I was born in the early 1950s, so the presents I received for Christmas then were vastly different to what kids receive today. Like many families at the time, our family didn’t have a lot of money, so expectations weren’t high although still excitedly anticipated. Young neighbourhood mates, school friends and young family members such as cousins would discuss during the weeks before Christmas what we wanted. We knew that we could ask for a variety of ‘big’ gifts but only one would be likely to be given. A bike, trike or scooter were humungous requests and very rare to receive. Those were left for special birthdays such as one’s 10th or 12th birthday. I never received a scooter, but I did get a second-hand bike for my 12th birthday (and that is a story for another day).
On Christmas Eve my sister and I would place our empty pillowcases at the end of our beds. We looked forward with eagerness to the morning when the pillowcases would be full of goodies brought to us by Father Christmas. Our three teenage siblings were past the Father Christmas stage of course and my slightly older sister and I never questioned them why they didn’t put out their pillowcases. Sleep would take forever, and I wondered if morning would ever come.
But of course, it did. In the early morning before anyone had got out of bed, (teenage siblings trying desperately to stay asleep for as long as possible), slightly older sister and I would dive into our pillowcases. They seemed to be full of goodies. There would always be a couple of oranges (a leftover war thing); some peanuts and walnuts in their shells; a book such as a Children’s Readers Digest Annual (never any comics); some coloured pencils or paints and a colouring book; possibly a Snakes and Ladders or Ludo game; some sweets (chocolate money was a big hit), and… the ‘big’ present.
One year I received a fairy doll with gauze wings and a tulle dress. I stupidly let a neighbourhood mate hold her and he accidentally broke off her leg. Another year I received a doll with eyes that opened and shut. I called her Elsie. She lasted my childhood and she now resides in a shoebox in my garage. One year I asked for a bride-doll and Elsie turned up in my pillowcase wearing a wedding dress and a veil (as I said there wasn’t much money in our family). Another year I received a beautiful heart-shaped glass diamond on a gold chain to wear around my neck. I loved that even though it wasn’t ‘real’ gold. But the best present of all was a little, round, fat, black puppy clambering over family wrapped presents under the Christmas tree. My very own puppy! Teenage brother suggested I call her ‘Spook’ because she was so black. However, I called her ‘Bonny’ and she quickly became a happy family member.
I think the best aspect of receiving my childhood presents wasn’t so much the gifts themselves (except for Bonny of course), but the joyful anticipation of them. That was such a delicious feeling. What about you? How did you feel in the days before Christmas and what gifts were you lucky enough to receive?