“The past is a foreign country: they do things differently there.” (“The Go-Between” by L. P. Hartley)
I watched a T.V. programme the other evening entitled “Call The Midwife”. This is a drama set in the late 1950s on the subject of, well, midwives, which set me thinking just how much we’ve advanced in every respect since then – how times have changed in those 50-odd years.
When I was eight years old (in 1950), family life was all-important. Families ate together, played together and (usually) stayed together. We had no television and very little money, but always had one holiday a year at a caravan site by the sea in Wales. We didn’t own a camera (luxury item!) so there is no record of these holidays, but I’ve never forgotten them. It was something we looked forward to all year. I used to love the train journeys almost as much as our time on the beach – hearing the whistle blow as we entered a tunnel, leaning out of the window to see the fields and towns passing by (and very often getting a smut in my eye from the smoke!). But it was magical.
Similarly, Christmas was a time for families to get together and my Gran always came to visit us on Boxing Day. We would finish off the turkey, play parlour games and always play cards for pennies, before going off the bed at 7.00 p.m. It never occurred to me until now that my Grandma wasn’t there the next day. I have no idea how she got home as we never owned a car and she lived about 30 miles away!
Our Christmases were real fun. On Christmas Eve just before going to bed, my Dad would prepare “Santa’s supper” comprising two mince pies and a glass of beer, plus a carrot for Santa’s reindeer. Santa always left a note to say “Thank You” for his supper. (These days we can track Santa by satellite on his Christmas Eve journey as he travels around the world). At bedtime we would hang an empty pillow case at the bottom of the bed and in the morning it would still be there, but with small gifts inside, usually a book, a roll of sweets and an apple or orange. (Sweets were a great treat as they were rationed after the war until 1952.) Then we’d rush downstairs to find our presents. I can remember having a doll’s pram one year and my sister had a doll’s house that Dad had made. We expected nothing and were delighted with what we had.
Nowadays, when I see parents buying so much at Christmastime and children expecting so much it saddens me that the world is so full of greed and selfishness. The true meaning of Christmas has been almost completely forgotten. Yes, schools might have a Nativity Play, and yes, the children probably sing the carols but how many know the real story of Christmas? Why Jesus came.
“Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners”
1 Timothy 1 verse 15
“I have come that they may have life, and have it more abundantly”
John Chapter 10 verse 10