WHEN I was a child, Christmas couldn't come around quickly enough. The build-up to Christmas Eve when we hung our stockings up was so exciting.
We lived in a back-to-back house, we only had one room upstairs and one room downstairs.
There were six of us, Mom and Dbut we managed all right.
We didn't have much money, but everyone was the same after the Second World War.
My Mom was always the first in our yard to put our tree up, it was only a small artificial one.
But when it had been decorated with pretty baubles and shiny tinsel and the sparkly star on top, it looked dazzling.
We used to start our preparations early in December.
It was a hive of activity in our house. We used to make all our own decorations.
We made streamers out of brightly coloured crepe paper, pretty lanterns, and silver bells out of the foil from milk bottle tops.
We then decorated our downstairs room and by the time it was finished it looked like Santa's grotto.
It looked so festive. We couldn't wait until Christmas Eve to hang our stockings up.
This was the one night in the year when we children were no trouble in going to bed early. Although we tried so hard to keep our eyes open (so we could catch Santa in the act of filling our stockings), we never did, but there on Christmas morning were our stockings filled up with goodies.
We couldn't wait to see what was inside them.
We usually had some sweets and oranges, nuts, crayons, pencils and colouring books, and always at the bottom were shiny pennies and threepenny pieces, which we used to save until the shops were open to buy some treats with.
Things were still very scarce just after the war, but word used to get around when there was a delivery in the shops.
We needed sweet coupons, and used to run errands for a week just to get a 2oz sweet coupon.
Somehow we always seemed to have snow falls, so on Christmas morning we used to build a snowman in our yard, before it was off to visit relatives who all lived locally.
We would then head for home where Mom would have our Christmas dinner ready.
We always had a chicken and plenty of vegetables.
Everyone had an allotment and used to share everything around so that all families had something for dinner. Afterwards we would play with our games of snakes and ladders, ludo, tiddlywinks and snap.
There was no television, computers nor electronic games around then.
But we used to have so much fun and laughter as we all wanted to be the winner.
Teatime was just sandwiches and mince pies as we were still full from our dinner.
It was the one day in the year when we had plenty to eat after scrimping and saving all the year round.
We used to finish the day with singing carols, Mom had a lovely voice and we all used to join in.
Then it was off to bed, tired, but oh so happy, despite our humble surroundings.
I think back to these Christmases with nostalgia, giving thanks to our parents, and aunts and uncles, who, despite going through the traumas and austerity of the Second World War, somehow managed to give their children the best times ever, so that all these years later these Christmases are still in our memories.
Warmest wishes to all Bugle staff and readers for a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.
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