Friday, December 24, 2010

A Silly Christmas Wish

Nan and BampapIf you could go back in time which period would you choose?

It’s a pub question really. I’ve been asked it many times in my life and it’s always sparked off pleasant debate between friends.

In the past I think I’ve come up with all the obvious answers: Bethlehem around 0 AD, Avalon sometime in the Dark Ages, a safe distance from Pompeii in 79 AD... I’m sure we could all pick a historical time-frame that interests us on a personal level.

Since the death of my grandfather last Christmas – the last of my much loved grandparents – more and more I have found myself wishing I could leap back in time a far more modest amount of years. I find I am drawn far more than I used to be to World War II documentaries on television. Not out of any vicarious battle lust or schoolboy interest in fighter planes and war ships... but because the period is vividly associated in my mind with my Nan and Bampap (as we called them). It was a time when they were young adults and although they’d known each other a long time at this point their romance was only in its infancy.

I have old photographs of them taken in the 1940’s. They look both like and unlike the Nan and Bampap that I came to know and love after my birth in 1969. I find myself wondering what kind of people they were at this early and traumatic period in their lives. The world at war. Their hearts full of thoughts and hopes for themselves and their families – families I was 30 years away from being part of.

I would like to look upon them in colour – rather than the old black and white / sepia prints that I have in my possession. Would I speak to them? I don’t know. What could I say? Tell them I love them; who I am? I think in reality that would be impossible to do. So bittersweet. Sometimes I imagine myself catching up with my granddad during the war... pulling him to the ground as bullets strafe overhead; giving him a knowing look as he thanked me. A silly and embarrassing fantasy.

And then I would like to come forward in time a little bit. To Christmas sometime in the mid to late 70’s. Back when I was a kid and me and my 2 sisters, my mum and my dad would spend every Christmas and Boxing Day at my Nan’s house immersed in the effortlessly warm and joyous festivities that they seemed to weave around them every year. They were a big part of my childhood and teen Christmases. Inseparable in fact. I cannot approach a Christmas now without thinking of them and remembering all those Christmases gone by.

I wish I could see them again during this time. See myself with them. See myself with my whole family all around me. I would like to whisper invisibly into my own young ear... “Cherish this, cherish this...”

This Christmas, in lieu of travelling back through time, I shall take a few moments during the mad Christmas hubbub to sit quietly with my wife and my boys and I shall cherish it with all my heart.

I do hope you all do the same with those closest to you.

Have a very merry Christmas. I wish you all the very best for 2011. Thank you all for reading this year.



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44 comments:

London City Mum said...

Stephen - what a lovely post.

Xmas hugs & kisses to you too - but don't get too close as the PVC gets slippery.

LCM x

Rol said...

Steve, you know me. I'm known for sarcasm, cynicism and misanthropy. It's unlikely I can say anything sincere and have you believe it's genuine. You'll always be waiting for the punchline.

I have tears in my eyes right now. That was such a moving post. I hope you and your family have an excellent Christmas.

There is no punchline.

Steve said...

LCM: yeah I have that trouble with baby oil. Er. Allegedly. ;-)

Merry Christmas to you and yours! x

Steve said...

Rol: thank you. I am genunely touched by your very kind comment (and not just because it is so out of character!). Seriously - hope you and yours have a lovely Christmas. Thank you again.

Trish @ Mum's Gone to... said...

Lovely to have got to know you across the ether this year. Looking forward to a mixture of thought-provoking and silly posts from you in 2011: that's an order!
Have a wonderful Christmas with your family: it won't be long before you'll be poking them awake to get up on Christmas day!
Trish x

Steve said...

Trish: lovely to have met you too! I have noted for your order for next year and will do my best to meet it! As for waking the boys up... they'll be bouncing off the beds at 5am, I can guarantee it.

The Dotterel said...

Wise words, Steve, as ever. I shall take your advice... and raise a glass to my own long-departed grandparents too. As time passes, the memory does move back a few rows and can easily be overlooked. Thanks for reminding me to seek it out again. And happy Christmas!

Steve said...

The Dotterel: and a very happy Christmas to you and your family too!

Sarah said...

Awww, such a gorgeous, very touching post. Christmas really is a very nostalgic time. Have a wonderful time and enjoy those precious memories too.

Steve said...

Sarah: thank you - hope you enjoy the same too!

Suburbia said...

Beautiful, tears have come...

Such a lesson, which we always learn too late - to live for the moment and enjoy the now.

Best wishes at Christmas

x

libby said...

Yes...just yes.

Steve said...

Suburbia: the best thing about enjoying the now is that it's never too late to do it...

Libby: thank you.

Very Bored in Catalunya said...

OK, you have me sniffing now and rubbing away a stray tear you soft bugger.

I too shall cherish these times with my son and my young nephews and nieces whilst we are still blessed with their grandparents, in rude health and fine form.

Have a lovely Christmas. x

Steve said...

Very Bored in Catalunya: nice to know we're all sniffing together... now that's the true spirit of Christmas!

Being Me said...

How I ADORE your posts like this, Steve. Wandering up and down the timeline of your grandparents is something we often forget to do. I am so heart-warmed to read yours and yes, I too have blurry eyes from the tears I'm blinking away. My grandparents were in wartime London, newly met and newly wed not long after, and I stare at photos of them in that post-war time now and yearn so much to see them out of the black and white as well.

Beautiful post. The best I could've asked for to end the day on Christmas Eve. You've been one of my blogging highlights this year, I'm honoured you've stayed in touch reading mine too. Warm wishes to you and yours (hope all your mail got sorted in the end...) x

Steve said...

Being Me: thank you for all your kind words. It's been a pleasure to meet you this year and pleasure to have you become one of my regular readers. The greatest pleasure though as been viting your blog and being allowed access to your more private writings. It's been a great honour. Much love to you and your family this Christmas time. x

rb said...

Have a super Christmas, Steve.

Remember that the best thing we can do is make our own children's Christmasses special so that they can look back with affection on them like you do. And it's interesting to think that it wasn't the gifts that made those times special, was it? It was the people who were there and the time that was shared.

As for going back in time - yeah I have always said I'd go back to much the same time frame. Although sometimes I wonder if I might just go back to a more recent time and undo something I did. I'm not sure.

Have a great day xxx

Steve said...

rb: I think that's one of the most important lessons that we learn - that it's not things or money; it's the people. Hope you and your loved ones have a lovely Christmas and a very happy New Year. x

Gorilla Bananas said...

I'm a great cherisher myself. I cherish friends and relatives and fellow cherishers and even enemies when I'm in a good mood. Let us lift the art of cherishing to new heights in 2011!

Steve said...

Gorilla Bananas: now that sounds like a resolution worth cherishing...

English Rider said...

Your past family Christmases are not lost. They are the foundation on which to build strong new memories with the people who surround you now.Joy and love to you and yours.

Steve said...

English Rider: and a heartfelt wish for the same for you and yours... Merry Christmas.

dbs said...

Not silly at all. Not embarrassing at all. Just honest. I miss my grandparents and my youth with them too. Happy Christmas from Canada to you and yours.

the fly in the web said...

Lovely post...you write so well.

It's worth making the effort to make things good and special because the people you're caring about will always have those memories...and while people remember you you're still alive.

A Write Blog said...

I don't think I's want to go back to any time gone by. It is gone and only exists either in my memory if I was there or as an imagined perception that would undoubtedly be different if actually experienced.

I'd be, say, wandering around a 1940 Leeds and seeing 1940's people with their mindset appropriate for that time. I'd be seeing all that with my 21st century perceptions.

I suspect that I'd feel alien.

Best keep it in the mind I think.

Having said that..............I'd love to go further and see a Dinosaur.

Steve said...

dbs: thank you - hope you and your family have a lovely Christmas too!

The fly in the web: wise words, thank you. Have a wonderful Christmas!

AWB: nice to hear from you again - yes, a dinosaur would be a thing to see. It would be nice to see what colour they really were and whether any of them had fur!

Fran said...

Christmas is definitely a time for thinking back. I wouldn't mind being back in the days when we had little kids (despite all my cruel posts!) and were packing all their stockings around this time. There's the 28 year old turning up in a minute, though, and we've packed her stocking! So it still continues ....

Steve said...

Fran: yes, we've just done that - stockings under the tree and a mince pie and a carrot left out for Santa and Rudolf... can't beat it! Have a great day!

Owen said...

I'm sure your Grandparents are smiling right now, wherever they may be. (totally irrational thought, as I have no belief whatsoever in an afterlife, but could they know, they couldn't help but smile; and sniff)

It's been wonderful reading your pieces over the past year or so, yours is almost the only text oriented blog I read, being more of a picture kind of guy, but your shining honesty in all you portray for us is like a lighthouse... seen from afar, a light in the night.

Looking forward to 2011 and lots more fine writing from Leamington.

PS Hope we'll be hearing soon how things turned out when Miranda caught up with you !

eve said...

Blessed Christmas, Steve :-)

Steve said...

Owen: thank you for your very kind words. Your presence is always most welcome on this blog and I shall certainly be making regular visits to yours over 2011! As for Miranda... well, there seems to be a very large present in my stocking this morning...

Eve: and to you too, Eve. Have a joyous one.

Mark said...

Merry Christmas Steve.

I have times I yearn to return to; but also to look forward too.

Steve said...

Mark: Merry Christmas - always good to have the best of both worlds.

rummuser said...

That is an unusual for you and poignant post. I feel that I am getting to know you a bit more!

I never met my maternal grandparents but my paternal ones more than made up for the absence. I can relate to your emotions.

Happy Christmas to you and your family.

Steve said...

rummuser: and the best of the festive season to you and your family too - thank you!

The Sagittarian said...

Beautiful post, as always Steve. I hope you and yours have a great Christmas and New year - it's been an absolute joy coming to visit here. xx

Steve said...

Amanda: it's been a joy having you and a greater joy visiting you at yours - much love to you and yours for Christmas and the New Year! x

femminismo said...

I had one of those wonderful opportunities last evening (Christmas Eve) to spend time while surrounded by family and friends. I really enjoyed those moments of Christmas joy. And my parents and grandparents nurtured that appreciation in me for people - not just for the "things" they might give me. I hope your children grow up knowing how you have made so many times during the year special for them.

Steve said...

Femminismo: I hope so. It is only when you're older and look back that you realize how little the things meant and how much more the people. :-)

Val said...

A very lovely and touching post, Steve, and one which I have mentioned in a link in my current post. There is also something there that might appeal to you if you really would like to have a photo of your grandparents in colour. I'm happy to do that, if you like. Have a look.

As for what period in time I'd like to go back to... I'm pretty much like you and would like to revisit my grandparents and also my parents. It's so easy to look back and wish we'd cherished them more, but I'm sure my family knew I loved them, and I'm sure your grandparents did, too.

I hope you're having a good Christmas. Be well.

Steve said...

Val: thank you - hope you and your family are having a wonderful time too.

Nana Go-Go said...

If little posts like this can teach folks to appreciate what they have around them now, you`re doing a fantastic job, me old hearty. I hope my grandchildren will, in years to come, make me as proud as your lovely grandparents would have been of you for remembering them in such an admirable fashion. Good job well done, Steve - certainly brought a tear to my old bloodshot eyes!.

Steve said...

Nana Go-Go: bloodshot? What have you been drinking?! ;-)