Page 70 - Phonebox Magazine December 2016
P. 70

Memories of Christmas
Phonebox decided to ask local ‘celebrities’ about their earliest memories of Christmas. The answers may surprise you.
Deirdre Bethune (Councillor)
My early memories of Christmas are really more memories of Sintaklaas. My parents were Dutch and so we celebrated Saint Nicholas eve, which is still a big celebration in the Netherlands.
We used to sit around waiting for Zwarte Piet (Black Peter), politically incorrect of course, he would appear, in fact only a blackened hand, and knock on the door and throw sweets into the sitting room which we would rush to gather up. This
would of course be my father who would then come and join us. We all got a solid milk chocolate letter, the initial of our name. They were big! We were sent all sorts of goodies from family still in Holland; speculaas, spicy biscuits that were delicious; ginger bread men/women that were moulded on wooden boards that we sometimes helped prepare. And then we would sit and sing songs in Dutch about Sintaklaas. I’m sure we celebrated Christmas too but my early memories are more of this. Happy times!
Claire Woods (Vicar)
Age appears to have muted my early memories of Christmas, although this may be the legacy of my 5th Christmas when I mistakenly drank my Great Aunt’s peculiar tasting orange juice. My earliest memories are  lled with the excitement of our family
customs, the daily opening of a door on the sparkling paper advent calendar (BC – before chocolate). Making and hanging homemade Christmas decorations, paper chains and snow akes, whilst leaving a paper trail of confetti that lasted long after Christmas. Visiting St Albans as a brownie, attending their Carols and Christingle services and the beauty and awe of the candles shining in the dark as we left the cathedral. Writing letters to Father Christmas to post up the chimney, the same chimney that caught  re on Christmas day, two years running, and the sharing of our Christmas lunch with the  remen on each occasion. The thrill of the early Christmas mornings, when we located our stockings at the bottom of our bed that had morphed into pillowcases overnight bulging with gifts from Father Christmas including the obligatory oranges, nuts and crackers always hidden in their depths. Christmas days  lled with extended family; sung carols, shared cooking and the unbelievably long wait for the arrival of the Queen’s speech at 3pm. Critical as its conclusion signalled the beginning of our meal, and the game of chance we played as we took our seats at the precarious ad-hoc, occasionally failing, table structure. Servings of burnt Christmas puddings, the result of repeated brandy laden attempts to produce a  ame for the would-be pro-photographers, were placed with a hidden sixpence in each bowl. All was concluded by the distributing of family presents, shared ‘thank yous’ and after the compulsory game of charades, and perhaps one of my grandmother’s wondrous meringues, sleep.
Ian Roberts (Musician)
My earliest memory of Christmas: I had asked my mum and dad for a Chopper bike for Christmas and they had sat me down and explained that times were tough, my dad was on strike at that time and money was going to be really tight this Christmas, I understood but I couldn’t help still wanting one,
lots of my friends already had one. The night before Christmas my dad came to my room and said that he was really sorry that he couldn’t afford the chopper bike and that hopefully the strike would be over soon and he’d do all he could to buy me that bike. I went to sleep wishing things were different. When I woke up in the morning I went down stairs before anyone else, when I opened the front room door I almost exploded with excitement because sitting in the middle of the room was a beautiful brand new chopper bike, I ran upstairs and jumped on my mum and dad’s bed and kissed and cuddled into them telling them how much I loved them until I remembered my new shiny bike was downstairs, so I  ew back downstairs and I went out in the snow on my brand new chopper bike, my head held high full of pride riding up and down our street with my dog who, incidentally, I had dressed in my favourite Celtic football shirt to keep him warm running along by my side; we both must have looked a right proper sight, happy days.
John Van Weenan (Author and Charity Worker)
Christmas 1944, I was three and a half years old and I remember lying in my bed on Christmas Eve imaging I could hear Santa’s sleigh bells. They had a high pitched whine, then the bells stopped ringing and all went quiet. Suddenly my bed began to shake – I knew nothing about doodle bugs at that tender age.
Dave Pibworth (Writer and Actor)
My earliest memory of Christmas is queuing up to see Father Christmas at Allen’s of Olney and thinking how remarkable it was that Father Christmas sounded so like Les Fairey, the owner of the shop. (A delightful man I might add). Another memory of seeing Father Christmas was
at E.P.Roses in Bedford, now Debenhams, when a child in front of me kicked Father Christmas on the shin – with some force – and Father Christmas took a swing at the child saying “Oooh, you little sod”. I think we went to Bedford on the train, so I must have been very young, but it made an impression and to this day I’ve always steadfastly refused to perform as Father Christmas.
Mike Barry (Ex Newport Pagnell Mayor and now Radio Presenter)
“My sister is three years younger than me. My birthday is the 27th December and hers is the 26th. After she was born I vividly remember my father taking me in the car to collect her and my mum. Of course, he left me outside in the car (as you could
in those days) while he went in to collect sister and mum.
However, sadly for me, my nappy slipped down and they returned to a screaming son, not quite knowing what to do with a nappy round my knees!”
70 Phonebox Magazine | December 2016

   68   69   70   71   72