WWII and Christmas

by Kathleen McDonald, Mount Hope

Christmas, in England, was a very exciting time for children, which didn’t start until about a week before the big day.

We decorated the parish church with holly, ivy and flowers before the Christmas services. We were unaware of the many difficulties due to war.

At home we strung streamers in each room and mistletoe in a doorway. We got the Christmas tree and it was put up on a table on Christmas Eve. No room for a big one and it was taken down on twelfth night. No fancy lights were available because these were during the war and post WWII days. We had old glass baubles which came from my grandparents and lots of silver tinsel. The war years were difficult for our parents who were not wealthy and because they had a son and daughter with “wish lists”.

My parents were very creative and our gifts were just what we wanted! Often my mother and father made things for us. We would have a roast chicken for Christmas dinner, which was a great treat. My father worked on my grandfather’s farm, so he was gone very early in the morning until late in the day.

On Christmas morning my brother and I jumped out of bed and went into bed with our mother to open our gifts. Each gift was noted, so our thanks could be conveyed to the person who gifted us! My mother passed in 1980.

When Dad was about 84 years old, I wrote this verse for him at Christmas in 1995, which describes our happy childhood.

MEMORIES

The door to the workshop was locked from inside
For weeks before Christmas, there were things he must hide.
A doll’s crib and aerodrome, he worked on with care –
Father Christmas he knew soon would be there.

On those cold winter nights, with his pipe and his cap,
He was in the workshop, to the door never answered a tap.
And while he was busy, Mum too never stopped,
She knit and she sewed and she baked quite a lot.

Then they finished their projects, just in time – what a team!
To bring to their children a real Christmas dream.
The children were up bright and early next morning,
And into Mum’s bed came without any warning!

HE’S BEEN! OH! HE’S BEEN! They cried out in joy
Bringing with them their gifts for a good girl and boy!

Written Christmas 1995 by Kathleen McDonald