The Ghosts of Christmas Past

Aunty Nellie


My Great Aunt Nellie (Grandma’s sister) and her husband Edgar, didn’t have any children, but every Christmas until they moved away to the coast, they would host the most amazing Christmas parties for the family. Towering above us in their large hallway would be a real Christmas tree. It was enormous with vibrant, twinkling lights and shimmering glass baubles, the like of which we’d never seen. Covered in festive wrapping and piled around its trunk were presents of every size. We played party games with prizes galore and no one ever missed out. We sang Christmas songs and danced the ‘Conga’, snaking from room to room and even up the stairs.

To us children, Angela, Hazel, Gerald and me, Aunty Nellie’s parties were the highlight of our year, an event to look forward to. Aunty Nellie went to so much effort to make these parties magical for us, she made us feel special and managed to create magnificent memories that would stay with us for the rest of our lives.

Christmas at Grandma’s House

Another of my favourite memories from Christmases past is spending Christmas at my grandparent’s house. My brother Gerald and I shared a big double bed in a bedroom that had an open fire and before going to bed my step-grandad would build it up with coal, giving the room a warm cosy glow, there was a small guard in front of it, but perhaps not very safe for two small children. My grandparents may also have been a little behind the times because we had stone hot water bottles in our bed, we’d never seen stone ones before, the ones at home were made from rubber.

The memory of lying in bed at Grandma’s, feeling excited about Christmas, watching the flames from the fire while listening to the sound of footsteps from the street outside, is a happy one. I liked the sound of high heeled shoes the best because they made a wonderful dull click click on the pavement.

One Christmas Eve whilst lying in bed, watching the flames dancing in the fire and listening out for the footsteps, I heard Santa’s sleigh bells as he made his way over the roof tops. I crept out of bed and looked out of the window, almost expecting to see his reindeer pulling the sleigh, but there was nothing to see. I worried that even if I couldn’t see Santa he might be able to see me, so I slipped back under the blankets and kept my eyes tightly shut for the rest of the night. The following morning I couldn’t wait to tell everyone about hearing sleigh bells.

I remember one year just after Christmas lunch, as Grandma was getting ready to play the piano, my step-grandad came in with a present for me and said “Look what I’ve found, it was stuck up the chimney in the front room, it must have fallen out of Santa’s sack!”  It was a child’s umbrella.I think Santa was very careless that year.


Photo credits:, Reader’s Digest

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