Christmas 1955



Timeless simplicity brings pleasure to children of Christmases past... a contrast to modern day commercial fanfare


The arrival of the tree

was almost as exciting

as Christmas Day itself.


The perpetual wait

trips to the front door

interspersed with long gazes

at the prepared bucket

on shiny linoleum.


The interminable wait

broken by the flurry

of heavy footsteps

and the thrusting

of a trunk into dirt.


A prickly pine

with pungent odour

that made me sneeze

stolen from the river bank

had found a new home

for the last days

of its life.


We watched

as older sisters

dressed it in decorations

we’d made

from silver foil bottle-tops

and cardboard

and those exquisite paper lanterns

my mother found on sale years before.


Christmas wrapping

covered the bucket

twisted red and green streamers


from lightshade to walls.


The tree

and the otherwise brown room

smiled with colour.


I smiled too:

it was just two days

until Santa’s visit

when we would leave

Christmas cake and cordial

to send him on his way.


We’d wake

and ‘look, but not touch’

until Mass and breakfast were over

then presents would be handed

one by one and we’d watch

each treasure unwrapped.


Home-made second-hand

sometimes bargain-purchased


left in Santa’s name

filled our home with joy.


c. Kathryn Coughran

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