Sunday, December 24, 2006

Christmas Memories

Memory One

I have in a box on top of the wardrobe, along with three ancient teddy bears, a little artificial Christmas tree, green branches with red berries set on a little red wooden block. My mother bought this for my first Christmas, of course I don’t remember that as I would have been only four months old. My first real Christmas memory is standing on a street corner, in Leicester where I was born, clutching a toy which I had been asked to donate to another child whose family couldn’t afford presents or perhaps it was going to a child in an orphanage – I just remember a large vehicle stopping and a man taking the toy – I can’t remember what toy it was. Not that we were a well off family, far from it, but my father had a job with the city council as a patisserie chef cooking for Lord Mayor’s functions and city events so at least we had a regular income.

Memory Two

Cut to Shirebrook in Derbyshire and my grandma’s house. I wake up, upside down in a small bed on the floor of grandma’s bedroom. I am hot, sweating, bright pink and the skin is peeling from my hands, grandma is trying to untangle me from the twisted sheets and cool me down with a damp flannel. I have Scarlet Fever. In the room next door my mother lies ill with an allergic reaction to sedatives administered by the doctor. Grandma, widowed only the year before, now has to cope with a newly widowed daughter and a granddaughter who had lost her father. I think I’ll forget this Christmas.

Memory Three

On to the village of Scarcliffe in Derbyshire. Mum has married again and we have left the city behind and I’m now attending a small village school where there are only 35 pupils. I am to be an angel in the school nativity play and the day of the dress rehearsal dawns. It is a very cold morning so Mum dresses me in warm clothing including the regulation vest and liberty bodice over which are my school blouse and pinafore dress topped off with a thick, home knitted, doubled breasted, cardigan. The teacher places a white sheet with a hole for my neck over these clothes and then adds a halo and some huge paper wings. I am then lifted on to the top of the stable. The rehearsal goes on and on, the headmistress makes us sing the same carol over and over, I feel hot and slightly strange and very hungry. The next thing I remember is coming round and finding myself laid out on a dining table in the school hall, teachers flapping round me. Apparently I fainted, fell off the top of the stable and scattered the shepherds and their flock across the stage – no one was physically hurt – just my pride. Thank goodness it was only the dress rehearsal and not the actual performance.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Time Wasting - again

I was up at 4a.m. tending to a sick cat so feeling slightly strange this morning. I have so much to do and so little time to do it in but still I'm messing around on here - borrowed this from Sissy's blog - hope she doesn't mind - wish I could unfurl some angelic wings and fly down to the bank to get some cash then on to the surgery to collect my prescription then to the library to take my books back, I could be home in an instant to sort out the laundry and tackle the ironing - but I suppose my feet will have to work hard instead

You Are an Angel

A truly giving soul, you understand the spirit of Christmas.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

A Day Out

After the dreadful wet day we had experienced on Friday, Saturday was a glorious day of bright sunshine coupled with a seasonal nip in the air. We set off on our day out about 8.30.a.m and drove through Ashbourne, Matlock and Clay Cross, down to the Heath roundabout and up to Scarcliffe. We bumped into a relative as we pulled up to park in front of the church, she'd been putting a wreath on her first husband's grave. Harry was one of Dad's younger brothers who was killed down the pit in the 1970s. We donned wellies to go up into the churchyard as it was very wet and muddy. After placing our Christmas wreath on Mum and Dad's grave we drove over to Bolsover Castle for a warm cup of coffee and then spent a wonderful hour looking around. It was a long time since I'd been inside the castle and only the third time I'd been considering I lived for many years only two miles away.

When we had finished our visit we drove up to Chesterfield and had lunch with my sister and brother-in-law, swapping cards and presents and then set out to pick up my niece and her children and it was off to the family party where we met up with my other niece and her family and many members of my brother-in-law's family whom I hadn't seen for ages. The children were entertained by a circus act who showed them how to juggle, spin plates and ride a uni-cycle amongst other things and then Father Christmas arrived and all the children received a present and a cracker before quiet descended as supper was served and little mouths were silenced as food was consumed. Their little faces shone with happiness and delight.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Just Ordinary Things

Days are rolling by that are filled with ordianary, every day things that, however small, need to be done in the count-down to Christmas.

Yesterday I wrote out all my Christmas Cards and typed up all my letters and got them ready to post, that's one thing I can tick off my ever growing list. Today I wandered down to the post office and posted them. On the way back I chose a rather nice holly wreath to put on Mum and Dad's grave when we go over to Scarcliffe on Saturday and then on to Chesterfield for a family get-together and present swapping. Still on the list are a few last bits for presents to take with us.

When I got home I made some jars of Christmas Chutney from the recipe on Nigella's Christmas Kitchen show last week. I'm definitely going to make the Mulled Cider on Christmas Eve. How does she manage to make food look so wonderful and sensual? Although I hugely enjoyed the glamour that is Nigella my favourite TV programme this week just has to be 'Housewife, 49' written by and starring Victoria Wood. The acting was superb and the story of Nella Last - not so ordinary housewife - had me laughing and crying at the same time. Victoria Wood has excelled herself with this one.