was too young for it, so we couldn’t have one. It might have been too expensive as well but a child doesn’t care about what it costs. Maybe one day I’ll get my Meccano set, if they still make it in these plastic times. (I just Googled it and they do, so I’ll have to add it to my Christmas wish list for my 69th Christmas.)
My father died when I was 12 and mum tried hard to keep everything together for the three of us, including making Christmas special. One of my abiding memories is of receiving a Painting by Numbers one Christmas; it kept me very quiet for three days, when I had finished it and wanted another! That item was on my Christmas list for many years to come and, to be honest, I would be delighted to get one now, at 68!!
Another Christmas memory is receiving an LP of Cliff Richard “Cliff Sings”. I must have been 14 that year and I still have the album, not that it gets played very often. My main point is that we didn’t get many large items in those post-war years, mainly a large sock full with nuts, oranges, some sweets once sweet rationing ended, and small toys like a French knitting kit.
How many children will remember their main Christmas present after 54 years?
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