Sharon: Hello, Jane! Sharon and Jane exchange hugs before settling into wing back chairs. Oliver pours the wine while blowing kisses to Jane.
Jane is going to share her memories of a British Christmas, 70s style. This sentimental journey will make you laugh and cry. And with no further ado, here’s Jane.
I guess the simplest definition of a ‘tradition’ is ‘something that’s always done the same way,’ and while I’m generally the sort of person who will happily embrace change, there are some things I do for no other reason than sheer tradition. Take Christmas, for example. Now that I’m a Proper Growed-Up Person with children of my own, my family has developed a number of its own traditions, but there are still some things, legacies of my own nineteen-seventies British childhood Christmases, that I just can’t do without. Christmas isn’t Christmas without them.
A large part of the British Christmas in the nineteen-seventies revolved around television. I suppose lots of people still spend inordinate amounts of time in front of the TV now over the season, but in those days there were only three television channels in the UK. Three! Can you believe it? You could set your brand spanking new Tell-The-Time Timex watch by the television on Christmas Day, it was always the same. In the morning there would be some carolling programme broadcast from some cathedral or other, and always very staid and formal. Three o’clock in the afternoon was time for The Queen’s Speech, as it is even now. Nobody in the whole world spoke like the Queen did then, and does still. Late afternoon, some kind of variety offering – mention the Morecambe and Wise Christmas Show to any Brit and I guarantee you’ll get a hoot and a grin in return. In the evening would be the Christmas movie, and the dear old BBC didn’t have much imagination when it came to choosing them, which is why every person in the UK between the ages of forty to fifty-five has seen The Great Escape at least twelve times….!
Of course, for us pre-teens, the highlight of the day was the ‘Top Of The Pops’ Christmas special. Ah, that seventies glam rock! My sister and I would be setting the table with the best tablecloth and the special once-a-year dinner service, warbling along with Roy Wood and his band Wizzard telling us ‘I wish it could be Christmas every day,’ or best of all, belting it out with Slade - ‘so here it is, Merry Christmas! Everybody’s having fun!’
And we were, we were having loads of fun! Those nineteen-seventies Christmases were the best of all. We were too young to know much about politics or economics or the state of the country, and the UK really was in a bit of a state back then. Things were tough. We certainly never realised what Mum and Dad must have gone without, how they would have scrimped and saved to make sure Christmas was special. Well, they managed it perfectly. I don’t remember Christmas being anything other than completely wonderful, and that’s how it should be.
Both Mum and Dad are gone now, Dad a few years ago, Mum just a few days before last Christmas, and you know something? The last words she’d said were….’Merry Christmas.’ So, this year I’ll be setting out the same old tablecloth on my own family’s Christmas table, and setting out some of that same once-a-year dinner service. There’s no more Morecambe and Wise Christmas Special, and ‘Top Of The Pops’ is long gone, but I expect The Great Escape will be showing on some TV channel at some point. Well, it’s traditional, isn’t it? It wouldn’t be Christmas without it! And I promise you, I’ll be singing the same songs we sang back then…..’Merry Christmas, everybody’s having fun.’ I’ll be watching my own kids having fun, and I’ll be remembering when my sister and I were kids and how much we loved Christmas. And at some point I’ll raise a glass to Mum and Dad to thank them for all those wonderful nineteen-seventies Christmases that I loved so much. Thanks, Mum and Dad. This Christmas will be for you.
Sharon: Thank you for sharing your lovely memories with us today, Jane. What better way to show the footprints our loved ones have left on our hearts than by passing family traditions on from generation to generation. Lovely indeed. Your parents will be smiling down on you this Christmas Day, thrilled that they left such footprints on your heart.
Scots-born Jane Richardson now lives on the south coast of England where the sun always shines and it never, ever rains, not ever never. She lives in a state of permanent yet jolly chaos with her husband, two children (she thinks they might be hers), several felines, a pooch, a tank full of goldfish and an invisible fox who barks beneath her window every night and keeps her awake. She’s been a management trainer, a stage manager, a dresser and part-time costume assistant and a holistic therapist, so it’s fair to say she’s Been About A Bit!’
Don't forget to enter Jane's Christmas Wishes Contest at her blog Home Thoughts From Abroad!
Image: Simon Howden / FreeDigitalPhotos.net