There’s more to this time of year,
Then sleigh bells and holly, mistletoe and snow,
Those things, they come and go.
My earliest Christmas memory is of when I was about 5. We were somewhat nomadic at the time, moving frequently (for reasons which I cannot now recall, I must ask my Mum), and that particular year, home was a tiny spot atop this low-cost apartment complex built for government employees (my dad was part of the Marine Fisheries Department then). We were on the very top floor (apparently my acrophobia hadn’t yet made its appearance known), the four of us crammed into the teeniest two bedroom apartment.
I remember sleeping on mattresses on the living room floor most nights because it was very warm. The air often so thick and muggy you could slice through it with a knife. And my ears tuned in to the soft rustling of the ceiling fan as it oscillated in a steady, hypnotic rhythm which would eventually lull me into the arms of Morpheus.
WITH "APACHE" FROM THE SHADOWS PLAYING IN THE BACKGROUND
My Dad had the coolest Open Reel Tape Recorder.
I have many fond memories of “the flat“.
That time my brother and I spied something glinting, yes, all the way from our top floor (I believe the building had maybe12 floors in all). Something that was clearly reflecting sunlight so we made our Dad go see, and he came back with this very sleek watch. After we asked around the neighbours and no one claimed ownership, my Dad wore it (proudly) for many years.
Then there are images in my mind of me, my brother, and my Mum, all three of us seated around the tiny dining table in the kitchen area, creating Papier Mâché from scratch. To be honest, I’ve no idea what we were making at the time, I simply remember it as being one of my happiest moments.
We did all sorts of arts and crafts.
We read books.
And then, of course, there was Christmas.
Now, finding a live Christmas tree in a country wherein one only has two seasons (hot/wet, or hot/dry) is
a daunting an impossible task which, consequently, effectively explains the abundance of plastic versions littering both malls and stores as well as roadside stalls pop-ups. We had them in all shades of green, some came pre-trimmed with tinsel and tiny gift boxes. Yet others in their au naturel glory, awaiting one’s imagination (and budget) to bedeck and adorn. White trees and gold-tipped white trees only became fashionable a few years later.
I really wish I could remember how the tree looked that year but I cannot lie.
I SIMPLY DO NOT
Truth be told, with each passing year, the images blur and blend into each other far easier than I would like. With a few exceptions, it gets harder for me to distinguish between which scene hails from my own childhood, and which was created while raising Eve, you know.
However, what I do remember, and ever so vividly, was the excitement of waiting for dear ole Santa. Trying my level best to stay up, for even the briefest of glimpses of the bearded one. Acutely straining my ears to detect any jingling of sleigh bells. Wishing and praying we had a chimney because, hello, how else was he going to shimmy down into our living room, and leave pressies for us??
Inevitably, of course, my eyelids would droop, and sleep take over. I was unaware of the powers of coffee at that age, or I would’ve put caffeine to good use.
I digress. Christmas. Waking up on Christmas morning was a glorious experience in itself. Whilst we weren’t impoverished, we weren’t wealthy either so presents were reserved only for birthdays and the twenty fifth day of the last month of the year. You could probably imagine how saucer-esque my eyes grew. The big “O” of my mouth when I dashed to look under the tree. It was such a treat to receive gifts. Even at that age, I understood how hard my parents worked to save up all year long in order to afford presents to place under the tree for us.
Christmas that year saw both The Six Million Dollar Man AND Bionic Woman Board Games under the tree. I’m fairly certain I shrieked and jumped up and down, then died and went to heaven. Or, at the very least, squealed my head off. We also received a pair of roller skates, to share, and for years to come, my brother and I would use our single unit rather like a skateboard.
I realise that from a materialistic viewpoint, there really doesn’t appear to be all that much going on in my life that Christmas but then again, that isn’t the point.
Despite all the things I’ve gone through as a teenager, young adult, working woman, single parent, remarrying et al, my time spent at the flat was one of the very best ever. Whenever I think of that period in my life, I smile and my heart feels full. It was a time filled with joy and gaiety and love, and not only during Christmas.
Trims and gifts, they are but fleeting. Family. Memories. Love. They go much deeper than we know, and for as long as these things remain, there will always be hope and peace.
Finally made the transition to AV and am now on YouTube as well as Snapchat (sheela.goh), would adore your support through subscribing to my channel/adding my snaps.
p/s my photos are by Sofia Touassa
I link up here.