Saturday, 6 December 2014

So this is Christmas - Christmas Presents

Christmas Presents - what a topic. The anticipation as a child in the weeks leading up to Christmas. The letter to Santa. The decorations. The Tree. The hints to grandparents, aunts and cousins. All this lead into the expectations and anxious time just before Christmas.

Would Santa come? Had I been good? Had my mother let Santa know just what I wanted? What if Santa didn't come?

Christmas 1930 at Denmora
My mother told of Christmas when she was a girl. Her grandparents had a large Christmas party in the week before Christmas at their home Denmora in Cowlishaw Street Bowen Hills. Decorated tree outside on the lawn and Santa in person. Of course, later she had worked out that it was her Uncle Vic but it had taken a few years to work that out. All her cousins were there and presents galore. These two pictures - hand coloured - are of the 1930 Christmas.

Christmas 1930 at Denmora 
I am so happy to have these photos of that time, my grandmother fortunately kept everything - my mother however does not and I inherited my grandmothers photos and memory books. My grandmother is on the far left of this photo with a small boy holding on to her. My mother is just behind the girl standing in the front on the left of Santa.

So to get back to presents. I used to be given 10 shillings to buy presents. My grandmother would help me buy my parent's gifts and my mother my grandparent's gifts. Much thought would go into these gifts and some of them were truly horrible. I used to love Penney's in Queen Street in Brisbane. There were always some cheap gaudy things on sale there. I remember years later when I was about 30 my mother cleaning out her cupboards and saying what am I keeping this thing for? and my answer I gave that to you when I was 9. My mother of course immediately backtracked and said of course and put it back in the cupboard. It was a truly horrible china dish with bright red and green flowers - I must have thought it was wonderful when I was 9.

Then there were the presents for Aunts, Uncles, Cousins etc. Also of course for the nuns at school. My stepfather's sister was a nun at All Hallows' so she knew just the thing for teachers. My mother did the shopping and gift wrapping for the nuns. I am an only child so have no siblings, just lots of cousins. My mother usually organised gifts for them.

After purchasing the gifts they had to be wrapped - again my grandmother was the doyen of gift wrapping and my mother learnt from her. I have never been able to gift wrap like my Nan. She literally spent hours before Christmas, sorting wrapping paper (never reused), ribbons, making bows, adding suitable decorations and on it went. I was always able to help and wondered why there was never any of the presents for me. They miraculously appeared under the Christmas tree on Christmas morning - all beautifully wrapped. Except those from Santa that were in a stocking and a pillowslip.

My tricycle 1956
My favourite Christmas gifts were my tricycle, shown in the photo on my aunt's block of land at Holland Park in 1956. Also my walking doll that I shared in a previous post.

We opened our Christmas gifts on Christmas morning before breakfast. Some at home with my parents - Santa's presents and then before Christmas lunch at my grandparents where the big, big Christmas happened.

Then more people called in and brought presents, friends of my grandparents, uncles, aunts, cousins galore, neighbours. Presents everywhere and my mother collecting up the paper and ribbon. Don't know what she did with them as they were never reused. No recycling then.

I was allowed to collect the presents from under the tree and then dispense them to the appropriate person. Everyone had to have all their presents then we could all open them together. Another Christmas Rule of my grandmother. As I said before - she was the doyen of Christmas. How I miss her.

1 comment:

  1. Helen, I loved reading all your Christmas posts... lots of similarities with my Christmases, yet also lots of differences. I have been the baker of all Christmas goodies as long as I can remember, just love it. However, this year, I haven't done a thing... next year I will again.