… and then we can hang up our stockings.
When I was small, one of my father’s fishing socks was big enough for my presents. When I awoke on Christmas morning there would be an orange, an apple and some nuts in the foot, a rolled up pad of drawing paper in the leg with a packet of coloured crayons tucked inside (they would last the six months till my birthday when I would get a fresh supply) and perhaps a Mars bar or small block of chocolate (sweets were rationed). Small gadgets and toys filled the spaces – a wobbly horse, a tumbling kelly doll, a clicking frog, a plastic chicken that laid an egg when you pressed it down, or a bird that warbled if you filled it with water and blew through it. Maybe also some kind of cheap, small musical instrument like a mouth organ.
In addition to the stocking there was also always a Rupert Annual, a Children’s Annual full of stories, poems, games and puzzles, and one major present: one year it was a doll’s house my father made and my mother furnished, another time a Meccano set (we didn’t have Lego in those days), then a sewing basket (my mother had joined a cane-work class) and yet another time a crystal set, which my friend John (a budding electrician) rigged up with wires crisscrossing my bedroom like a prototype Tardis. We got a radio signal on the cat’s whisker, very weak, but my mother insisted the rigging come down a few weeks later as the wires were lethal and prevented her from dusting.
I’m sleeping in the same bedroom this Christmas that I slept in as a child, and the urge to hang up a stocking is almost overpowering! Maybe I will, and maybe – who knows – Father Christmas will fill it?