Saturday, December 10, 2016
Put the music on whilst you read.......click below:
It's December, a 'festive' month.
We've finally got that terrible, torrid and dead month of November behind us and we can try to repair the damage and attempt to enjouy Christmas and the New Year entry to what hopefully will be a better year.....2017.
I recall, many years ago that this period was the one and only time I got to see the outside of our 'Manse' at night time.
I say 'Manse' because our Father was, at the time, a Minister of Religion in a rather strict Methodist church in a place called Bolton, in the NW of England, and we were allowed no Television, no cinema visits, at the fall of darkness we had to be inside the manse.....(A Manse - for those uneducated amongst you is a building put at the disposal of a Minister and his family free of charge) As I recall, my Father earned around 7 shillings and 6 pence per week and we got some free wood for the stove, occasionally some free coal, our electricity was paid, but we had few electrical implements, just overfilled classrooms!
Prices were naturally lower, but we had no pocket money, no chocolate bars, no chewing gum, no turkey any time - not even chicken!
In brief, we had to make do....
Generally we received a sort of 'care package' from the Church General Headquarters in the USA, which did contain some things unheard of like popcorn, chewing/bubble gum and.....A big tin of canned ham!
This ham became rapidly our Christmas day lunch special, and I recall vividly the tension building up when we hadn't received the parcel by around the 20th December or so. I also recall the year that it turned up and had been damaged - the ham was one seething mass of maggots.....my Mother even tried to scrape them off to make it edible, but more came through from the centre! We had to make do and mend (don't ask)! I honestly don't recall what we ate that Christmas!
Later in life we started to get a visit on Christmas Eve's, from the Church Secretary, bringing gifts (paid generally by the Church members) - he travelled really from afar! The only problem was that my Mother had no idea if he was going to bring this offer until Christmas Eve, and once again, tension knew no bounds!
On these famous Christmas Eve's came an event which I, as a 10-12 year old simply loved!
This Church was, to my knowledge, the only one who sent out every Christmas Eve, a whole bunch of Adults and children, to carol sing for other members of the congregation who were homebound through illness or whatever. We had to walk miles and miles, and sing and sing.....
It started on Christmas Eve around 10pm and lasted until around 3-4 am......!
At every stop, we stood outside, and sang! It was cold, in Lancashire, England, but at every stop we were rewarded, after singing, with the traditional cup of tea, scones and sometimes the exotic British 'mincepies'!
As I said this was the only time of the year I saw darkness outside, and it was a mesmerizing experience.
Of course when we moved to London, I was older and things changed!
Lights all over the place, all year round!
Even now, in the twilight of my years I recall these times, strangely - with pleasure!
I recall wiping down the damp walls in the bedrooms, so we could go to a 'dry' bed....I recall the occasional visit on a Christmas Day of somebody with a kind heart and a little gift for the Pastor's son......me!
This is me - almost 50 years ago, reading a German newspaper in Immenstad-im-Allgau, Bavaria........
And so a circle closes itself.....most people I knew then are long gone now....but the memories live on.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NDxOu1-c0rw (Christmas music and images from You Tube......)
HAPPY CHRISTMAS AND NEW YEAR 2017!
of course a good.........
Ian W. Mitchell - Vauvert, France - December 2016