Meredith asked me at supper what was the first Christmas present I remember.
I’m not as good at remembering my childhood as she is.
I do remember the joy of anticipation waking up Christmas morning and feeling the weight of the now brimming stocking resting at the end of the bed–my parents’ keep ‘em busy while we wake up solution to kids’ five a.m. insomnia.
I also remember retrieving, with a full arm, the perennial orange at the stocking’s foot, with a double sense of disappointment. Too soft to be a cricket ball and the knowledge that that was it, for several hours to come.
We were not allowed into the drawing room until eleven o’clock, where the real stuff was piled ’round the tree.
“We” meaning my brother Peter (six years younger) and me.
The gap between finishing up our orange juice (the oranges didn’t go to waste), bacon and eggs, toast and marmalade–and eleven o’clock was interminable.
A watched clock always runs slow and the contents of the stocking had a limited interest span.
AT LAST the key was turned and we pushed passed Dad into the coal-fire warmth of the drawing room–(central heating was only something my mother dreamed about)–assessing the size of the piles round the sweet pine-scented tree, willing the larger ones to be ours.
This was the early fifties. Rationing was still in operation for some things (including sweets!).
Dad worked for British Railways–our parents did us proud on a limited budget–and we went by train everywhere.
I loved trains.
I wanted an electric train set.
This is the present I remember: An electric train set by Trix–(not Hornby, which everyone had!)
Dad set it up in the Dining room (very cold, but I didn’t mind) and we all spent the rest of the day on our stomachs!
I’m kidding–Ma went off to the kitchen!