Having read the stories of Swubird and found them so interesting and heartwarming, It inspired me to write about some of my childhood experiences, growing up in the 50’s in London. It will be a series of blogs that will last for as long my memory allows :O) I will include photos wherever I can.
This is a photo of my family in the early 50’s. I had six siblings – four sister and two brothers. The tall chap at the back is my eldest sister’s fiancé. Me? I’m the little one on the left of the photo and second to youngest.
As WW2 had only been over a relatively short while, we were still recovering as a country, and things were scarce. Various items were still rationed and we used ration books of coupons that you tore out and handed in before you could buy certain items of food. As we were a large family, mum would swap the ‘luxury item’ coupons with friends, for the more basic food coupons so there was enough to go around. They were tough times for most people.
Christmas in our house in the early 50’s
The smell was unique, it hung around the house for many days leading up to this exciting and magical time. Each day would be filled with more anticipation than the previous day until we were almost bursting. It was Christmas in our house. The smell! I couldn’t say what made Christmas smell so different, but it did.
We had all sent our letters off to Father Christmas. We wrote them out on pieces of paper, folded them up and mum helped us to send them up the chimney. The sparks that flew up the chimney when the fire was disturbed were the fairies that carried our letters up to father Christmas. What had we asked for? Not a lot. We didn’t have a lot and we didn’t ask for a lot either. Maybe a doll, some coloured pencils, a toy car for the boys. Small things were enough. The magical time was what was important, not so much what we got.
Christmas Eve upon us, us youngest five were ushered to bed, buzzing with excitement and anticipation for what the morning would bring. Once we had reached that ‘Not quite asleep but almost’ stage, dad would creep up into our bedroom dressed as Santa to say hello and ask if we’d been good. We never guessed it was dad! By 6am (the latest) we would all be clambering down the stairs knowing that something really magical had taken place whist we had been sleeping.
On entering the room we would see a row of stockings all weirdly out of shape due to the various presents stuffed inside – books, coloured pencils, sweets, dolls, cars, spinning tops, colouring books and all sorts of little gifts. The familiar fruit that always stuffed the toe of each stocking, nuts, an apple and an orange. That smell, even stronger now, filled the room! Us girls bubbling over with anticipation, eyes skimming around the room, looking for our very special present that came every year. There they were, all hanging in a row. Pretty party dresses, each different, with our names pinned on to our very own dress! I can’t remember what the boys got in place of the dresses. Our glee as we all took our dress and examined it, holding it up to our bodies and twirling in excitement at what we were to wear later.
Then the frenzied attack at our stockings! Mum and dad looked on with such love and who knows what else in there hearts, as we shrieked with pleasure at everything we got. Each one of us rushing to them with every item saying “Look what I got!” Mum and dad looking very interested as if each gift was a surprise to them too.
Mum and dad, who had only been in bed for about one hour when we rushed into their bedroom, waking them up to come and join in our excitement. Mum, who had sat night after night making those pretty dresses for us and dad who had worked and worried so hard to get all the little presents for us. We believed everything was from Father Christmas, therefore mum and dad never got our thanks, just immeasurable satisfaction from watching us and knowing that all their hard work had been worth it!