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U3A Writing: Happy Christmases

Jennie Boothroyd recalls Christmases of yesteryear.

As I get older (Oh No You’re Not!) I look back with affection on past Christmases. It has always been an important time for me as a religious festival and a family one too.

As a child I shared in the life of Lepton with my parents, which was more church and chapel centred than it is today. The choir went out on Christmas Eve singing carols until the wee small hours. Grange Moor Brass Band came around the village playing on Boxing Day, and there was a sense of community fellowship.

The Sunday School party in the day school was dominated by a huge tree laden with a gift for each child, and we had great fun trying to find the one with our name on it. The Mothers’ Union bustled about (hatted of course) making tea and sandwiches, and we played games, both boisterous and kissing.

I remember that when our first child was young, realising that one present was still languishing, hidden away in a cupboard, and having to wriggle my way out of that one.

The highlight in those days was the nativity play performed by the Sunday School to adoring parents and grandparents. Oh the difficulty of getting the angels’ wings to stay in place and stop the shepherds from squabbling around the crib!

One year, which will be forever in my mind, was when our vicar decided to use his donkey to transport Mary up the aisle. Unfortunately, it misbehaved at the chancel steps, and there was a frantic search for a brush and shovel.

Since then we have scaled new heights when my husband as innkeeper had a bed built on top of the pulpit. As each party came to knock on the ‘door’, he had to climb down and growl, “Round the back,” meaning the stable where Jesus and Mary were. For weeks afterwards when they saw him in the village, the young ones would call after him, “Round The Back Denis.” They loved it and so did he.

Nowadays we still have a midnight service, and after all the rushing around for weeks it’s good to put aside the commercials and to focus on the event at Bethlehem. So what? He was to die 30 years later on a cross, but what a blessing for us. For without that birth there would have been no salvation.

So may you all have a happy and a blessed Christmas, each in your own way.


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