Our family members share fond memories
Kriszti, our The Way We Care Lead at Milward House in Tunbridge Wells, has been gathering Christmas memories from our family members to make into a special booklet that will be given as a gift to everyone living in the home. Kriszti says:
“Christmas is a special time for many of the older Christians living with us, evoking powerful associations with family and faith. Through gathering these memories we’ve come to know our family members better, a key part of our The Way We Care approach.
"Some of our family members really opened up. I’ve found that some of the stories shared resonate with memories my grandparents shared with me of celebrating Christmas in Hungary (where I’m from) during and after the war when life was hard and people didn’t have much. We hope the booklet will be a lovely way to preserve these memories, and that it will be shared with and enjoyed by relatives of our family members too as their discover stories from their parents and grandparents.”
Here are some of the memories that will be shared in the Milward House booklet:
“We used to make things for each other, knitting or sewing by hand, from a pattern book. We were five children and our parents didn’t do a stocking but a pillowcase. We had a lot of relatives who used to send presents – one of our relatives from Folkestone would bring them all to us from all the relatives there – and we put them all in the pillowcase. We had to wait until after breakfast then open the pillowcase full of presents. My mum and dad used to laugh about it afterwards because there was paper everywhere from five children’s pillowcases! They used the paper for the fire.
"We then had a later lunch and we had to sit at the table for the whole meal, not like today when children get up and down all the time. Then we listened to the Queen’s Speech.”
“As a child I believed in Father Christmas. I used to stand at the window and was convinced I could see Santa with his sleigh. I was about eight or nine when I woke up one year and saw my parents
filling the stocking with presents and then I was so disappointed. They put the stocking on the end of the bed. We only had an orange, chocolate and maybe one little toy because mum and dad
were not so well off. Christmas was quite quiet as there was no TV. We made our own entertainment.”
“I was one of five girls – I was the middle one. We were working class people. My dad always had a job. We grew up in East London. My mum and dad always made Christmas special, they let us know
about Father Christmas. They always put presents for the morning and there would be a
stocking, too. I loved opening my stocking and finding things like books (I liked a good
read), as well as pencils, an exercise book, nuts, an orange and little blowers that whistled. We didn’t often have jigsaw puzzles as they were too big for the stocking.
“The poverty in East London was dire. On Christmas Day we all had to stay in one room together because of the heating – we had an open fire. Mum would be busy with the cooking and Christmas
lunch was a real treat to eat. After lunch Dad ordered a chocolate log which was sliced and we
all had a piece of that, and we all had Christmas pudding. By the end of the day we were all full up with chocolates.
“Christmas was very special to us. I knew the Lord and my parents told me that Jesus loves me.”
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Here are some memories from family members at other homes:
Maureen, Evington Home, Leicester
“When I was a young girl, we didn’t have a Christmas tree or stockings. My mum used to
make a lucky dip box with colourful wool strands hanging out with numbers on. Each person selected a number and then pulled out the gift with the corresponding number. On Christmas Day, we didn’t play games but went for a walk after Christmas dinner. My parents weren’t believers so faith and church were not important. Christmas was about celebrating with family and friends.
“When I was older, married and now a believer, I did go to church. My husband was a director in mission areas in the South Pacific and I was a nanny. We were often in different countries so it
was not the same as in the UK. I remember going carol singing and singing about snow and ice in the hot weather armed with insect spray not gloves and a scarf! When we were in Australia they put up a sort of bauble decoration representing snow and ice, which I found amusing.”
Rosemary, Framland, Wantage
“We would always have a family Christmas with all the extended family coming to the farm on Christmas Eve and staying over to Christmas Day. My husband had five brothers and one year we had 21 people arrive! On Christmas Eve we would all sit around and have sausage and mash, after which everyone would help get all the vegetables and puddings prepared for the Christmas Day meal, which included a huge turkey able to feed everyone.
“We would all join in playing silly games. My daughter would play the guitar and we all sang Christmas carols together. When it came to presents each of the children would get their own stocking with presents in, including chocolate coins and an orange. For the adults there was one large Christmas stocking which had everyone’s present in. And so we sat around as each person received their gift.
“There were those of our family who would pop off to the local church to celebrate Christmas, while everyone else might go for a walk.
“We weren’t keen on glittery decorations, preferring the green of holly and ivy. To spread the cost of Christmas I would save all year round. Also, throughout the year when I saw something that I thought a family member or friend would like, I would buy it. I often looked around charity shops for little gifts – it’s wonderful what you can find.
“We did have hard times, but we were always careful and never ran into debt. I find it is better to cut down on things and only buy what matters. At the end of the day, it is family and friends that matter at Christmas, not things.”
That God would be very close to our family members this Christmas as they reflect on the sure and certain hope we have in Jesus.
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