Christmas Day, 1950s

December 21, 2015 at 2:00 am | Posted in 1950s, Australia, Family History, Growing up in the 1950s and 60s, Religious rites, Special Occasions | 8 Comments
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monday-memoir-badge

 

 

Going away for a holiday in summer – or at any time – was unheard of in our family when I was growing up. However, the Christmas holidays were always a wonderful time of the year, as they were for all kids. Christmas Day was, for us coming to Australia from England, so different that we may as well have been in another world.

Good-King-Wenceslas-Christmas-Card-sent-by-Royal-Doulton-in-the-1950s

Good King Wenceslas Christmas card sent by Royal Doulton in the 1950s

 

 

I still remembered the grey, drab, cold and usually wet days in Lancashire. Sometimes it did snow too. On Christmas morning, we would be rugged up in a coat and hat, with leggings and boots, and a mackintosh, to walk the mile or so to St Mary’s Catholic church for Mass.

How different was the two-mile walk to 7am Mass in Australia. We would set off, without breakfast, just after six o’clock. Our little home was in Albion Park Rail, but the hall where Mass was held was in Oak Flats. Almost always, the day would be clear and bright with no sign of drizzle or smog, and no smoke-blackened stone buildings. Instead of wet or icy stone footpaths, we walked along long, dusty streets that were usually hat as well.

Mum and Dad wore their Sunday clothes, as did we, but instead of the heavy clothes of England, they were light cotton shirts, or dresses (usually made by Mum) and sandshoes (usually freshly whitened by Dad). I remember skipping along the street, light-hearted and happy. The lake was on our left as we walked to church, and the new-risen sun shone from a blue sky onto its still waters, making it gleam and glisten. Everything looked fresh and clean.

There were few houses along our street, and hardly anyone was about so early. But whenever we did see someone, we would call out “Merry Christmas!” and they would respond with a smile and a similar greeting. This made the day even more special.

 

Aussie Xmas greetings

A wide creek marked the boundary between the two little villages and the halfway point in our walk. An old wooden bridge, missing many of its planks, spanned the creek. We thought crossing it was an adventure, but Mum always called out for us to be careful. It was later replaced by a higher one, still of wood and but with handrails on the sides. We’d stop in the middle and watch the ducks swimming in the water – how many would there be there today?

Mum and Dad would catch up with us at the other side of the creek and we’d climb the steep rise to the road above. This took us to the centre of Oak Flats village, where Mass was held in a small, community hall made of fibro.

Mass was still said in Latin then, but we would follow it with our Missal, that gave both the Latin and English words of the priest and altar boys. It was often boring on other days, but on Christmas morning there was a special joy and reverence that was missing on normal Sundays. I loved listening to the story of the birth of Jesus in the manger, the coming of the shepherds and the wise men.

The walk home included anticipation of breakfast, but also of what we would find under the Christmas tree we’d decorated with bits of tinsel, crepe paper streamers and a star made from cardboard covered with silver paper from Mum’s cigarette packet. With little money to buy presents, we usually received home-made gifts, or clothes we needed for going to church. There were no large items like bikes or doll’s prams.

However, one Christmas, Dad made wooden scooters, one for me and one for my younger sister. Another year, she got a cowgirl outfit and I, being a tomboy, received a cowboy outfit. Apart from the scooter and the cowboy outfit, the best present I ever received as a child was two children’s books of adventure stories. They were the first books I ever owned and I treasured them for many years.

Those years, from age six to ten, were the happiest of my childhood, and the best Christmases that I can remember.

Best wishes from me in Australia to all you lovely blog visitors for a wonderful Christmas, wherever you may be in the world.

Aussie outback Xmas greetings

© Linda Visman

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8 Comments »

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  1. Lovely post, Linda. What great memories and I love the details that brought me along for the walk to church, your Christmas tree, and the gift of books. What treasures. Thanks for sharing. Merry Christmas. 🙂

  2. What a wonderful change to visit a warm sunny island for Christmas as a child. I love this post. Plus, I learned that a mackintosh can be a rain slicker and not just an apple or computer. Have a Merry Christmas!

  3. Don’t you love this time of year?! You remembering the season in the ’50’s and I had an Australian woman in the ’40’s – everybody is actually smiling lately – even here in 2015!!

  4. What lovely Christmas memories! A very merry Christmas to you and your family.

  5. So lovely!

  6. What a contrast Linda which means you can appreciate both.I wish we could return to such practicalities like your parents did in making gifts. Something hand made is so much more special although I guess it takes age to appreciate the full sacrifice of one’s parents.

  7. Have a Merry Christmas and happy New Year, Linda! I have so much enjoyed the tales from your youth, and what life was like. I remember my favorite Christmas gifts were from my aunt, who made us fudge and home made wild grape jelly. She learned to make candles later on in life with my uncle. Both are now long gone. I still have one of the Christmas tree candles she made, encircled by a small wreath I picked up years ago. It is on the table tonight. It is still Christmas Eve here where I am. May 2016 be a peaceful and plentiful one for you.

    • Thank you so much Lavinia. I hope your Christmas, just starting whilst ours is ending, is a lovely celebration.
      What lovely memories of your aunt to still have! I remember how our family & my uncle’s family would get together on Christmas Day for lunch, and we would always have trifle for dessert – one that my mother made.
      Since I married my first husband – 47 years ago – I have made that same trifle (but without the sherry) every Christmas. It is a tradition with my siblings too.
      May 2016 be a year of plenty also, and of joy.


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