Dear Diary – Page 11 (Mid 1950’s – Christmas)

Christmas was when the caravan became magically transformed.

Around a week before Christmas, Mum and Dad would get out our little artificial tree and boxes of decorations. The tree was mounted on a square block of wood which was painted red. They would bend the branches out to form a standard fir tree shape and then hang the ornaments. Many of the ornaments were familiar to us as they had managed to survive when others (the fragile ones) had broken, and so it was exciting to see them coming out once again. The final ornaments to hang were the icicles. I do not recall any lights at that time but there certainly were lights hanging on that same tree in later years.

After the tree was done, Dad would then start hanging paper decorations around the top of the walls (in long loops) all around the living room. He would then hang some more corner to corner thereby crossing over in the middle of the ceiling. There were usually one or two decorations left over so he then hung them in our bedroom. The whole inside of our caravan was therefore a very colorful spectacle which must have raised our anticipation about Christmas coming!

Christmas eve was always fun! It was our family’s tradition to put the presents in spare pillow cases, and then set them alongside our beds when we were asleep. Keeping in mind that I had the top bunk (my pillow case was therefore on the floor and out of reach), the following dialogue would have been typical for that time and at around 6:00am :


“Hey Col………. are you asleep?”


“Want me to pass up one of your presents?”

“Yes please”

“Here you are” (present is held up on outstretched arm)

“Thanks” (present goes under blankets where it can be unwrapped quietly)

Voice from other room “Go back to sleep. It’s not Christmas yet!”

(A momentary silence)

“So what did you get?”

“Don’t know yet.” (Lots of rustling)

Voice from other room “Will you two go back to sleep. You can open them in a couple of hours.”

(A momentary silence)

“Got another one for me?”

“Guess what I got.”

“I don’t know…… what?”

Voice from other room “How many times do I have to tell you to go back to sleep?”

……………….. and so the early hours of Christmas day would continue!

After Mum had cleaned up all our wrappings and generally got things organized once again, she would put the chicken in the oven and we would be smelling “cooking chicken” for quite some time. I do not recall ever having turkey for Christmas, but then it was probably very expensive. Even a whole chicken was a treat for us!

Usually our only “conventional” dinner was on Sunday when we would have roast beef or ham. The rest of the week was planned around finishing everything as nothing was to be wasted. Even if we had salad during the week, what little meat we had with it would have been inexpensive luncheon meat or corned beef.

After our Christmas dinner we would have Christmas pudding which Mum would have made, and she always told us that if we were lucky, we might find (in our pudding) a sixpence*(silver coin) which the Christmas fairy would have put in the mix. Although Mum told us only one sixpence was in it, some how or other, both Valerie and I always used to be lucky!

After the Christmas pudding, we would go and play with our new toys until Mum called us with a plate of freshly made mince pies! Boxing day was also fun in that we were finishing off Christmas food which included more mince pies but, after that, we had to adjust to more routine meals. On December 31, the trimmings were taken down and put away, and the tree was once more folded up and put in its box. Christmas was put away for another year!

*For a perspective, sixpence would buy at least 6 sticks of liquorice!

9 thoughts on “Dear Diary – Page 11 (Mid 1950’s – Christmas)

  1. I really like reading about how Christmas was celebrated in your native UK. My folks had very little money as well and the same decorations were used over and over.

    I imagine the pudding and the sixpence were a highlight if you could buy licorice. I remember how good licorice sticks tasted. I loved that candy.

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    • I can remember when our wall hanging decorations were taken down, there was so much dust in the air! I think they went out of style some years later after a few tragic fires (because they were made from paper). One stick of licorice was good, so to be able to buy six!!!!!!! 🙂

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  2. That sounds very familiar to our Christmas, as well as mine and Alex’s Christmas only we used a milk crate and a bed sheet to cover it and we also reused decorations year after year. They were mainly things that she made, decorated paper plates (always a challenge putting those on a 4′ tree), little painted half cut toilet rolls that she had cut and decorated, little ornaments that she’d made over the years at school or crafts done with my mum. And we put stuff around the house to make it more ‘Christmassy’. You use what you have to make your Christmas special. It sounds like you and Auntie Val had a great time being very sneaky at Christmas. I like reading your stories about when you got up to no good when you were a kid, a lot of them are new to me so like your blog followers this is my 1st time reading them too.

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    • Well thank you. Memories of times before the world became a serious place are precious. Unfortunately, for most (if not all) of us, those carefree times are much too short.


  3. Oh the magic of Christmas through a child’s eyes.
    Mum always made sure there was a sixpence in our piece of pudding too. With decimalisation and inflation, Dad found the pound coin when the rest of us had 5ps (the equivalent of the old shilling). We learned later that the pound had come out of his pocket when no-one was looking.
    In the past Hubby and I have always had Christmas in a box. Last year we had Christmas in a bag, but still had our tree, decorations and lights up in the boat. 🙂

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