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Thread: A child's Christmas in Wales

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    Senior Member Array Welshman's Avatar
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    A child's Christmas in Wales

    No, not the Dylan Thomas one, but mine.

    It was an age of innocence and we had many myths to take account of. Sion Corn (as he’s known in Wales) would know if you had been a good boy or not and bad boys didn’t get any presents – just a bag of cinders, so we all tried to be on our best behaviour.

    The first taste of Christmas would come in the last days of term at school. We would all sit at our desks making paper chains to drape around the school. On the last day of term as a special treat, we were allowed to bring in toys, comic books, whatever and share them with our classmates.

    The run up to Christmas started much later then. About a week before, all the shop staff would be feverishly decorating the shops with glitter and fairy lights and suddenly the shopping centre would be a blaze of light and colour.

    At home, too, we would all wade in with decorating the tree and decking the house with those concertina paper chain things, holly and mistletoe.

    The Sunday morning before Christmas, there would be a special service at the chapel. It was all done by the children. The older ones would read parts of the Christmas story from the bible while the younger ones would re-enact the nativity. One Christmas, I was asked to be one of the wise men (serious miscasting, I know). My mother had draped me in an ornate tablecloth and I carried a bottle of toilet water as one of the gifts. I seem to remember that the top was leaking and I reeked of perfume for days after.

    Christmas Eve, there was a formality to go through – leaving a mince pie and a glass of sherry for Sion Corn on the mantelpiece of the fire place. Then up to bed and the worse part of Christmas – trying to get to sleep. Sion Corn would know if you were sleeping or not and if you weren’t – well, he’d carry on his journey without coming to your house.

    Christmas morning at last. There was a sock on the bed stuffed with silly stuff like balloons, small toys and, stuffed down the toe, a tangerine.

    Downstairs now and, always, I ran over to the fire place to check the mince pie and glass. Yes, a bite had been taken out of the mince pie and the glass was empty. Silly now, I suppose, but that sight always held me in awe.

    Open presents time. Invariably you hadn’t got exactly what you wanted but it was always good and always enough. Times were much more frugal then and we were grateful for what we’d got.

    Another ritual I loved was going out of the front door and standing outside the house. In those days, Christmas was for immediate family – no-one went anywhere. No planes, no cars, no people, it seemed even the dogs were quiet and I would stay there for a while listening to the Christmas Hush.

    Playing with my presents I could smell the delicious aromas coming from the kitchen where my mother was busy with the Christmas dinner. At last she’d call me through for dinner – turkey, stuffing, apple sauce, brussel sprouts, parsnips and the rest. Then the pudding, aflame with brandy and smothered in white sauce.

    We lived in the coastal town of Rhyl, so after dinner we’d walk it off on the promenade. Many other parents up there with their kids – the boys showing off their new roller skates, tricycles and scooters while the girls would be attired in new coats, hats, gloves or mittens.

    Back home my mother would prepare the Christmas tea. Cold cuts of turkey, maybe some ham (if she could get it – a lot of stuff was still on ration in those days) pickled onions and bread and butter. Following up we’d have a big trifle (sherry trifle if my mum could afford a bottle) hot home made mince pies and, the crowing glory, the Christmas cake. It was always home made with plenty of marzipan and icing.

    In the evening we’d settle in front of the TV. There was usually a special variety show or even a film.

    Boxing Day, and I wanted to rush round to friends’ houses to show them my presents. But Boxing Day was usually the day that relatives called round and I had to be on hand to help serving up cups of tea, sandwiches and kissing aunties I didn’t even know I had.

    Boxing Day lunch we’d usually have ‘stwnsh’ – a mash of potatoes and veg from the Christmas dinner, served up with more cold turkey and, if I was lucky, mum would let me chomp on one of the legs (I often thought that the stwnsh was as good as the actual Christmas dinner).

    The next day, it was back to normal. Christmas really was just the two days. We didn’t really make a lot of New Year and, back then, New Year’s Day wasn’t a holiday.

    We didn’t have an awful lot back then and our pleasures seem quite low key compared with modern Christmases. But I always enjoyed them and often reminisce about Christmas past.



    Anyone else want to add their Christmas memories as a child?

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    Re: A child's Christmas in Wales

    Quote Originally Posted by Welshman
    In the evening we’d settle in front of the TV. There was usually a special variety show or even a film. Occasionally, word would reach us of a holiday home nearby which was being used over the festive period by an English family. Nothing would give us greater pleasure than having a gentle evening stroll over to the cottage, whereby two or three of the more zany members of the group - usually Iwan, Trefor or Gwendoline - would promptly set fire to the fucker. T'was the season to be jolly.

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    Re: A child's Christmas in Wales

    ^^^
    That didn't happen in those days and doesn't now. It only happened over a brief period and the police knew who they were and just sat on them.

    Anyway, it's about our childhood memories of Christmas so let's keep it light and happy, eh?

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    Re: A child's Christmas in Wales

    ^Great story, Welshman. It brings back memories. I have so many happy Christmas memories. Christmas was very traditional for me growing up.

    As my mom had seven brothers and sisters, we had a huge family that centered around Grandpa and Grandma's house every year. Christmas eve consisted of piling into my grandparents house filled with the smell of homemade apple, pumpkin, and lemon meringue pie. Sounds of cousins laughter filled the house that brought together one big happy family. The smell of the real Christmas tree filled the living room, that was packed with carefully wrapped gifts for all grandchildren. Checking under the tree for my gift, and trying not to knock the tree over, was a memory every year. While the adults got loaded on rum and eggnog, my cousins, and I would sit around the candy filled table, playing cards, and dominoes.

    Christmas morning would consist of getting up very early to see what Santa had brought under the tree. I knew Santa had came because the gifts that were not wrapped meant Santa had been generous that year; or I had been a good girl as it happened.

    Grandma and Grandpa would join us, and would cry, tears of joy at every gift they received, no matter how small or cheap. I would be reminded by grandma how much, my mom went overboard with gifts. After opening presents, mom would make a big brunch, including eggs, ham, bacon, fruit, and eggnog for all to enjoy.

    Christmas day would consist of visiting relatives, and opening more gifts, and eating more candies, and chocolates. Dinner would consist of a feast of all the fixings, including: turkey, stuffing, cranberries, turnips, mashed potatoes, and grandmas homemade tortiere pie. Afterwards, I'd be asked to comb grandma's hair, while she fell asleep while snoring as loud as could be. Ahhh, those were the days.

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    Re: A child's Christmas in Wales

    hanky panky nohow
    the answer to the secret of the universe is the secret itself

    and the secret is.........................................it isn't there

    grasshopper 2008

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    Re: A child's Christmas in Wales

    ^

    i thought exactly the same thing when i read the thread title!


    "so please show no pity as we come up from the ground, and please remember as you kill us and cut us down that time will not wash clean the bloody face of history, and someone will breathe here again and they will hate you for what you leave." m.g.


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    Re: A child's Christmas in Wales

    Get Eaton's Christmas catalogue sometime in October. This would be perused almost every day until Christmas.

    Use above catalogue and Saturday morning cartoon advertisements to make and send wish lists to Nicholas Claus in the North Pole (apparently intercepted by my parents before reaching the destination).

    Put up and decorate a real tree on December 1, at the same time, a Christmas wishes calendar goes up on the fridge.

    From time to time, search the house for presents.

    Watch the Christmas cartoons... the Grinch, Charlie Brown Christmas, Santa Claus is Coming to Town, Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer.

    Presents start appearing under the tree. Count and shake my presents, and fight with my siblings over the biggest and the most. Lift corners of wrapping paper, look for a label.

    School's out!!! Play road hockey every day, except when interrupted to go visiting

    Christmas Eve special supper, get to open one present (always new pyjamas), younger aunts and uncles come visiting, look out window for Santa and his reindeer every 5 minutes (constantly encouraged to do so by my dad). Put out milk and cookies and eventually under much coaxing go to bed.

    Spend a sleepness night sweating with excitement. Get up at 4 am Christmas Day and run into recreation room..... WOW! Spend hours alternatively inspecting presents from Santa and trying to get mom and dad up.

    Finally.... mom comes down (always last, always with a coffee, and always with a big smile).

    Present opening orgy commences. Within 20 minutes every carefully wrapped present is open and the recreation room is a warzone.

    Cleanup (toss discarded wrapping into fireplace).

    Spend 3-4 hours opening and playing with new toys. Visit neighbourhood friends with favourite new things.

    Around 3 pm, despite howls of protest, we bundle up to go to Grandma and Grandpa's, for a more organized and well behaved gift opening takes place, with about 30 immediate family gathered around the tree, and the youngest kids taking turns delivering presents from under the tree. Grandma always the quiet one, sits in the background and watches the proceedings proudly. Grandpa sits in his favourite chair and makes everyone laugh with jokes.

    Massive turkey dinner by Grandma. I get a glass of wine!

    Several get drunk.

    Bundle up to drive the 2 km to home, after kisses and hugs for everyone.

    Playing with presents, hockey tournaments, daily road hockey games, and visiting relatives and friends between Christmas and New Years. New Years Day big family get together at Aunt Phyllis and Uncle Norm's, about 60 all told. More presents and big buffet dinner. Watch aunts and uncles cure hangover with lots of drinking while getting reacquainted with 2nd cousins.

    Pretty traditional, a tad overly commercial. No churchgoing. Never knew until much later how lucky I was.

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    Re: A child's Christmas in Wales

    Quote Originally Posted by phuketbound
    ^Great story, Welshman. It brings back memories. I have so many happy Christmas memories. Christmas was very traditional for me growing up.

    As my mom had seven brothers and sisters, we had a huge family that centered around Grandpa and Grandma's house every year. Christmas eve consisted of piling into my grandparents house filled with the smell of homemade apple, pumpkin, and lemon meringue pie. Sounds of cousins laughter filled the house that brought together one big happy family. The smell of the real Christmas tree filled the living room, that was packed with carefully wrapped gifts for all grandchildren. Checking under the tree for my gift, and trying not to knock the tree over, was a memory every year. While the adults got loaded on rum and eggnog, my cousins, and I would sit around the candy filled table, playing cards, and dominoes.

    Christmas morning would consist of getting up very early to see what Santa had brought under the tree. I knew Santa had came because the gifts that were not wrapped meant Santa had been generous that year; or I had been a good girl as it happened.

    Grandma and Grandpa would join us, and would cry, tears of joy at every gift they received, no matter how small or cheap. I would be reminded by grandma how much, my mom went overboard with gifts. After opening presents, mom would make a big brunch, including eggs, ham, bacon, fruit, and eggnog for all to enjoy.

    Christmas day would consist of visiting relatives, and opening more gifts, and eating more candies, and chocolates. Dinner would consist of a feast of all the fixings, including: turkey, stuffing, cranberries, turnips, mashed potatoes, and grandmas homemade tortiere pie. Afterwards, I'd be asked to comb grandma's hair, while she fell asleep while snoring as loud as could be. Ahhh, those were the days.
    Beautiful memory. Sounds just like mine. Grandma and Grandpa coming over or we going over there was the highlight of the Christmas Day. There too was the smell of a fresh Christmas tree hand-picked by my parents/grandparents. And the smell of gifts. And we used to sing Christmas carols and hold candles in the morning and our parents would take pictures.

    My grandmother made chocolate pie. Still the best in the world. She's in assisted living now and of course can't do that anymore, but the memories will live with me forever.

    I remember seeing a Ray Bradbury film called "The Electric Grandmother." It was about a little boy and girl who lost their grandmother, and their father purchased a new robot grandmother. Was interesting.

    I can understand the mischief Welshman talked about. My best friend and me in school were pyros. One time we tried to light the dried grass in front of our elementary school on fire. A couple of days later a fireman had come to the school and the principal called us down to his office and the fireman gave us a lecture..."Do you know the damage from just one match can do?"
    Illegal aliens will make you pay...legal aliens can get you paid.

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    Re: A child's Christmas in Wales

    I can add very little to that. A very nice evocative piece, Welshman. Green for you.

    And as my family originated from Sellatyn, near Oswestry on the Welsh borders, close to my heart. Except that was 250 years ago and I was born a Geordie!

    Very, very similar, except we didn't call the leftovers (as you say, easily as good as the Christmas dinner) stwlch (sp?).

    Did you have thrupenny bits and tanners in the Christmas pud, wrapped in greaseproof paper??
    We would rather be ruined than changed
    We would rather die in our dread
    Than climb the Cross of the moment
    And see our illusions die

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    Re: A child's Christmas in Wales

    Quote Originally Posted by Mister Fixit
    thrupenny bits and tanners in the Christmas pud, wrapped in greaseproof paper??
    snob

    i do remember setting the chimney on fire once with all the wrapping paper

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    Re: A child's Christmas in Wales

    Quote Originally Posted by LoveBucket
    snob
    Not me mate. That was me rich pals.

    Ha'pennies and pennies in wor hoos, man.

    I was lucky though. My mam is Dutch, so we celebrated St Nicholas' (Santa Claus, geddit?) Day on 5th December and so my younger brother and I had a few small prezzies then, a sort of early Christmas.

    We still left a mince pie and a glass of sherry for him, though, but put out a clog instead of a stocking, and a carrot for the Dutch version of Rudolph.

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    Re: A child's Christmas in Wales

    Quote Originally Posted by Welshman
    A child's Christmas in Wales
    Many's the Christmas' I spent in Wales. Shirenewton near Chepstow to be precise. Know it Welshie?

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    Re: A child's Christmas in Wales

    Quote Originally Posted by Welshman
    No, not the Dylan Thomas one, but mine.

    It was an age of innocence and we had many myths to take account of. Sion Corn (as he’s known in Wales) would know if you had been a good boy or not and bad boys didn’t get any presents – just a bag of cinders, so we all tried to be on our best behaviour.

    The first taste of Christmas would come in the last days of term at school. We would all sit at our desks making paper chains to drape around the school. On the last day of term as a special treat, we were allowed to bring in toys, comic books, whatever and share them with our classmates.

    The run up to Christmas started much later then. About a week before, all the shop staff would be feverishly decorating the shops with glitter and fairy lights and suddenly the shopping centre would be a blaze of light and colour.

    At home, too, we would all wade in with decorating the tree and decking the house with those concertina paper chain things, holly and mistletoe.

    The Sunday morning before Christmas, there would be a special service at the chapel. It was all done by the children. The older ones would read parts of the Christmas story from the bible while the younger ones would re-enact the nativity. One Christmas, I was asked to be one of the wise men (serious miscasting, I know). My mother had draped me in an ornate tablecloth and I carried a bottle of toilet water as one of the gifts. I seem to remember that the top was leaking and I reeked of perfume for days after.

    Christmas Eve, there was a formality to go through – leaving a mince pie and a glass of sherry for Sion Corn on the mantelpiece of the fire place. Then up to bed and the worse part of Christmas – trying to get to sleep. Sion Corn would know if you were sleeping or not and if you weren’t – well, he’d carry on his journey without coming to your house.

    Christmas morning at last. There was a sock on the bed stuffed with silly stuff like balloons, small toys and, stuffed down the toe, a tangerine.

    Downstairs now and, always, I ran over to the fire place to check the mince pie and glass. Yes, a bite had been taken out of the mince pie and the glass was empty. Silly now, I suppose, but that sight always held me in awe.

    Open presents time. Invariably you hadn’t got exactly what you wanted but it was always good and always enough. Times were much more frugal then and we were grateful for what we’d got.

    Another ritual I loved was going out of the front door and standing outside the house. In those days, Christmas was for immediate family – no-one went anywhere. No planes, no cars, no people, it seemed even the dogs were quiet and I would stay there for a while listening to the Christmas Hush.

    Playing with my presents I could smell the delicious aromas coming from the kitchen where my mother was busy with the Christmas dinner. At last she’d call me through for dinner – turkey, stuffing, apple sauce, brussel sprouts, parsnips and the rest. Then the pudding, aflame with brandy and smothered in white sauce.

    We lived in the coastal town of Rhyl, so after dinner we’d walk it off on the promenade. Many other parents up there with their kids – the boys showing off their new roller skates, tricycles and scooters while the girls would be attired in new coats, hats, gloves or mittens.

    Back home my mother would prepare the Christmas tea. Cold cuts of turkey, maybe some ham (if she could get it – a lot of stuff was still on ration in those days) pickled onions and bread and butter. Following up we’d have a big trifle (sherry trifle if my mum could afford a bottle) hot home made mince pies and, the crowing glory, the Christmas cake. It was always home made with plenty of marzipan and icing.

    In the evening we’d settle in front of the TV. There was usually a special variety show or even a film.

    Boxing Day, and I wanted to rush round to friends’ houses to show them my presents. But Boxing Day was usually the day that relatives called round and I had to be on hand to help serving up cups of tea, sandwiches and kissing aunties I didn’t even know I had.

    Boxing Day lunch we’d usually have ‘stwnsh’ – a mash of potatoes and veg from the Christmas dinner, served up with more cold turkey and, if I was lucky, mum would let me chomp on one of the legs (I often thought that the stwnsh was as good as the actual Christmas dinner).

    The next day, it was back to normal. Christmas really was just the two days. We didn’t really make a lot of New Year and, back then, New Year’s Day wasn’t a holiday.

    We didn’t have an awful lot back then and our pleasures seem quite low key compared with modern Christmases. But I always enjoyed them and often reminisce about Christmas past.



    Anyone else want to add their Christmas memories as a child?
    I've never heard of any English people spending Xmas in fucking Wales.

    Come to think of it, I've never met any English people who own a holiday home in Wales.

    Maybe I move in the right circles where that latter point is concerned.



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    Re: A child's Christmas in Wales

    Mum and Dad had 6 kids in 8 years, Dad was a nurse so money was tight. I must have been well into my late teens before I got a wrapped Christmas present! Santa used to visit our bedrooms and put presents in pillow cases at the foot of our beds. We normally had one 'main' toy, an annual, selection box and an apple and a tangerine, sometimes we got new slippers - that was it.

    The Christmas tree - that could have possibly won first prize in the 'Most Anorexic Christmas Tree' competition!

    The decorations - yes we did have the paper chains that we made in school and, wait for this, two packs of crepe paper. The crepe paper was cut into three inch strips twisted together and went from all four corners of the room to the ceiling rose.

    Old slippers normally ended on the fire - they did burn well!

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