]At the beginning of WW2 my mum Joyce was just 13 years old and her brother Colin was 15. They were a musical family, mum was a singer and her brother a talented pianist. As soon as he was able, Colin joined the Merchant Navy and travelled all over the world. It was obviously a very worrying time for his parents, who had both lost relatives in the First World War, but they tried not to show their fear for the sake of my mum.
Granddad was a member of the local Working Men’s club, where lots of events were held to keep people’s spirits up. It was the week before Christmas and the club was holding a talent night, they all went along and were enjoying the show.
The lights were dimmed and they heard a voice singing “I’ll be home for Christmas”. Looking up at the stage they saw it was Colin – he had called at the club for a drink on his way home, saw it was a talent night and decided to surprise them. As you can imagine there wasn’t a dry eye in the house.
Every time I hear that song I think about how they must have felt and can’t help shedding a tear or two myself.
© Suejmog 2007
We children born during or immediately after the Second World War had much to be thankful for. Most of us still had a father who came home, but there were many who didn’t have that joy. At our little village infants school there were several mums who’d lost their husbands in the conflict but they struggled on nonetheless. Christmas in those early times after the war was parlous to say the least, but there was a spirit of community then which doesn’t seem to exist these days.
My dad was a mechanical engineer. He had gone into an apprenticeship at 15 and then progressing to the ‘big Honcho’ in later years, but sadly died at the relatively young age of 61. Although he never had a son, he was always encouraging of girls and boys to do whatever they could with their hands. “Best tools you’ve got, nothing like a steady hand and a firm one” he used to say.
In 1950 when I was 6 years old, England still wasn’t firmly on an economic course again and there were very few toys for children to be had, but Dad made things happen.
With his best old schoolmate, who was by then his right hand man at work, they set up a workshop in our garage to make Christmas presents for as many girls and boys as they could. They even got the ladies involved and they wove the wicker to make little prams for the girls. The grandmas and great grandmas knitted dollies. The bus company he worked for gave him permission to have every bit of metal that was superfluous to the company’s needs for Dad and Vic to make Meccano type things for the boys.
I have such happy memories of those post war Christmases because I was allowed to play with everything that was made, but I was probably furious that they were all given away – typical selfishness of a little child! I think I probably went overboard when I gave my tricycle to the window cleaner’s son, probably thinking that Dad would make another one. Mum laughed about that episode for years!
Dear Dad and Vic were certainly good old chappies. There aren’t many of them to the pound nowadays. When my dad died there were at least 350 people at his funeral but I guess that’s what happens when you make Christmas special for everyone.
©Cherry Tradewell 2007
My mum was the step-daughter in the family from the age of 7 and wasn’t liked very much by the rest of the family.
I remember her saying to me a few years ago that she hated Christmas time when she was a child because it meant she wouldn’t get a lot.
Quotation she hated Christmas time when she was a child because it meant she wouldn’t get a lot. Quotation
She told me, “I didn’t like Christmas when I was young because I would get a packet of beads, a book and a piece of fruit and Bob and Jane* (step-siblings) would get lots of things – clothes, cars, trains and track, dolls and pram etc, whilst my presents fitted on the arm of the chair”.
It was because of how she was treated as a child at this ‘happy time of year’ that she made sure myself and my sister didn’t miss out on things and we always had lot of presents, even though money was tight. One year we both got Barbie dolls and loads of clothes, not bought ones but hand knitted. We had pants and socks, skirts and dresses, coats and trousers to name a few, all in a wide range of colours, and they were really nice.
I have picked up a tip from my mum and start buying bits in the January sales! I then continue throughout the year as and when I see things. If I’m honest I’m probably the biggest kid in my house!
*step-siblings names have been changed
© Yummy-Mummy-of-2 2007