Christmas Is Coming

Christmas goose
“Christmas is coming and the geese are getting fat
Please put a penny in the old man’s hat
If you haven’t got a penny, a ha’penny will do
If you haven’t got a ha’penny, then God bless you!”
I have talked/written before about growing up in London during and after the Second World War.
During those years, Christmas was a very special occasion.  Not for us the mad consumerism that is rampant now – there was very little to buy.  But what happy memories I have of those days.
In memory, it always seemed to snow on Christmas Day.   We would rise early to see what had been left in the stockings and pillowcases at the foot of our beds.  Our stockings always held an orange.  A rare treat in those days when one couldn’t buy fruit from around the world or fruit out of season.  I don’t know where these came from.  In the stocking would also be several small things.  Maybe a bar of chocolate or a packet of sweets, remembering that sweets were rationed during and after the war.
Ration books

via Wikipedia

Rationing was introduced in June 1940 and ended in July 1954 as was phased out gradually over five years beginning in 1948.   Sweet and sugar rationing continued until 1953.  For more on rationing click here

Our pillowcases were the next to be explored.  There would be a book, puzzle or game that we had commented on during the preceding weeks.  Perhaps a gift from a particular aunt or uncle would also be included but no bright wrapping paper.  Just the presents in the pillowcase.

Then when we would all have breakfast together.  I don’t think this was any special breakfast the way we have now.  Just the normal fare with perhaps eggs or bacon if the ration stretched that far.

The three of us girls would then go to church for the Christmas service.  I know that Mother didn’t come having been raised in the Jewish faith, but I don’t remember Father being there either.  However, once church was over Father would take us on the bus to visit his Father and family.  This was always a good time – but no presents were exchanged – just the fun of having so many cousins all together.

Cooked goose

Back then to our house for Christmas dinner.  This was always goose, never turkey.  I don’t know how they managed this with rationing, and perhaps my memory is playing tricks.  Perhaps it was only in later years that we had goose.  But I have never eaten goose anywhere but in my parents’ house and if I think hard, I can conjure up the smell of it cooking.  In fact, I can smell it now!

The afternoon was spent as a family, playing the games we had received as presents, or everybody reading their new book.  There would be imported dates and is this is the only time I can remember having dates as a child, dates always remind me of Christmas.

How simple and innocent were those Christmases so many years ago.  No mad rushing around the shops for all the presents; Father and Mother bought a gift for each of us only.  I don’t recall their ever having bought a gift for each other.  Perhaps their gift was seeing the happiness of their three small daughters.

We certainly wouldn’t want to return to those days of austerity, but often, in the midst of the hurry and scurry for Christmas, I think back to those more simple days and am glad that I experienced them.

“I have always thought of Christmas time, when it has come round, as a good time; a kind, forgiving, charitable time; the only time I know of, in the long calendar of the year, when men and women seem by one consent to open their shut-up hearts freely, and to think of people below them as if they really were fellow passengers to the grave, and not another race of creatures bound on other journeys.”
Charles Dickens.

Christmas tree

Image via Wikipedia

18 responses to “Christmas Is Coming

  1. Thanks Judith for sharing your memories about Christmas. In Germany we had rationing too. For Christmas dinner it was goose, red cabbage and ‘Thüringer Klösse’ (dumplings made out of raw grated potatoes and then cooked in simmering water). I remember my grandmother making these dumplings out of 10 Pounds of potatoes. To make dumplings like these for the whole family was a pretty time consuming task!

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  2. Unfortunately today no ha’ penny gets you booted out the door and no bless you.

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    • At this time of the year ie Christmas it must be very hard for the homeless and for people in most parts of your country, the misery is compounded by the fact that it is winter.

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  3. lovely Christmas memories of a simpler time for sure. I think more and more of us long for that. enough of the crazy shopping I say.

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    • I like the excitement of shopping and of course, the memories. But I hate all the consumerism. Here in New Zealand where Christmas is in the summer, we are greeted with fake snow and Christmas carols, many about snow and sleigh rides, in every shop. ‘Enough of the crazy shopping” indeed.

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  4. jacquelincangro

    What a nice reminder of a simpler time when there was no “Black Friday” shopping madness to interrupt the peacefulness of the season. Hopefully we can all strike a nice balance this year.

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  5. Thank you for reminding me of the joy of simple pleasures and to enjoy the things that are truly important. A very refreshing post.

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  6. Beautiful memories . . . and lovely quote from A Christmas Carol. 😀

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  7. Thanks for sharing your Christmas memories, Judith. I was born into a more prosperous time, though some years there were lay-offs at the coal mines where my dad worked. But our aunts and uncles saw to it there was always something under our tree on Christmas morning. There may not have been much sometimes, but there was a lot of love.

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  8. Judith, keeping Christmas simple is incredibly important to me. I am doing all I can to teach my two boys that time with family is the most important part of the holiday, alongside doing for others. In fact, Father Christmas does not come to our house. I tell the boys that he goes to where the needs are greater. Simplicity – an important part of the holiday.

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    • Oh I do admire you for keeping Christmas simple. I cringe when I see the consumerism and the over indulgence to children that happen on this day. I love that your boys are told that Father Christmas goes to where the needs are greatest. 🙂

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  9. Pingback: I am just thinking | I choose how I will spend the rest of my life

  10. Pingback: Christmas is Coming | I choose how I will spend the rest of my life

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