Monday, 22 December 2014

Christmas Traditions by Cheryl Lang

I don’t think we have any Christmas traditions in our family, probably because I was brought up in East Africa and Christmas was a vague event.

We often lived in remote places with no shops for hundreds of miles.  My parents, in hindsight, had to purchase any gifts either back in the UK on leave or during the long voyage out by sea. How they managed to gather a few toys together when we didn’t have UK leave, I’ll never know.  

We didn’t have any Christmas decorations, nor did we make any. I never knew what a Christmas tree was. We certainly didn’t have Christmas cards to give. My brother and I were told stories of Santa and of snow and ice and reindeer and sleighs, and I could imagine it. We did hang stockings up on Christmas Eve as we knew Father Christmas would visit us.  We never thought to question how.

Christmas Day was a little unusual. We’d wake up and find a stocking miraculously filled with toys. We never questioned where they came from. Toys were rare. We usually used our environment as our playground and were happy with that. There was no special Christmas Dinner with Turkey and the trimmings. We weren’t aware of the turkey tradition. We probably had a homemade curry. We also kept scrawny chickens that I looked after and were pets with names. Unknown to me, we ate one of them one year. When I found out I was devastated.  

Sometimes when we lived in a more populated area the children, home from boarding schools, were gathered together at the Country Club and we rehearsed a play that we performed to an appreciative audience. I don’t recall any Christmassy ones. One year we did ‘The Pied Piper of Hamelin.’ Afterwards, I recall the shock of Father Christmas visiting with a sackful of toys and a named present for every child. 

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