Monday, January 2, 2012
Christmas past--age 11
Our time in England was not good. We stayed with my uncle and his family for about a month, then moved to a dingy attic room for a while--then--well, it's easier to remember the places by the schools I attended: Sigdon Road while I was at my uncle's; Drayton Park School when we moved out of the attic into another one-room place; then in with some of my mother's friends when I attended Bounds Green School, and finally we moved to a house in Battersea where I attended a school called Surrey Lane, but later changed its name to William Blake. In all that time, we had one Christmas--that was in Battersea. My mother was not around very much--having found that pubs were more entertaining than our less than elegant homes. So, on Christmas Eve, our first in England, I found myself alone and thinking that this was not what I had heard about Merry Christmas in Merry England. I had sixpence in my pocket which was supposed to be for my lunch the next day. But, ever the optimist, I set out for the shops in the high street where I was able to buy a Christmas tree, about 18 inches tall. It cost a penny ha'penny. Then, I looked around and found a shop that sold some decorations, but all I could afford was a thrupenny paper angel. They came in green or red. I made a mistake and bought a green one. When I got them home, I realized that the green angel on the green tree didn't look very festive. My aunt in Winnipeg had sent us a food parcel (because food was still rationed in England), and I found that she had included some candies with foil wrappers. So I unwrapped all the candies and made decorations out of the foil, and trimmed the tree. No lights, of course. Even if I'd had them, we had no electricity in that house--only gaslight or candles. It didn't occur to me to try to put candles on the tree, and that was undoubtedly a very good thing.