1950's - Christmas Time
How we youngsters spent our Christmas Days
Imagine a world without Computers, Mobile Phones, Game Consoles, a world where only half of the population have a TV Set, about the same amount with Cars, a Telephone and you're somewhere near the mark of the 1950's.
Then you have, for the first few years, a Nation still buying rationed food and kids who got six of the best at School if they weren't performing. It sounds centuries ago doesn't it - and for me, it feels it!
For families, Christmas time was much the same as now, except your Aunty and Uncle arrived on a Train rather than a car. Christmas Cards were sent not like now, just to make a gesture that you remember someone, but it was for many the only form of communication; a note would often be attached and rest assured it was not the only note you received during the year.
I remember the Christmas times well. On Christmas Eve we would go to my Grandmother's house in Tonbridge, Kent. We would arrive to the smell of burning logs and my Grandfathers Pipe. The walls would be decorated solely with Holly and the real Christmas Tree stood aloud lit by candles, as in proper one's (the Fire Brigade were busier then!).
In the evening we would sit around the Grand Piano with the Candelabra and my Grandmother would lead us in festive music. This was fun, she had once played Piano for the silent movies in the local Cinema and could turn her hand to pretty much anything.
Whilst this was happening, the Yule Log would gentle glow itself away.
Our presents were strewn accross the lid and my sister and myself would look on inquisitively at the shapes wondering what we'd find the following morning.
We would venture up to bed and sit there for quite a while listening for Sleigh Bells. Of course, we always heard them, but I looking back I have to say they did sound remarkably similar to the Door Bells in the Kitchen.
The morning would come and here starts more of the differences. If we were very lucky, we may get 6 presents just one each from immediate family. Through the decade, bearing in mind we didn't get older so quickly then, I'd usually get a Rupert Annual, an addition to a Meccano Set etc. I recall the biggest present of all during the 50's was probably a Brownie Camera - in a Gift pack don't you know!!
My sister would get the usual Dolls, Girls Own Annual and other girlie things like Hair Grooming sets and pretend Cosmetics etc.
For weeks after, you would go to bed and neatly stack your new things next to your bed, always putting things back in boxes and in constant fear of a Burglary!
Christmas Day has remained much the same as in the food you ate etc., the big difference being that the vegetables would have always come from your own Garden.
Even the Milkman called on Christmas morning and you would be surprised that he saw the end of his Round, it was quite normal for him to have a tipple at every house.
Although there was TV, it was only in the late 1950's that 'Christmas Specials' started, these being mainly imports from the USA such as the Perry Como Show, Andy Williams etc. From the UK came Tony Hancock and very early Six Five Specials (popular music with Lonnie Donegan, Cliff Richard and others).
Much to the enjoyment of my Grandfather you would get a Laurel and Hardy slot, maybe Buster Keaton and a Cartoon.
But the TV was a minor part of Christmas. Parents and their's were usually busying themselves with domestic duties whilst the Kids immersed themselves in their new Toys and Books.
I wonder how many families now get through a Christmas Day without 24/7 TV, text messages, some time on the PC and Ipads!
Another factor was that Christmas did seem a special day. It didn't start in late September as it does now, it started just a few days before the event and for me, that made the actual day itself not just an anti-climax to all the preparation. The only thing to start early was baking the Cake usually sometime in November and searching a Yule Log.
Life, culture and society changes and so it should, but I guess those of any age always class their childhood Christmas's as the best ones !