Christmas in past years

Many of us will have a photo, like this one, which I found whilst rummaging in my store cupboard this morning.

Sixties Santa and Sixties Me ?

Sixties Santa and Sixties Me ?

I think I am about 4 years old in this photo which would date this Santa meeting  to Christmas 1960. However  this date of 1960 doesn’t gel with the information I have on the photographer,   J Ambrose, who was apparently at  137 Armagh Street only in  1962 and 1964.  So, perhaps, I am older in the photo than I imagine I was.

Early Photographers in Christchurch

Early Photographers in Christchurch

I don’t remember meeting Santa, or having my photo taken with him, but I do remember that short-sleeved cardigan I am wearing. I loved it, with its lacy pattern, soft beige wool and shiny, faceted, glass-like buttons. My mother’s sister made it for me, and my only sadness over it was that it was hardly ever cold enough to wear it in my childhood homeland, Fiji.

The Santa photo, though, was not taken in Fiji. It was, I expect, taken during one of our ‘home-leave’ visits to Christchurch. And, I am thinking that Santa and I probably greeted each other at Santa’s corner in Hay’s Department Store  “Hay’s – the friendly store where everything is different!” http://lostchristchurch.org.nz/hays-building-oxford-terrace-c-1959    Hay’s no longer exists. It became Farmers in 1987. And the buildings which Hay’s, followed by Farmers, used to occupy no longer exist either, because they  had to be demolished after the earthquakes  (2010/2011).

Now, moving on from the Southern Hemisphere to the Northern one… as Santa must do, for, after all, we are amongst the first in the world to see Christmas Day.  [ Which begs the question, “Why doesn’t Santa live at  the South Pole?” It would be more convenient and fuel-efficient, considering the direction he has to travel.]

I digress….here are some photos of my first ever Northern Hemisphere winter.  This is the house in Valhalla, Westchester County, New York, where I spent Christmas in 1977. We didn’t, to my great disappointment, have a White Christmas, but, in early 1978, when this photo was taken, Mother Nature made up for the lack of snow on Christmas Day.

Valhalla 1978

Valhalla 1978

In February of that year,  I went from scarcely knowing what snow looked like to experiencing the  Blizzard of 1978.  I don’t believe I will ever forget the extraordinary day we walked in the middle of Second Avenue, Manhattan.  It was completely, and eerily, devoid of traffic. I didn’t own a pair of boots back then but I did have wooden clogs, with rubber heel and toe plates, and I found they were excellent  for negotiating the slippery pavements. ( Yay for Clogs! Does Santa have clogs? He should 🙂  Sinterklaas has a pair, I am sure.)

And here is the final photo from the cupboard rummage; me, in the aftermath of the Blizzard, in my friend’s garden at Valhalla. I cut a Santa like figure, don’t you think?

Is Santa lost?

Is it Santa?

© silkannthreades

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97 thoughts on “Christmas in past years

  1. mmmarzipan

    I love the photos, your writing and this whole post in general! You share memories in such a wonderful, seemingly effortless, and thoroughly enjoyable-to-read way 🙂

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      Thank you, thank you. It’s a pleasure to remember them and share them. I am sure you have some lovely memories of your Australian Christmas times, too 🙂

      Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      Thank you. I thought about putting a photo of my present ‘older’ face next to it but then I thought that might be a little scary to see how much I had changed 😀

      Reply
  2. teamgloria

    may we be the first to wish you a most merry boxing day!

    (and apologies on behalf of the northern hemisphere superiority for claiming santa for their own – we *chuckled* at your south pole remark – Much more sensible 😉

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      Thank you. Our Boxing Day is very subdued because we are feeling a little jaded from much Christmas Day merriment. Santa did find his way here despite the strangeness of his itinerary.

      Reply
  3. Mike Howe

    Merry Christmas to you and your family 🙂 Thank you for all your interesting posts this year and a big thank you for all your kind words about my music. Have a wonderful time!

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      I don’t remember feeling cute but I guess I was thought of in that way. I do have even earlier memories too; which I think is amazing. What do you think is your earliest memory of Christmas or anything?

      Reply
  4. Virginia Duran

    I bet you were the lovely girl everyone wanted to hold and make smile! I think the first picture reminded us all to our own Christmas memories, thanks for that. Oh and I laughed at the thought of Santa moving to the South Pole haha, I always thought Santa lived on the North Pole but worked very close to where I lived. Also, I remember one Christmas with my family, I became aware we were spending them in Toronto the day before and I couldn’t stop crying because “Santa was not going to find us at home and he was not going to leave anything for us”. But the next morning my mother reminded me of how smart Santa was haha. Good times 🙂

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      Santa, no matter where he lives, always seems to know where to find us. Your mother was right about how smart he is, but if he has trouble getting round these days, you might be able to adapt Julius to his needs 😀 😀

      Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      They are precious and I like that WordPress is helping me to record them and keep them fresh in my mind. I don’t live in the past, or glorify it, but it is reassuring to know that I still carry these happy and different times with me.

      Reply
  5. Clanmother

    You really were a sweet child!! And I bet that you were always on the “nice” list. Christmas is a wonderful time for memories and for creating traditions that get modified throughout the years. (I now send my Christmas cards via e-mail). All the very, very best to you and yours during the holidays season!

    “Whatever else be lost among the years,
    Let us keep Christmas still a shining thing:
    Whatever doubts assail us, or what fears,
    Let us hold close one day, remembering
    Its poignant meaning for the hearts of men.
    Let us get back our childlike faith again.” Grace Noll Crowell

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      Clanmother, I know I was a ‘tiresome’ baby who wouldn’t sleep but I think, after that initial phase, I was sweet, like most little ones are 🙂 And, I love the quote with the idea of holding one day close, as close as we would hold any precious baby. Speaking of sweetness, one of my followers told me more about ‘a sweetie for the sermon” Here are her words ” About the sermon sweeties – we called them Pan Drops in Scotland but now I think of them as Mint Imperials. Woe betide any child dropping a sweetie and it would roll under the seats and cause merriment. I believe the older worthies calculated the sermon as ‘a two sweetie’, or ‘three sweetie length’, and so on . ” Isn’t that wonderful? I think the idea was that children were given Pan Drops by the adults to keep them happy during the sermon.

      Reply
  6. Mrs. P

    What an adorable picture of you and Santa! And, I totally love the dress. How wonderful it was made for you…an art that has almost completely disappeared. I had one white Christmas while visiting the in-laws in Oklahoma, it was only a light snow, not even enough to have fun in…but I did enjoy it never-the-less. I too had clogs, real ones…which I found were terribly uncomfortable and hurt my feet.

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      Gosh, how strange it seems to me that I have had more white Christmases than you :). I guess my clogs were a modern version of the really traditional clogs. I found them very comfortable.

      Reply
  7. April

    I love the photos!

    I have had 2 white Christmases in my life. One was the first Christmas of my oldest child, and the second was a couple of years ago in the Atlanta, Georgia area. We received LOTS of snow. How strange to have a white Christmas in the South.

    Reply
  8. tiny lessons blog

    Wonderful Christmas memories you have! Old photos are real treasures. I wish I had a picture of Santa and me, but I don’t. We did not have a photographer nearby in the little village where I grew up. Isn’t it funny that we may remember some clothes better than the “associated” events? I have a distinct memory of one summer dress I had when I was 4 years old, how it looked and how sleek the material felt. Yes, you’d make a good Santa in the snowy garden 🙂

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      When I was a young one, I once had to be the Santa at my mother’s kindergarten. That was fun, being all dressed in red and wearing a cotton wool beard. Perhaps I have missed my calling…I should have been a Santa 🙂 I am not really a clothes person but I do remember many of my childhood dresses; I think because a new dress was an event; something that either had to be specially made for me or had to be sent from NZ. We didn’t have easy access to clothes shops. Perhaps it was the same for you.

      Reply
  9. lagottocattleya

    Without memories we are lost and cannot find ourselves. You are an expert on finding photos and searching your mind for memorable moments to show u!. And, you do look like Santa…in the last photo.

    My first Christmas in the Southern hemisphere was, as you know, spent in NZ, That day will never be forgotten. It was an adventure, and a totally weird feeling with warm breezes, T-shirts and Santa’s red and white clothes…

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      Our NZ Christmas is certainly different, climate-wise, isn’t it? I am glad you have been able to experience an NZ one, just as I am glad to have had my northern hemisphere Christmas. However, perhaps, my all time most interesting Christmas experience was in Cairo! That’s a story for another day.

      Reply
  10. BEAUTYCALYPSE

    that’s a heart-warming post! 🙂 it seems you are hiding from the paparazzo as much as you are from the cold in the second one 😉

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      It was definitely the cold! My winter-hardened NY friends who took the photo most likely thought it was funny that I had to cover my face in order to breathe!

      Reply
      1. BEAUTYCALYPSE

        pshaw, those winter-hardened types! 😀
        Oh but well, as I Russian I get a lot of “why, that’s certainly not cold for *you*” – which leads to me explaining that not even the Siberians can warm up in the fridge, let alone someone from the milder Moscow climate… 😉

        Reply
  11. greenlightlady

    Old pictures are such a gift with all the memories they bring back. Your picture with Santa is probably a favorite of your mom’s. You look like an angel. 🙂 I am so glad that I took a lot of pictures of our kids when they were little…

    Christmas Blessings ~ Wendy

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      Christmas Blessings to you Wendy. I do look sweet in that photo 😉 and I am very glad that my parents either took photos of us or arranged for photos to be taken,. I wonder what I asked Santa to bring me for Christmas. Perhaps I was too shy to even talk to him!

      Reply
  12. Forest So Green

    I love your photos and memories. I really like the white hat in the last photo because I used to have one just like it. Merry Christmas 🙂

    Reply
      1. utesmile

        I do remember one occasion where my parents took us to a do and Santa was there to give us presents, obviously bought by my parents. We do not in Germany have Santa who gives presents but the “Christ kind” who will then on the 24th in the evenings leave them there for us. I never sat on Santa’s knee….. even though I always was a good girl… hehe well most of the time.

        Reply
        1. Gallivanta Post author

          I am sure you were wonderfully good 🙂 I like the idea of the Christ Kind bring gifts on Christmas Eve. There was an item in the newspaper today on this tradition. I thought of you as I was reading it.

  13. Just Add Attitude

    It’s lovely to have those memories and those old photos. We so seldom these days, with our digital capture of moments in time, get the images we take printed off, which I think is a great shame. 😉

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      I have almost thrown out my old print photos on occasions, thinking ‘too much clutter!” but I am glad I didn’t. It’s fun to stumble upon old scenes in old photos. Nowadays, I sometimes take some of my favourite digital images and print them into a book (chapbook?) format for handy coffee table browsing. But I don’t do that often enough really.

      Reply
  14. vsperry

    The Blizzard of ’78 caused us not to have school for THREE DAYS! (an unheard of event in northern CT.) Snow is a magical thing, even more so on Christmas.
    How funny that we lived so close to each other in ’77/’78, maybe I passed by your house on the way to NYC!

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      It is strange to think we weren’t so far away from each other back then! Did you travel to NYC on the train or by road? Snow is magical but I was completely terrified when I woke during the first night of that storm and there was not a sound anywhere in the city; I honestly thought the world had ended; the silence was so eerie. Can you imagine Manhattan in silence?????

      Reply
      1. vsperry

        Mostly by car, by then the train had stopped coming as far north as we liked. I can see how the silence was unnerving although I could also see a certain magical quality in it. I was in the country so silence was not “unheard of”…pardon the pun.

        Reply
  15. Ellen Grace Olinger

    I remember some hard winters. We lived in Illinois in 1978. Also, I loved clogs too – wore them when working as a waitress and cook at Pizza Hut, years ago. Always good to read and view your posts. I like knowing your part of the world better, and not so far away!

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      That winter was an interesting experience for me; I also remember the icicles hanging off the buildings in Manhattan. I would struggle to cope with such harsh weather year in and year out, I think. Aren’t clogs wonderful? I don’t own any now, sadly.

      Reply
  16. KerryCan

    I really, really love old photos and these are great! How fun to see the young you and the mysterious bundled-up you. Were we live we pretty much take a white Christmas for granted–we have an ice storm looming right now . . .

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      I wonder if you are all iced-over by now? I had to cover my face in the bundled up photo in order to breathe; the air was so cold it took my breath away. You will know what I mean about that level of cold!

      Reply
        1. Gallivanta Post author

          I was not well-equipped to cope with the cold back then. Nowadays I would be much better prepared. All the same, I am happy to feel the warmth of the sun today and to know that I will be able to breathe easy this Christmas. I will enjoy your White/Ice Christmas from afar 🙂

  17. Katrina Lester

    Wonderful memories that I can share with you. I remember also sitting on Father Christmas’s knee in Hay’s department store. I doubt I could put my hands on the pictures though. It was a favourite store in our youth in Christchurch. And I remember the blizzard of 1978 in New York when I joined you in that city. It was a truly memorable winter for snow. I remember slipping on the icy pavement on Park Avenue knocking a man’s cigar out of his mouth with my arms flailing to steady myself.

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      I knew I had that picture somewhere but it was so surprising to find it this morning. As it happens I also found a lovely photo of you from 1978! A morning of discoveries. I do remember Hay’s a little from when I was older but I was too young to remember that Santa visit; it may well have been the only time I sat on Santa’s knee! That winter in New York was incredible wasn’t it? Was that your first real winter in the Northern Hemisphere, too?

      Reply
  18. Juliet

    Your post reminds me of my first northern hemisphere Xmas, in Cornwall. Not only did it snow on Xmas Day but a red robin appeared. You make a great Santa.

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      Our first Northern Xmas is a fascinating experience isn’t it? All the things that were part of our learned ,traditional Christmas folklore are suddenly real; the snow, the robins, the holly etc. In New York, I remember the red cardinals.

      Reply

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