My 1960s and 1970s Christmas
Christmas at Cobblers Cove hotel, Barbados
Christmas at home in North Norfolk
I`m dreaming of a Christmas without Christmas adverts.
One of ( many) reasons we watch very little TV ;bring on the boxed sets and DVDs of films, is that we hate, apart from most of the trash offered, the advert breaks and the adverts themselves, and watching Downton Abbey last night (no ,I`m not proud), I was once again shouting at the television about the poor, repetitive, very long, intrusive when you really want to watch something, predictably ghastly `Christmas adverts`. I don`t care if it`s John Lewis, Debenhams, Aldi or `your` blooming M&S, I HATE them all. It`s a sign of the times when we revere images of Coca Cola lorries festooned in Christmas lights, and we get (and people are doing so, I am reading it every day on Facebook), emotional, `shedding tears` over penguins sitting on the end of the bed. I really think there is a touch of Emperor`s new clothes going on here. Everyone is getting on that old bandwagon. Clever marketing it maybe…the `have you seen the new John Lewis Christmas ad yet… I wouldn’t mind if it was good. It isn`t .Same old music, and same old middle England, middle management, politically correct, suburban imagery. Not stylish, not even properly nostalgic, and certainly not clever. Very average. And all I am seeing is the `I shed a tear` and so on. I didn`t. Am I missing something. No, I don`t think so. My life doesn`t revolve around television. I love shopping, but mostly online ( most of our Christmas food is bought in the village) to avoid the shops, the crowds and the whole commercial razzamatazz, that for me, spoils it all.
We all love nostalgic imagery and looking back at our Christmas pasts, and I guess more and more I like to keep it simple. Less commercial. Have ( and use) some imagination please.
I grew up in the `60s and `70s, with snowy winters, ( always ha ha),Bing Crosby singing White Christmas, The Morecambe and Wise Christmas Show, a real Christmas tree with glass baubles, and a Christmas stocking fit to burst at the end of the bed ( not a rather dubious looking penguin), a few presents under the tree and a `main ` present, homemade ( not shop bought from M& S, Tesco, or anywhere else for that matter) Christmas cake, mince pies and Christmas pudding .I used tobe so excited on the 1st December because I could open the first window on the Advent calendar . Now of course it seems to be compulsory to have one full of chocolate, or vast three dimensional affairs with doors that open to a present for each day. What nonsense. I was satisfied with a bit of glitter and a picture of a robin. This is why I think I still try and recreate the same simple pleasures today.
When my son was growing up, we were fortunate enough to spend most years in Barbados en famille, for Christmas and New Year, ( we have now changed the tradition and go in January), so I am sure his childhood Christmas memories are probably more of the sunshiney kind. But we had the same lovely traditions there every year, Christmas stocking on the bed, carols around the tree, we left an apple and a biscuit out for Father Christmas, who of course knew that we were in Barbados, because my son had written to tell him. We had Father Christmas arrive on a speed boat, and we had turkey et al; we just had it in the sunshine. Fabulous.
Before school broke up, I would spend hours making (non-flammable) nativity costumes, being artistic and inventive-not popping to the supermarket to buy a luridly coloured , same as everybody else has affair.
And now? Well, I make one trip to London as I love going to the Conran Shop to see their Christmas displays, the other store windows I am happy to spy from a taxi, and I can buy a few bits and pieces at my leisure, knowing it has mostly been done online. We have a real Christmas tree, ( and no I don`t spray it with Elnett hairspray like my Mother used to, to stop the needles dropping, as it then smells of…well hairspray, not the lovely Christmassy pine smell). It is choc-full of decorations bought each year since my son was born, vintage ones bought on Ebay, precious delights bought on many holidays-so the tree ( atop which sits a 1960s fairy ,complete with crepe paper frock, just like the one I had as a child), and it is our story, and as we unwrap each bauble from its tissue paper, we talk about when and where it came from. Lovely memories. Our house maybe all white, but the tree isn`t, and I am always very proud of it. I make a cake, a pudding and well, everything else. Me, I wouldn`t go to ghastly Iceland or wherever to buy ghastly canapés, encouraged , once again by television advertisements.
I love watching few favourite Christmas films, White Christmas of course being number one, we love an early morning walk on the beach. We go to the magical Carol service at Waterden Church, and then well its feet up for a few days…And of course I would love proper snow.
We won`t be watching TV, we won`t be going to the sales, and I can promise you that despite all my ramblings I am not really that cynical and non festive!
Oh and one last thing, every child should read one of my favourite books ever. The Christmas Book by Enid Blyton. It`s cosy, it`s Christmassy, it`s also informative.It`s perfect.
And no Coca-Cola, no frozen canapés, no penguins…