A Christmas in Quorn 1946

24 December 2015

My father coaxed the fire into a cheery blaze then made sure that the fire guard was in place. Our stockings hung on either side of the mantelshelf.

‘You can come down now,’ he shouted.
‘Has he been, has Santa been?’
‘Oh yes,’ he replied. We burst into the room.
‘Look, he ate both mince pies and he drank the port, too!’
‘He took the carrots for his reindeer as well!’
‘Look at our stockings – they’re crammed full! Yours is that side.’

I lifted the stocking onto the floor and sat down. The first thing coming out of the top was an oblong box. I ripped off the paper and found inside a tin box which I opened carefully and – boy oh boy, a water colour box with lots of lovely colours and two squirrel-hair brushes!

Then came a wide, flat cardboard oblong. Unwrapping this, I discovered a block of the best watercolour paper sheets. I was amazed that these stockings, that mother had worn until they laddered, could hold so many parcels of different size and shape.

Next a lumpy, squashy parcel – it was easy to rip the paper off and Father gathered all the torn wrappings up and put them in a basket. This parcel held a pair of furry slippers in my favourite colour – just what I needed, so of course I put them on – perfect. My sister had some, too, but hers were blue.

Another oblong parcel – I shook it – no, it wasn’t a jigsaw? I opened one end and into my hand slid a book – ‘A Child’s Garden of Verses’ – and underneath that, ‘The Wind in the Willows.’ Santa must have listened into my dreams, or perhaps he got our letters? We had both written a request for one item to be put into our respective stockings, adding ‘lots of love’ and some kisses.  My father had checked that we had put ‘please’ in the letters, which he then held over the hot fire. The heat carried these light pieces of paper up the chimney where Santa’s elves would collect them for Santa.

Further down the stocking I felt a hard lumpy shape – it was a small pottery baby doll, about eight inches long. She was black with bright red lips and big, brown eyes. My sister also found a similar doll, hers was pink. I loved this baby doll and immediately named her Ally. She had been beautifully dressed in a silky dress with a matching knitted coat and tiny booties.  There was also a ball and crayons.

Down to bottom or the foot of the stocking there were lots of different nuts – some for roasting in the fire (chestnuts), hazels, almonds, Brazil’s, peanuts and underneath that lot a large orange!

We also had one large special present each. I had a wonderful dolls’ house with wooden furniture and electric light. There were torch batteries in the roof under a slide-out panel.

J M Harker

Illustration by Jennie Harker.