Old Xmases

Old Xmases are magic, populated with people you will never see again.

Sitting on the bed with Mum and Dad, me on Dad’s  side, my sister on Mum’s side,  watching both of us struggle to get things out of the Xmas stocking they filled every year. She got the one with red trimming, I got the one with green, though I preferred the red.Fighting to get your arm right down to the little thing at the toe, and pull it back with the strings tangling your arm all the way.

Watching the people you love unwrapping the gifts you’ve had so much fun buying for them, their expressions. I remember visiting my then-girlfriend one Xmas: she already knew I’d managed to get her a couple of early Chieftains LPs which she expected I’d tape for her, because her record deck didn’t work so it had to be all cassettes. But she knew I had something she didn’t know about and was all eager to get it. The look on her face when I stuck my hand in my pocket and pulled out… a plug. Then snapping my fingers and going, oh yes, you need something to go on the end of that, and back out to the car, her kids racing out to look, and coming back in with this box: a not too expensive but still decent hi-fi system, including record deck. I still remember her speechless expression and how, still unable to speak, she flung her arms round my neck. Best Xmas present I ever bought anyone.

One year, my best mate bought me Spike Milligan’s ‘The Goon Show Scripts’ for Xmas, which made me laugh out loud (so did the book, raucously), because the present I had bought for him was Spike Milligan’s ‘More Goon Show Scripts’, and then only because they didn’t have ‘The Goon Show Scripts’ in the bookshop I went to.

Re-learning how much fun Xmas could be again, watching the excitement on the face of the kids.

Old Xmases. Xmas was always better then, no matter when ‘then’ was. They are part of your memories, along with the people who cannot or will not celebrate with you again.

To all my memories at Xmas, to all our memories of when Xmas was Xmas. And to the new memories Xmas will make for us this year.

At work, a customer wished me Happy Xmas in Welsh. According to Google, he said Nadolig Llawen, though he could have been speaking Timbuctoo for all I knew. So I wished him Happy Xmas in the only other language I know how to say it, wildly inappropriate as it might have been, and I wish it you here, in Spanish.

Feliz natividad.


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