23 November 2022
Memories of a childhood Christmas in Aberdeen and the excitement of a visit from Santa Claus.
On Christmas Eve during the war years, I always hung up one of Grandad’s socks under the mantelpiece. It was perfectly safe for Santa Claus to come down the chimney as the coal fire in my tiny bedroom was never lit even in the worst of an Aberdeen winter.
A visit from Santa Claus
In those days, Santa wasn’t as generous as he is now. He brought me, not what I really wanted, but what I needed. Nevertheless, finding the sock full of goodies on Christmas morning was always exciting. I got an orange, some sweets, a few silver thruppenny pieces, some colouring pencils, maybe a book and perhaps wellington boots or a new cardigan.
Apart from Santa’s presents, great-aunt Flora never failed to send me a parcel and Mum stood over me as I wrote the obligatory thank-you letter:
Dear Auntie Flora, thank you very much for the pretty (horrible) crocheted collars (or scratchy hand knitted woolly vest or multi-coloured bedsocks or tiny, useless lace handkerchiefs) you have sent me for Christmas. I really will enjoy wearing them. Your loving niece, Lizzy.
Much more exciting were the big parcels with the colourful stamps all the way from Uncle Henry in Australia just after the war. They contained picture books about Australian wildlife which I still have in my bookcase after 66 years, nylon stockings for Mum, dried dates and tins of pears and peaches. He once sent me a beautiful painted boomerang. All the kids in the street loved playing with it, but I couldn’t make it work as I was left-handed
I enjoyed writing my long newsy thank-you letters to Uncle Henry, telling him all the family news and saying how much fun I was having with the boomerang.
One day, I hoped I might go to Australia but I never did.
By Liz Strachan. Originally published December 2012. Reviewed November 2022.