by Patricia Ing, Guelph
The Second World War had just ended. I was about 11 years old, spending Christmas in the village of Christon, Somerset, England.
My family consisted of Mum, Dad, two older brothers who served in the Royal Navy, two younger sisters, dog Tippy and cat Ginger.
Rationing was in place; we all had a ration book with stamps. My father worked on a farm and my mother did domestic work. We children never went without food. Extras, like milk and eggs, were always available. My dad made cheese and clothes were handed down – my special green dress ended up being worn by my baby sister.
Christmas was very important and special, as it still is to me today. Mother decorated the living/dining room with homemade trimmings, paper loops and bells, put up for her birthday, December 19th.
Our Christmas presents came in a brown paper bag, not stockings as we could not afford them, only to wear. In the bag would be an orange, an apple, a shilling to spend, a piece of brown paper and string: to wrap, tie and buy. Everything was wrapped in soft paper which we kept to use in the toilet, having only squares of newspaper otherwise. We had one doll to share. My father made a crib out of bits and pieces of wood and painted it red, the same colour as mail boxes.
Mother took us three girls to St. Mary’s morning church service, while my dad stayed home to cook a roasted chicken dinner with all the trimmings, including Christmas pudding made by our mother. We always wore our best Sunday clothes, including hats, to church. We used the Book of Common Prayer. Before being confirmed in 1946 we had to know the services of the Eucharist, Matins and Evensong by heart. Still today, I do not need a book to follow the Eucharist.
After dinner, we had a visit from the wife of our local Member of Parliament. Her Christmas tradition was going around the village with gifts for all the children—I received a lovely bracelet.
In the afternoon we attended Sunday school, and then walked over a mile to the next village to attend Evensong in St. Andrew’s church, where my mother sang in the choir.
Our radio was a Black Bakelite Philco which ran on accumulator batteries that needed to be kept filled with some kind of acid from the local garage. As a young girl I used to check behind the radio to see where the people were.
These happy memories remain of those days.