So another Christmas is over, it seems strange as you get older it comes around a lot quicker. I have always enjoyed Christmas I had a very good childhood with two loving parents and Christmas was the highlight of the year. My mother who was German celebrated Christmas on Christmas Eve like a lot of European Countries but the build up was even better, as we would celebrate the four Sundays of Advent. A Candle represented each Sunday so by the 4th Sunday 4 candles would be lit, as Catholics we would always start with prayers this would be followed by Carols and then a few treats of chocolates.
Christmas Cheer at 118
The chocolates would be sent from my Grand parents is Germany along with Advent Calendars; these were not seen in England back in the 1950’s. Christmas Eve Dinner always served in the evening was sometimes about 8 courses my mother would spend a lot time preparing this and most were German Style dishes, this was followed by a couple of presents. Christmas Day was traditional English, a stocking full of bits and pieces waking up at 5am told to wait another hour before we were allowed up. Then Dad got up to light the fire and we had to wait at the top of the stairs till he allowed us down. When we walked into the front room there was an array of presents. Times were not easy in the 1950’s so my parents must have been very frugal in what they spent during the year to be able afford, what was in those days, a lavish Christmas. Dinner was typical English Fayre , Chicken Veg etc., Yes Chicken in the 1950’s and early 1960’s Chicken was still a luxury. By the time I was 16 I working as Agricultural Apprentice on a Farm, was 6ft 2ins 15 stone and as strong as an Ox and could I eat! One Christmas Mum put a whole Chicken on my plate and I ate the lot.
The next Christmas period was when I started to go to Pubs and before I was married. A Group of friends would meet every Christmas Eve Dinner, we would later call ourselves the Christmas Eve Club, to partake in a Pub Crawl singing Christmas Carols and getting exceedingly Drunk but I was always home in reasonable state to sit down for Mums Dinner. My brother and myself never got told of from having to much to drink, in fact my Mum would say with a smile “I love it when my boys enjoy themselves. It was several years before my wife to be Valerie was allowed at the Christmas Eve celebration, Mum had to be sure she was to be one of the family.
Susan gave us a dog for Christmas?
As time moved on I married and had 3 children now it was their turn Mum or as the kids would call her OMA would carry on with the Advent Candles and the Christmas eve Dinner, I would carry on with the Christmas Eve meeting then meet Val and the Kids at Mums. Christmas day was at my home with my family and Boxing Day it was round Valerie’s Parents. I used to drop them of and then meet my Father at the Pub; Bill (Val’s father) would go with sons, Roger, Edward, John, Michael and Dennis to the Club House and as long as I got back to the Mother in Laws house before them I was OK something I did every year.
Harry and Lewis Love Sprouts
Every year Bill and Val’s Brothers would come in and Mary (Val’s Mum) would say “ Where have you been? Martin can get back in time” and that may have been only been 10 minutes. I only went out a couple times on a Christmas Day, there was one Christmas I wish I had not gone out. What was promised was that I would be back by 1pm, well that did not happen it was 2pm. The thing is women do not understand when the beer flows you get involved and some time seems to speed up. Well this one of those occasion and I found out to my cost, when my Mother walked into the Pub, something she never done, and said in her German accent “Valerie has phoned and is not happy, you will go home now” I quite expected weev hav ways to make you go home. I arrived home just to see my Christmas Dinner being put in the Bin. Needles to say this did not happen again.
As the Children became Young Adults they would still arrive Christmas Eve at Oma's, sadly the Advent Candles stopped and Valerie would pick me up and my Christmas Eve Club and ferry us all home.
Harry showing his affection for his GranDad
When the Grand Children arrived we carried on the Christmas Eve tradition but my now Mum was getting old and suffering with various ailments, so Valerie would help out with the meal. Mum revitalised the Advent Candles for a little while and Val and myself tried it at home but it soon fizzled out. Mum Died in 2004 and with her passing was my last vestige of my real Christmas on hindsight the last real Christmas was in 1998 Dad was still with us Mum done the entire cooking etc. Dad would have a massive stroke in 1989 and died December 7th 1990 a day after Mums’ Birthday, he was 63 the age I am now.
As you can see Christmas Eve was very important to me so it was strange that Susan’s first child a girl was born on Christmas Eve the year my mother died. It was said that if was a little gift from OMA.
Christmas now is still enjoyable but can be a very emotional time when you recollect the past, all of our children and grand children have been round over the Christmas period which is very pleasant, even though tell them year on year not by me gifts and save their money. They still festoon us with Christmas treats, the best one this year was from my Grand daughter Poppy you can see it below in the photo, strange that if you treat people on a regular basis they consider you rich little do they know I have to go without food (that is why I am so slim) to pay for it all!.
Early I mentioned the Christmas Eve Club; well we are a group of friends who have met every Christmas Eve since 1967 a total of 46 years. The Club is now just 7 strong NO one have died just a few previous members let their membership lapse by not attending the AGM i.e. Christmas Eve. Like most clubs we have a uniform, which originally was Sweat Shirt with our insignia which all had to wear, these for some reason or other have become to small, so then we moved on to Silver Pin Badge great shame we all have lost them, the only insignia was the Club Tie and I was the only one to wear it this year. Our AGM was normally a raucous occasions of plenty of ale and lots of Carol singing, finishing with members staggering home, talking to their spouses in a incoherent manner. On occasion members have to be assisted to their homes and left leaning against the door, while someone rings the bell and vanishes. As the years past we have come quite sedate and just go over past exploits this years AGM was hosted at the Taste of Portugal.
All the CEC members have been relatively successful in our career choice. My brother Norman trained as an accountant then moved to the Police Force where he retired as a Sargent now runs Nobby’s Gym, Johnny Elmer done his apprenticeship at the Dockyard now works for a company that deals with Maritime construction of vessel the job takes him to many countries, Trevor Waghorn is a Gas Fitter now works in Quality Control for a leading company, Trevor Jordan retired as a Refrigeration Engineer now woks for the NHS, Keith Jacobs retired as KCC Highways Surveyor. Keith Whyman retired Plumber and me Martin Clarke. All of us there were together yet again not as young as we were and several have had health issues but we may not see each other from one year to another but we are real friends
Well let hope we are all here for the 2014 CEC AGM
HAPPY NEW YEAR TO ALL OF YOU