Saga writers do a lot of looking back to the past for their writing, so with just a couple of weeks left until Christmas, I asked some fellow authors to look back at their Christmas memories. A very warm welcome to Elaine Everest, Fenella Miller, Jean Fullerton and Nicola Pryce who are sharing their favourite Christmas memories.
Elaine – “For me Christmas is bittersweet as we lost Mum not long before Christmas when I was approaching my 18th birthday. However, looking back many years later I can see that I was lucky to have such a magical childhood. Money wasn’t plentiful but we knew how to enjoy the season. Each Christmas Eve Dad would take me by train from our home in Slades Green, Kent, up to Woolwich in south east London where we would visit the open air market to buy nuts and fruit. It was a few hours when I was with my dad and I have fond memories of our chats. Of course every time Dad stopped to talk to a friend I informed them it was my birthday and was rewarded with a shiny sixpence. Being the late fifties It was the time when everyone had real Christmas trees and even today fifty plus years later I only have to breath in the aroma of a fir tree to be transported back to that special time spent with my dad.
Back home we would stop at the Railway Hotel while Dad had a quick pint while I sat on the bench outside with a bottle of orange and a bag of crisps – do you remember the blue twist of salt in each packet? Often I was rewarded with another sixpence from family friends. Then we headed home where Mum had everything ready for my special day and the turkey was already in the oven. With curtains drawn again the early night sky and sitting around a blazing coal fire we would settle down to enjoy Christmas and my birthday.”
Elaine’s next book – Wedding Bells for Woolworths will be published on March 19th and is available for pre order now.
You can chat to her on her Elaine Everest Author page on Facebook or on Twitter @elaineeverest
Fenella “My best Christmas memory is when my brother and I had to cross London on our own by walking, bus and then tram to get to our Junior School. We passed a shop in Camden Town that sold household items – in the window was a tea set – white, gold edges and orange flowers. It cost 19s 6d. The shop put it by for us and we paid for it for weeks out of the pennies we got for pocket money. We were eight and ten years old. When my step-father died sixteen years ago there were still two side plates in his cupboard.”
Visit Fenella’s website to find out more about her books at http://www.fenellajmiller.co.uk/
Jean “I was born a decade after WW2 ended and shortages were very much part of my everyday life even at Christmas. We lived in a one up one down workman’s cottage a stone’s throw from London Docks with the debris from the Blitz all around us. My father worked on the Ford assembly line at Dagenham and my mother was at home, so money was tight. I only ever had one Christmas present under the tree and just a tangerine and a couple of sweets in my stocking, but I never felt hard-done-by.
Once we’d been to church on Christmas morning, we would go to my Nan’s house a couple of streets away, for Christmas dinner. The no frills dinner we all sat down to looks very basic compared to what we have for our festivities nowadays but remembering my Fullerton uncles, aunts and cousins laughing and joking around the table brings back such joyful memories.
When the plates were cleared away the piano lid was lifted for our home-grown entertainment. My father who could play most instruments by ear, played as everyone did their ‘turn’. I can’t remember every song that was played but the one my Aunt Nell sang sticks in my mind. It was an Al Jolson song entitled, When I Leave the World Behind. It brings a tear to my eye and happy Christmas memories flooding back to me whenever I hear it played. Alas, that generation of my family are long-departed, and times change, but family doesn’t. When my family sit around the dinner table each year, I tell them of the old-time Christmases I enjoyed when I was a child.”
Visit Jean’s website to find out more about her writing and books at http://www.jeanfullerton.com
Nicola “I have so many happy memories of Christmas but one particular Christmas Eve springs to mind. It was 1976 and, as a first year student nurse on a men’s medical ward in St Bartholomew’s Hospital, I had spent a mad half-hour rushing down the long rows of sleeping patients to make sure the wheels were all pointing inwards, the lockers were straight, and the dressing gowns were all neatly folded over the arms of the chairs. Matron would soon arrive to do her round, and everything must be shipshape. She arrived bang on time and I stood up with the usual rush of fear, but something was different. She was wearing her cape inside out so the red lining was showing, and over her arm hung a huge wicker basket full of tangerines and gauze bags containing nuts and chocolates. She waited while I reached for my cloak with its own red lining and handed me a large cotton wool dressing which I shaped over my ears to match the beard she slipped on. I couldn’t believe how lovely she was, nor how happy it made me feel to walk proudly by her side. I placed a tangerine and bag of goodies on each of the perfectly straight lockers while she examined the charts at the foot of the bed, but like all good Father Christmases we said nothing, just smiled and giggled and tiptoed on silent feet. It was magical, especially when I returned to the desk to find my very own bag of nuts and chocolates.”
Visit Nicola’s website to find out more about her books at https://nicolapryce.co.uk/
Thank you everyone for sharing your special memories and I wish you all a very Merry Christmas and all good wishes for 2020.