Posted on December 18, 2014
I was in Sainsbury’s yesterday, picking up some Christmas booze for my clients when I got interrupted by some old chap who, at a guess, was in his seventies.
“When I was young, me and my dad used to pick up our Christmas tree on Christmas Eve and that was that. Now it starts in October.”
He then went on to say something along the lines of being lucky if in his day he got a clip around the ear and a bag of chestnuts for a gift.
Quite why he chose to pounce on me I am not sure but as he got on to the obligatory “Just watch, come Boxing Day the shops will be full of Easter eggs” topic, I made my excuses and disappeared.
Christmas is a classic example how nostalgia plays tricks on us, reminding us of alleged better times and when I got a text from your ex wife suggesting, as a present, I hand over cash to my fully employed son so he can go to Amsterdam for New Year, it did feel like it has lost its meaning somewhat.
No patterned jumper or tangerine for George, just a wad of notes so he can meander around Europe’s premier red light district off his head on hash cakes. Of course there is an element of jealousy that I have handed the debauchery baton down to him, but I still feel that the spirit of Christmas is getting lost somewhere.
What will he say to his kids when he is older? “Eeeh, you don’t know how lucky you are. When I was a lad, we were lucky if we got a wedge of cash to spend on strippers and class C drugs…still, we were grateful for what little we had, there were no trips to the moon then.”
My childhood memories of Christmas are somewhat chaotic and on the whole revolved around what time the pub shut, with my Auntie Janet getting absolutely smashed on sweet Sherry before disappearing into the night on a push bike whilst my mother eventually lost the plot whilst carving a bone dry turkey, threatening to violently dismember my dad with the knife as she did so.
My Mother and I Enjoying a Late 80’s Christmas
It was like a pantomime really, one that was watched in stoical contentment by one or sometimes both my grandmother’s who didn’t bat an eyelid at the chaos around them, probably because post war rationing had taught them to enjoy the feast that was on offer.
The evening, enhanced by the short days of December, went on forever as all the adults periodically fell asleep amongst the smell of burnt out Scalextric cars and snapped Subbuteo players, waking only for some more boiled ham and yet another mince pie.
As we got older and the grandparents died off, my mother, who was always in need of company, would invite lonely pub types back and feed them, her Christian spirit shining through.
Then, when we were in our late teens, the evening became a refuge for my friends who were only to keen to risk the potential of a Christmas homicide scene at the hands of my dad, who had spent the last eight weeks brewing barley wine. I remember waking one Boxing Day morning to discover bodies everywhere.
Some things never changed though and as far as I recall, mother continued to threaten my dad with the carving right up until she died. A tradition that lasted over 40 years.
Nostalgia may not be what it once was but I have to confess that I do long for the chaos of the Christmases of my youth as opposed to to the orderly hand over of cash that it has become.
Eeeh, when I was a lad it was the Subbuteo club edition and a pair of pyjamas, unless of course, you were a spoilt little shit like Jimmy Witts. He got the Stadium edition.
However, I’m not bitter, I’m just dreaming of a white Christmas, just like the ones we used to know.