01) Variation On The Theme Of A White Christmas
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"My younger brother, Ian, (who passed away almost 12 years ago now,) and I shared some very poignant memories of Christmas together. Those Christmases, in the late 1950s, were uncorrupted by the kind of 'knowing' that children have today. We were naive and innocent, in a way which would be now thought of as embarrassingly 'uncool,' yet the memory of those times burns bright and warm and meaningful.
I remember he and I sharing a bed on Christmas Eve and me reading to him from a book which contained the story of 'Peter And Pam's Christmas,' beautifully illustrated by an artist that, to this day, sadly, I have no idea of who he was.
Ian and I would become so excited by the story and what it promised for Christmas morning and, even though I suspected that Santa Claus was really just mum and dad, I never revealed my suspicions to Ian who still held on to that magical idea of a white-bearded old man with a jolly laughing face coming down the chimney with the gift of toys.
My father, (who worked as the manager of 'Broughton And Son's' shop in Hunslet, Leeds,) always made a great effort to create a magical Christmas Day morning for us.
The shop sold, amongst other things (such as radios and televisions,) a selection of Dinky Toys, Meccano construction kits and Hornby 'Dublo-O' Train sets, which always found their way onto the lavish, (as I remember it,) display laid out on our living room floor on Christmas morning.
Ian and I would wake early in much excitement and await our parent's permission to go and see what 'Santa' had brought us...and it always was wonderful.
Not only Dinky Toys, Hornby trains and Meccano sets but Dan Dare ray guns, Roy Rogers cowboy outfits, magnetic Driving Test games, Magic Robot Quiz games, Eagle, Dandy, Beano, Beezer and Topper annuals, sweets and chocolates and a host of other goodies. These things would keep my brother and I occupied throughout the day whilst we had visits from relatives, my grandma, sometimes my aunt and uncle or neighbours.
And somehow, though I now know it's not really accurate, those childhood Christmases always seemed blessed by snow. There was certainly snow at times, though whether prior to, or after the Christmas festivities I'm not sure. But I can vividly recall building snowmen and, one time, an actual Igloo in the front garden of our house at 28, Conistone Crescent on Eastmoor Estate, an Igloo which was built and shared in collaboration with our upstairs neighbour's daughter (and childhood friend,) Bronwyn Jackson, who was just a little bit older than myself. She was someone I had a very warm friendship with, back in those long ago 1950s childhood days."