Monday, 22 December 2008

"Ghosts of Christmas Past"


Visitors all week-end has meant "blog-on-back-burner". When they had all gone at 3.30pm yesterday, I switched on to blog and found mind so clogged up with decorating, cooking, entertaining and washing bed linen that I read a few of my favourite blogs and then switched off. I must say it was quite surreal reading Mad Bush Farm's blog for Monday December 22nd, when it was only 5pm on Sunday, December 21st here!

This morning my mind is much clearer and is not yet clogged-up with today's ephemera and my eyes lighted on my Christmas Silver Bells. They are a good fifty years old, yet them come out fresh, shiny and "ringing" every Christmas as they have done for all those years.

Christmas seems to be a time for remembering - maybe because it is a focal point in the year, we can often remember what we did over the festive season. So I sat with my cup of after-breakfast coffee and cast my mind back to Christmas past.

First to old Christmas tree ornaments. My mother used to wrap each one carefully in tissue paper and put it in the "tree box" at the back of the cupboard under the stairs. This box would be carefully brought out every Christmas eve, when we would unwrap each decoration and greet it like an old friend. Our tree grew in the garden and was dug up each year, brought into the house, then planted outside again. I think we used the same tree every year but memory plays funny tricks as you get older, altering facts to suit the situation - so maybe we had a few. But we would carefully put our decorations up - you had to be careful as those thin glass ornaments were so very breakable. There was a tiny, shiny gold trumpet, a jade-green glass fish with silver scales, a little silver house with red windows (how i loved that one - best of all). Then we would clip the metal candle holders on to the tree, put in the little spiral red candles and light them - just for five minutes - and watch carefully because of the fire risk. Then they would be put out and never lit again (we even kept the candles from year to year.) Reading through this I realise how many times I have used "carefully" - well it was like that. Those ornaments were very fragile and not only could we not afford to replace them but also they became such objects of affection that we didn't want to lose them.

Then I got to thinking of specially memorable Christmasses and I found that they all melded into one, so it was hard to select special events. But one or two stand out.

The first Christmas with our son, in a cottage in the country, when he stood up for the first time and let go of the furniture, wobbled but stayed vertical and beamed at us as much as to say, "Look at me, I've done it!"

The first Christmas without our son, when, suffering from Empty Nest Syndrome we found it all very strange.

But there is no doubt about my most-memorable Christmas. It was in the early 1940's, I was a small child and my brother was away at war. On Christmas eve we brought in the tree and got out the ornaments, and put on the trumpet, the little glass fish, the silver house - but my mother's heart was not in it. My brother was away and she didn't know where he was or even whether he was safe. Both parents made a big effort, I suspect for my sake, but we went to bed with them in sombre mood.

In the middle of the night there was a loud banging at the back door. Mother and father got up. It was war-time and there was blackout - so the situation must have been quite scary. I remember standing at the top of the stairs, crying at the noise, and father telling me to go back to bed. But of course, I didn't - I too came down stairs.

Father unlocked the back door and opened it and there on the step stood my brother, his glengarry cap at its usual angle, his kit-bag at his feet - he had somehow wangled a few days leave and hitched a lift and walked the three miles from the nearest town - and here he was.

That was our best Christmas ever and my mother never forgot it and spoke of it until the day she died.

My blogging may be intermittent over the christmas period as I have visitors quite often - but may I wish anyone reading this a Very Happy Christmas and a Peaceful and Joyful New Year.

May we all find time to spare a thought for Iraq, Afghanistan, Zimbabwe, Mumbai - and all the other parts of the world where it is not peaceful, where there are tribulations we can barely imagine. May the situation in all of these places change for the better in 2009.

22 comments:

Dominic Rivron said...

There must have been one or two Christmases since when I've not found it quite so easy to stand up as I did then. :)

Leslie said...

Thanks, for sharing your Christmas memory with us. I hope you and your family have a safe and blessed Christmas.

Sal said...

How I love reading that.
The bit about the Christmas decorations brought it all back to me.Vintage decorations still play a huge part in my Christmas as I've quite a collection on my tree and I'm always on the look out for ones that are a little bit different.
Have a great time ;-)

Pamela Terry and Edward said...

Wonderful Christmas stories!
And we wish you the happiest of Christmases this year!!!

Rachel Fox said...

Good to read about happy christmases. How mothers love their sons (and daughters too of course)!
x

The Weaver of Grass said...

I don't wish to know that, Dom!

The Weaver of Grass said...

Thanks Leslie.

The Weaver of Grass said...

Isn't it funny, Sal, how we place such importance on such tinny things? Can't imagine why really.

Gramma Ann said...

I will be visiting intermittent over the next week or two. The reason being I don't celebrate the holidays, so I busy myself with other things. Have a nice week visiting with friends and family.

Leenie said...

Wondering if your little trumpet was like ours. We had two that were made of thin glass and, at one time, actually had a little reed that made a small "toot" when blown. Of course we children could not resist the magic, and they did not survive many years. Your blog really brought back Christmas past! lol on Dominic's comment

Raph G. Neckmann said...

How beautiful and touching, Weaver. It's good how looking at cherished objects can bring back lovely memories.

I wish you and your family a wonderful Christmas.

Heather said...

What lovely Christmas memories. We have two surviving ornaments which must be 45 years old and I treasure them. We had manic cats which climbed the tree and caused havoc shattering some of the ornaments. We had two Christmases one year, one for us at the proper time and a second for our son when he came home in March, from being on duty with the Army in Northern Ireland. I think we shall all give thanks for our cosy lives this year when there are so many across the globe whose lives are anything but. The online classes are available to anyone who has a copy of Maggie Grey's book 'Textile Translations'. You gain access through Maggie Grey Home Page and then d4daisy which you will find highlighted down the page.

Annie Wicking said...

Hi Weaver,
What a wonderful posting!
What an amazing story about your brother and how wonderful it must have been to have the family all together in such hard times.

Have a great Christmas and I look forward to reading more of your brilliant posting in the New Year.

Merry Christmas & best wishes, my dear friend, Weaver. ((Hugs))

Annie

willow said...

I enjoyed your childhood Christmas memory! Hope you and yours have a happy one! :)

Sharon said...

Wonderful post, especially the story of your brother managing a few days leave for Christmas. What a nice gift.

Let us hope the 2009 brings much peace to the world and that we Americans will eventually earn the international community's forgiveness for these last 8 years by being a positive factor in the world.
Merry Christmas Weaver!

Kyfarmlife said...

Great Christmas story! As usual your blog was MUCh fun today! YEA fox! Glad he was sly! Great picture though! I love the wall post...I SO wish we had an old wall like that around here.....*whine*

Abraham Lincoln said...

You have some beautiful memories to share with us. Thanks too for your visits.

acornmoon said...

Have a wonderful Christmas, your blog is always a delight. I know about empty nest syndrome also.

It must be so hard for parents with children in the forces, I share with you your concerns and for all those poor people who are battling cholera and starvation.

Mad Bush Farm Crew said...

Weaver as always you have a great tale to tell. that was wonderful. I miss my brother who lives in Australia and has a family of his own there. I have some Christmas decorations my grandmother had as a little girl. They're still packed away so I will have to find them and hang them up. I agree with you on the time zone thing. It's very strange bing a day or so ahead of everyone in the US, Europe and the UK.

Peace to the world I say

Merry Christmas Weaver
All the best
Liz

Debra (a/k/a Doris, Mimi) said...

Your stories always touch a chord in my heart, Weaver. I am glad to have come across your blog although I can't recall how it happened.

I can relate to your being an empty nester. Before my daughter and SIL moved to Georgia from Wisconsin, we spent many holidays alone. It was quite lonely although I wouldn't admit so at the time. My holiday memories while growing up are not very happy. So I work hard to create new memories for my grown child and grandchildren so that their memories will be happy ones.

Thanks for sharing so openly of yourself, Weaver. Best wishes to you and your family for an enjoyable holiday season! Sending warm hugs your way.

Pat Posner said...

Lovely memories, Weaver, and a new one to make this year because it's your Tess's first Christmas.

Have a wonderful one and here's to a peaceful 2009
xxPat and Tessa B

Arija said...

Crying over a blog at 6 am ?, and why not, your brother came home that Christmas, mine was somewhere on the Russian front. My father was in Siberia but at that time we knew not if he lived at all. Yes, some Christmases...