The following prose poem was written reflecting back on my childhood days when aged eight. We lived in a small village in northern Hampshire, the village and surrounds were the totality of my world. December and Christmas was always a magical time. There was that anticipation of early snow though it seldom fell before Christmas Day. Snow completely transformed the local village scene and it was always fun to get out and play in the white environment. Christmas was equally magical because of times with family and the sharing of presents. I have tried to highlight a few specific memories in the stanzas below. Of course Christmas completely changed the world in a much deeper way but at that time I had little understanding of the significance.
Christmas is always something magical.
At least it is for me because of early childhood
days. They have continuing home-life warmth
emphasised by the northern hemisphere cold
of December and the walking of narrow country
lanes in the search for holly with red berries.
Coming home from school late in the afternoon
and looking from the dining room bay window.
The air imperceptibly perforating as a soft watery
substance touched the glass and seeing the moist
dabs as they coalesced into droplets sending
a sequence of random runs down the pane.
Occasionally it would snow before Christmas.
Watching the slow parachuting drift of the first flakes
as they disappeared before my eyes and waiting
patiently for firmer definition on the window,
and becoming fixated with the formation of
each imprint before testing for uniqueness.
In those days we had a real Christmas tree with
electric lights which didn’t always meet expectations.
Many hours were spent making chain decorations
which drooped across the room from pelmets and light
fittings. One year the tree was planted in the garden
and over the years it grew quite sizable.
Christmas Day was the culmination of days of preparation.
The traditional end of bed pillow-slip presents and
turkey and trifle, but the closeness of immediate family
is always paramount. I remember my older brother
making me a fort with a draw-bridge. The lounge room
floor was the playground for toy soldier battles and
this became an impressive centre piece for play.
On Boxing Day we usually hosted extended family. They
often had to brave bleak conditions to reach our place.
My uncle Norman had a motorbike with a sidecar and
at times this was used to ferry grandma. The small
kitchen table was brought into the dining-room for
the little children to sit at for their Christmas feast.
After the meal it was recovery time in the lounge.
Often with a musical flavour for my mother
was quite adept at the piano. And we had a ‘Pianola’
that would transform holes into the playing of keys.
The screening of family slides coupled a staccato
of rueful comments with much laughter and tears.
Yes, Christmas is always something magical.
And of course the distancing of the years embellish
the memories of those precious childhood days, so you
could say ‘Happy Christmas’ is engendered by
simply a mind recall. Hoping your Christmas Day is
a real happy one. Merry Christmas!
Richard Scutter Christmas Day 2019