Back in 1954

Christmas has real poignancy for me this year. For the first time in my life I face a Christmas with none of the people I grew up with. When I look back to childhood Christmases I have nobody to share memories with – except that on rare occasions – and usually when I was a bit older, we might have spent a day with my cousins and grandparents. My cousins are still alive.

But the day to day memories that might be shared with a parent or a sibling – they have gone – as far as a topic of conversation is concerned. I find it seriously daunting to be the senior member of my family; the head of three generations and with nobody older or wiser to turn to.

I am aware, of course, that I am not the only person in this situation. I can now recall that my dad and my gran both reached this situation. But it is only now that I am in it that I realise what an impact it has.

But let’s be positive. I have a wife (and I have known her since I was little more than a kid), I have children. I have grandchildren. I have cousins, nephews, nieces and even half siblings. We all have wider circles of friends – and some of my friends I have known for nigh on 60 years. And then I have a lovely collection of blog readers. Many are people I don’t know at all, but they feel like friends.

And I have memories, aided by a wonderful collection of photographs and here is one of them – a photo of a family group of children who were all at the same school in December 1954 – 60 years ago.

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I am the somewhat toothless person on the left. The photo was taken by the school photographer. My mum must have known he was coming. I have no memory of normally having to wear a tie to school back then. In the middle is my sister who died back in September this year. Christmas without Paula will be odd this year. Actually she went through quite a long spell of being a real grouch at Christmas. ‘I’m not doing Christmas’, she’d say. ‘We’re not doing presents’, she’d add. And on Christmas day she’d drag her husband out for a walk where she’d meet other grouches who weren’t doing Christmas and declare these folks were the ones who had seen the light and were truly sensible. Just after Christmas and before New Year she’d phone us up and invite them to come and see us. They’d arrive with boxes full of gifts. These were nearly all second hand because Paula traded in collectibles. I have zero objection to second hand goods and gifts. In fact I’m all for it. And Paula always managed to find such appropriate things.

In the last few years she got less grouchy and started doing Christmas again. But alas, 2013 was her last one.

Having said that, compared with my brother, Robin, who is on the right in the photo she did wonderfully well for age. Robin died back in 1980 leaving a wife and two young kids. Robin and I were too close in age to be good friends as kids. I only really learned to love him when he left home. But we still had to spend childhood together – fighting and arguing as siblings do. I still miss him amazingly often. He has a grandson, who of course he never knew, who looks just like him.

I’d better finish this post by saying I feel extremely fortunate with my life. I had loving caring parents, siblings who grew to love one another, and I have had a lovely wife for more than 40 years now and great children and delightful grandchildren. Who, actually, could ask for more?

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5 Responses to “Back in 1954”

  1. Sig Nordal Jr. Says:

    Reblogged this on Sig Nordal, Jr..

  2. Thom Hickey Says:

    Thanks for this honest and moving reflection. I have greatly enjoyed following your blog this year. Best wishes for Christmas and 2015. Thom

  3. Paula Says:

    All the best for Christmas, I shall look forward to your New Year stories . Paula

  4. marketlavingtonmuseum Says:

    Thanks, Paula. Who knows what a New Year will bring but we’ll all be doing our best to enjoy it and support one another.

    I’d like to get to the South Downs again, of course.

    Cheers

    R – AKA The Happy Nerd

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