Christmas Story

Christmas Eve 1954

 An Irish Christmas story for retirees to share with their family this holiday season. 

We bought the Christmas tree in Cork's Coal Quay, and it transformed our living room.  Dad placed in a wooden butter box, which he decorated with red and green crepe paper. 

The tree was adorned with baubles, tinsel and snowflakes, but most of all I remember the sparkling fairy lights, which we bought from Mr. McCormick in Burwoods in Bridge Street.  I’d been watching them for weeks, every time I passed the shop, and now they were ours!  Twenty-three shillings, the very best that Dad could afford.  Twenty one lights, all different and I remember each one of them…the snowman, the angel, the snow cover house, the purple pinecone, the reindeer, the snowflake ball, and of course, a jolly Santa. 

A Christmas story...the wonder of it all...

The wooden crate in the corner said ‘deposit one and sixpence’; a small price considering the booty it contained!  Raspberry cordial, Little Nora orange, Deasy’s Red Lemonade, and Tanora.  

The smells of Christmas were in the air… pinecones, spiced beef, ham... and fresh paint.  New lino was in the hallway-colorful to the eye but cold to the touch of little bare feet. 

We had mince pies and plumb pudding, baked by Mum and Thompson’s cakes with exotic names like Madeira and Dundee!  We had a tin of USA biscuits, which Mum had already opened in advance of the big day, served with hot milky tea. 

The PYE radio was playing carols and a kindly old man was talking of Christmas past, but in the living room our brand new BUSH record player, with its fir tree logo, was playing Bing Crosby Christmas songs. 

Santa’s glass of lemonade and Rudolph’s carrot were near the fireplace; my brother’s letter was on the mantelpiece.  I had written it for him; I hoped Santa could read my writing.  Along side his letter was a card from my godfather, Uncle George from Scarsdale, New York.  Dad was minding the two dollars he sent me. 

A red, green and gold paper chain decked the ceiling, and on the front door was a Holly Bough decorated with red berries, brown pinecones, and a golden bell. 

In the distance I heard Carol singers sing that loveliest of all carols, Silent Night.  I wondered if the footsteps outside were revelers or Midnight mass goers. The embers in the fireplace were fading to black.  Shandon Bells rang out eleven; everything was just perfect.


For a moment I just stood there in wonder of it all, and it somehow felt like mum and dad had done all this just for me, and I was so grateful to them.

Mom came into the room and lifted me up to light the Christmas candle.  She looked tired, but when I lit the candle, the flame danced in her eyes and she looked young and happy again. 

My sister put the baby Jesus in the crib. 

Dad came in crooning ‘White Christmas’ and said I was a great boy.  His old grey jumper was spattered with UNO paint; he always had a bit of painting to do on Christmas Eve. 

We talked about Santa, how kind he was.  We marveled at how he did it all!  Tomorrow I might be Roy Rogers, or an engineer building bridges with my Mecanno set, or best of all…a train driver! Mummy reminded me, as always, that Santa might have a problem fulfilling every child’s wish that Christmas. 

I climbed onto my dad’s knee, he nuzzled his stubbly chin against my cheek and we both laughed.  Mum stood there smiling at us. The lights flickered on the Christmas tree, I couldn’t have been happier; this was going to be the best Christmas ever.

Sometimes I wish I could step inside the shoes of that little boy, just for one time, to see again the sights, smell again the scents, hear the sounds and feel the feelings…to be that little boy again in the Christmas Story, and to tell my Mum and Dad they were the best parents for me.

This Christmas Story was published in Mature Times 

Have you a Christmas Story, or Retirement Story you would like to share with my readers?  Share it here

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