I’m not sure if you have noticed, but the ghosts of Christmas past are sneaking up on us again. Perhaps if I left the house more often I would have noticed the relentless build up sooner, but writing and its spin-off businesses are generally solitary home body occupations.

When I was younger I was right on top of it. My shopping was more or less over and done with by now. My gifts were already on their way by the slowest and cheapest mail and I was happily laying up sweet treats to enjoy after the “official” Blaelock Christmas start date of December 1.

So I found it a little shocking to see Christmas right there in the supermarket tonight. Not that the place was full of cards and wrapping paper, or annoying piped Christmas music but that the exotic and yummy imported Christmas treats in their sparkly paper and snow themed tins are starting to pile up. (I really hope those mint and fruit flavoured Turkish Delights are there again this year).

It was making me feel quite nostalgic and want to pull my friends and family close around me, perhaps due to the recent death of my favourite Aunt. (Not that I remember much about her from my childhood, but more recently we spent a number of Christmases together).

I was looking at all those lovely treats, and remembering the Christmases of my childhood.

  • The excitement of reaching September 1 when it was time to make the Christmas puddings (too early was unlucky, and too late meant they wouldn’t be ready). Followed by the seemingly endless (and loudly complaining) walks to the shop with my mother to help her buy and carry home the fruit and alcohol. And then the delightful fragrance of the dried fruit soaking up the alcohol and the pervasive perfume of cinnamon and ginger leaking from the pantry as the puddings sat for three months developing their flavour.
  • My mother’s joy as tins of fancy biscuits and calendars arrived in the mail from her sisters in England. My brother and my annoyance at being forced to eat a “plain” one for each “fancy” one.
  • The slow crawl of Christmas themed packages of nuts and chocolates into the house as they finally arrived in the shops one by one, ready to buy and bring home along with Dad’s stinky cheeses.
  • The commotion of reaching December 1 and finally going out with Dad to buy the dried up half dead Christmas tree and start decorating the house for Christmas.
  • My older brother running from window to window claiming he could see Father Christmas on his sleigh. (Pretty sure he did that for me)
  • Our happy (and presumably loud) hysteria when we woke up and found one of Dad’s footy sock Christmas stockings on the bed with the obligatory orange in the toe, bag of nuts in the heel and handful of shiny coins in the leg. It’s so hard to imagine that these things were once strange and fascinating items.
  • The endless rounds of toast and marmalade before we were allowed to open our “proper” presents.

And there they all were in the shop on October 30. Only just Halloween for some of you.

But I have to say that while the lead up to Christmas did seem torturous, and strangely Dickensian, there was something delicious about having no choice but to wait. In retrospect, the season was very simple and I don’t miss the stultifyingly boring closeness of it, but that slow build of excitement over time makes it seem much more exciting and multicoloured than the Christmas I could have bought and consumed today.

What do you think?

Painting of “A Christmas Pudding” by Charles Norton 1826 – 1872. via State Library of Victoria


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