My memory files are old, the draws rusted, hard to extract. The pages themselves abound with moth-holes.
Yet sometimes a picture, music, smell or sensation unlocks a door and I find myself in a past time, basking in its warm glow. I remember how it felt to be a child, a teenager, new mother, my first taste of the orient etc. etc. Sweet feelings overwhelm me and for a few blissful moments I taste the past again.
Like the hedgehog, as I gaze I’m back. Me and my sister, peering, noses cold against the window, all a hush as a dark, prickly shape appears, hesitantly nearing the saucer of milk my mother set out every night. I remember the cold of the kitchen, but the warmth of our hearts, my mother’s soft smile – she helped more than hedgehogs. The tiny creature lapping eagerly outside our door was our shared secret.
Let me explain. As a very small child I used to chew on my coat collar (don’t ask me why???). In those post war days clothes needed to last a long time so in desperation my mum had smeared English mustard ( unlike the French or American varieties extremely hot) on my collar edge. Being the “sweet angel” that I was (sarcastic voice) I determined to suck the mustard off and pretend to like it so I’d “win”. I did win but the burning sensation stayed in my memory lol!
Just for fun I’ll tell you one of my next earliest memories – jumping out of a 2nd story window to prove to the neighbor’s boy I wasn’t chicken! No wonder my mum went grey early LOL!
(I think my guardian angel must have been pretty overworked too – amazingly I got away without even a scraped knee.)
I look back and remember. Come and peek into my world,
When candles softly glowed, the angel’s wings unfurled.
With childhoods eyes I waited for the feast on Christmas Eve,
Not food, or presents waiting but what little eyes perceive.
When dad would light the candles upon the Christmas tree
With my sister I would huddle and glorious beauty see.
It lasted a few moments (the flames could not be left)
And so this time of magic would leave us soon bereft.
But in our souls would linger the beauty of the sight
And in our hearts remember Christ was given on this night.
My memory stretches back to the early 50s, Christmas Eves. It was cold before the days of central heating and double glazing. The heat from the roaring coal fire in the living room did not extend to the hallway where the tree stood and my sister and I huddled together in our flannelette nighties and tightly bound dressing gowns. Furry slippers and wool socks guarded our feet from the drafts that slipped past the door stop, but we didn’t notice the cold, our eyes were glued to the metal clip on candle holders we’d helped arrange (being careful of nearby branches the candles might ignite.)
Dad, still dressed in his work clothes, struck a match to the box and the magic began. Tiny flames appeared reflecting their gleaming warmth off the baubles and tinsel as we stood in awe at its beauty respectfully keeping our distance (only dad was permitted this task). Mum came behind to hug us and for a few moments time stopped as we admired the tiny lights gleaming in the darkness. Then all too soon they began to die and dad blew them out making sure his family slept safe.
In the morning there would be presents to unwrap, hot chocolate, carols at the old piano, mum’s home made cake, mince pies and Christmas pudding to devour, but as a child The most special thing about Christmas was when dad lit the lights.
Childlike, I was sure that must have been the time Jesus was born, amidst the magic.