Sunday 23rd December
Christmas day was so anticipated, and not just for presents – though these were far fewer in number and sophistication than today – but for the food and the general party atmosphere. You started thinking about it after Bonfire night I suppose, as the nights got darker and colder and ice formed out of the condensation of our breath on unheated bedroom windows I would gaze out of mine onto fields and trees and wonder what Christmas would bring this year. And I had no idea? It was always a complete surprise. There was hardly any TV advertising – I don’t think we got ITV until the early sixties, quite contentedly managing with the one channel – and there were hardly any toyshops as such. Woolworths had a few toys bought in for Christmas and there was one electrical store Stannards which sold bicycles too. You had to go into Ipswich to see any real toys, and that was a rarity. In fact my Dad made a lot of my toys, and my mum made dolls outfits for the few bought dolls my sister ever had.
You went to sleep just like the children in the poem ‘The Night Before Christmas’ and dreamed not of sugar plums but probably the rich and bittersweet taste of Christmas Pudding. We used to have a pillow case at the end of our beds, and despite our excitement would always miss our parents silently retrieving, filling and then replacing them at the foot of our beds. As dawn crept up, or usually long before that I would wake and shouting to my sister drag my pillowcase into Mum and Dad’s bedroom and there on their bed we would open our presents, at least the ones from Mum and Dad. We were usually sent back to bed for an hour or so before the real day began.