Memories of Christmas Past

Memories of Christmas Past

With Christmas 2020 not quite being the same as any other year, with loved ones gone and restrictions imposed, I thought I’d look back through some memories of Christmas gone by.

Every year, a month or so before Christmas (or whenever I started talking about it), Mum would say “Christmas is cancelled this year!”. Every year!

Going to see Father Christmas at our local department store was always an exciting trip. Downstairs in the basement, us kids would queue up to see Father Christmas. You didn’t just get to see Father Christmas, you went on a journey too! We would all file into a room with benches. It was like a big sleigh. I think some music would play and the sides would move with snowy scenery going by. After a few minutes, it would all come to a stop and we’d queue to see Father Christmas and get a present. I used to think it was amazing. I totally expected to walk out of Father Christmas’s grotto and be somewhere else. No other Father Christmas experience ever matched it!

Father Christmas and his sleigh.

When I was around 9 years old or so, a school friend told me she’d seen Father Christmas in the sky the previous year. I was at that age where I was questioning his existence, but if a friend had seen him flying through the sky with his reindeer and sleigh then surely he must exist! Late that Christmas Eve, I crept out of my bedroom and spent a good while looking out of the landing window (I have no idea why I didn’t look out through my bedroom window!). I didn’t see him, but then I shouldn’t have expected to… My Christmas stocking (a.k.a. One of Dad’s welly socks) was never filled until gone 5am on Christmas morning. It’s almost as if he delivered everyone else’s presents and then came back to ours!

Sitting on the floor in the school hall, eagerly awaiting a visit from Father Christmas and everyone debating which village stalwart would be pretending to be him that year. Would it be Mr Kendrick or maybe Mr Haynes? Hushed whispers as Father Christmas walked in. Class by class we would be called up to see Father Christmas and be given a small, token Christmas present.

Singing carols in the school choir… One year I recall us singing at the church and then at the pub opposite the school. Someone offered us a mince pie each. I politely declined, but they were most insistent and put one in my hand anyway. I couldn’t eat it, so I carried that bloody, sticky mince pie until we got back to the school and I could put it in the bin!

One Christmas Day, someone had the idea of driving to the seaside (about an hour’s drive away). So after lunch, off we all went (my parents, Nan & Grandad, my brother and I) to a cold and windy Borth! My overriding memory of that day? We saw Father Christmas get out of a car, wave at us and go and visit some old folks. It turns out that Father Christmas retires to Borth after a long night of delivering presents!

Father Christmas attending a Christmas tree.

Christmas evenings would be spent in front of the TV and we’d often play draughts. Well, that was until the year I beat Dad 8-1 and I don’t think we’ve played it since! These days, Mum and I will play Scrabble (which can be interesting after a few glasses of wine!).

What are your memories of Christmas Past?


  1. Carol says:

    Fond family memories – when I was a pre-schooler and woke up one Christmas morning, I found my older sister and parents on the porch staring at the sky. My sister was saying “is it him?” My mother looked confused and said ” I don’t know what that is.” Was it Santa, I don’t know.

  2. I always think of my grandmother who took us on a train to see Santa. It was at a big store and he came every year. My grandmother took us every year for Christmas. She is no longer with us but was surprised to hear that it was one of my favorite Christmas memories when I told her.
    Have a wonderful evening.

  3. Kris P says:

    I enjoyed your recap of Christmases past, Nikki. I hope this Christmas, as odd as it may be under the circumstances, still brings joy. My mother debunked the Santa Claus/Father Christmas story when I was still a tot but I remember that my parents curtained off our view of our early Christmas trees until Christmas morning anyway. Possibly my worst Christmas was when my brother and I found presents in a closet ahead of time and ruined our own surprise. I also have fond memories of my stepfather making ornaments for my husband and I to hang on the tree in our first house.

  4. Bijoux says:

    Those are wonderful memories. There was a department store in the city that we would visit to see Santa and you walked through a magical winter wonderland to get to him. When I was in college, my best friend convinced me to go with him and walk through that same winter wonderland one Xmas. Honestly, it still seemed amazing to me as a 20 year old!

  5. Hi Nikki,

    Although I never realised until I was much older, we never had a lot of money when my brother and I were very young, so my dad used to make a lot of our Christmas presents. I can vividly remember an amazing doll’s house, fully kitted out, which was my pride and joy. My brother had a farmyard one year and a railway track the next, all made with love I know!

    In recent times. many of my best Christmas memories are of the Disney kind, as we spent 25 Christmas’s in Orlando and have treated just about all of our nieces and nephews and their families, at least once. The kids faces to be in the theme parks and resorts, were priceless and of course, Santa knew that they wouldn’t be at home, but knew exactly where to find them!

    This year there will just be the two of us, which is how it has been since March, so I am looking forward to the day when we can have those hugs back from the youngsters!

    Happy Christmas and here’s to a much better 2021 🙂

    Yvonne Xx

  6. Kelly says:

    What lovely stories and photos! I have many fond memories, both from my own childhood, and that of my children.

    *sigh*….. yes, this one will be like no other, since we won’t have anyone to our house.

  7. Aw so nice to think back on Christmases past, especially since this year is going to be so different. I love the tradition of all of my holiday meals with family – looking forward to that next year!

  8. A Disney Christmas must be something! (reading your comments 🙂 ) Ours were much simpler and traditional. Last year was very special, with a church service at Leeds Cathedral and the rest of the day with our son’s family. This year… I’m not even sure yet, what we’re eating or where. I liked your memories. Merry Christmas, Nikki, and joy to come in the New Year.

  9. Lisa says:

    What lovely family memories! We used to go and see Santa in the department store too, I’d forgotten about that until I read this! Happy Christmas, Nikki.

  10. Jo says:

    Such lovely memories of childhood Christmases (except for the mince pie debacle). It’s lovely to look back, I have such happy memories of Christmas time, I just hope I’ve created those same happy memories for my own children.

  11. Diana Studer says:

    As a child – why do we leave the tree and ornaments up till father’s birthday (6 January)? And my mother explained about Twelfth Night and the 12 Days of Christmas.

    Later my Swiss MIL carefully decorating the (real) tree with REAL lit candles! All that work on Christmas Eve for carols and reading the Christmas story … and down it all came again on Christmas Day.

    I put it all up with the Advent Wreath, and it stays till birthday / Twelfth Night.

  12. Sophie says:

    This was such a lovely read, great memories! I don’t have any Santa memories, I think I figured it out pretty young. The consistent thing in my house was everyone trying to hide the mulled wine from my grandad as he had a habit of getting a little too merry before we’d even served dinner (that tradition still stands)

  13. jeanie says:

    Oh Nikki, I love this post so much. Your memories are not only wonderful to you, but magical to me, too, and I can sense your excitement, awe in joy in recalling every one.

    I posted some of my favorites in an earlier post but a couple here — our family Christmases with my cousins which included a present wrapping contest and lots of singing! Finding “The Lie Detector Game” under mom and dad’s bed with my cousin when I was nine — and not telling! Decorating and wrapping with my mom. And on and on it goes!

  14. Barbara says:

    Seeing the Christmas tree (which seemed giant and touched the ceiling) fully decorated on Christmas morning. My parents left the final decorations until Christmas Eve, and there was that magic moment on seeing it all sparkling, with snow (cotton wool) and the fairy (she was real) on the top.

  15. Ann Coleman says:

    Thanks for sharing your memories! One of my favorites is waking up in the middle of the night on Christmas Eve, and then climbing into bed with my sister where we would whisper about what gifts we hoped to get until we finally fell back asleep. And the next time we woke up, it was Christmas morning, and we could run to the tree to find out!

  16. I remember department store Santas too. How could he be in so many places at once? That always puzzled me, but I still believed. I was a daughter of the manse so a lot of Christmas was church based. An annual Christmas party in a church hall where I was allowed to stay up till midnight – imagine! Carol singing with church members, which always ended up with supper in one couple’s house where I was told I was eating turkey. Very disappointing, I imagined it was something exotic but it was just like chicken.

  17. Michelle says:

    It sounds like you had lovely Christmasses, far more exciting than mine. I’ve never seen Santa on Christmas day 🙂

    All the best, Michelle (

  18. That was a lovely read, Nikki. I remember the journeys to see Santa too. One that particularly sticks in my mind was in a spaceship – and I really thought that’s what it was – in Handley’s, Southsea. Magical. I still think Christmas can be magical. I hope you have one this year – Merry Christmas!

  19. Faye says:

    These are such lovely memories! I don’t have any specific memories of meeting Santa as a child but we have one really great family photo of me and my older brother with Santa when I was about 3 – it’s so cute! My favourite Christmas memories are simply sitting and watching festive films on Christmas Eve, wearing a new set of Christmas Eve pyjamas (which for some reason is a tradition in my house haha) x

  20. Aimsy says:

    Oh, these are lovely Christmas memories to have! Love the innocence of children and how things are interpreted. I remember being absolutely convinced that I had heard Santa in the house delivering presents…turns out my mum used to wear jingle bells when taking the presents downstairs to put under the tree haha!
    Thanks for sharing!
    Aimsy xoxo

  21. Anca says:

    What a lovely post. It was wonderful to read about your memories.

    It reminded me of a Santa experience. I was so eager to get the gift, that I made up a very short poem (something like the squirrel went up the tree, the squirrel came down the tree) to get mine faster. It was quite embarrassing for my grandparents, who were saying that I knew by heart long poems, which I did. :))

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