Everybody loves a little nostalgia every so often, so what better time than to reminisce about Christmas time as a kid during the 90’s. Yes the 90’s. A time of Take That, Penguin Bars and glow-in-the-dark Ghostbuster pyjamas.
I am a father to a daughter and I must say I have started to feel the excitement toward the festive season once more. Not since I received a Turtle Blimp in ’93 have I felt so positive about Christmas.
Let’s rewind to the 90’s, inside my working-class household.
The build up to the big day was a casual affair. We never ventured out to cut a fresh Christmas tree – instead, we had a damp, heartless, fake one which lived in a place where children were never allowed to go – the loft. A dark, dingy place which was only opened twice per year.
Decoration Day was so exciting. Our whole lives would stop. My parents insisted on keeping to the Never-Putting-The-Decorations-Up-Earlier-Than-Two-Weeks-Before-Christmas-Day routine. Ahhh, the smell of damp boxes and 17-year-old tinsel was bliss. A true Christmas sense.
Dad would use the classic gold pins to place the decorations on the ceiling. Mum would annoy him by telling him they looked skewwhiff. Mum took on the role to project manage the tree. Tinsel, baubles and of course chocolates! I would mischievously pinch a cheeky chocolate when Mum and Dad were in the dining room squabbling over whether there was a need for a table decoration.
Tinsel galore. Lots of sparkles and colours. Our house resembled an Indian curry house with a bulky television.
To continue the magical build-up, it was now time to visit the great fella himself. Namely Father Christmas. We would be taken to some far-flung destination ― namely our local shopping centre to visit the bearded bloke. I don’t remember too much of these encounters. Probably scientific proof that meeting a strange man with a white beard is a truly frightening experience. What I do remember were the pathetic gifts you used to receive from the elf once the visit was over. I didn’t even ask for marbles.
Christmas Eve Antics
Christmas eve approached incredibly swiftly; excitement builds dramatically on this day. I can’t recall too many times during my life where I have felt true excitement. Probably a realisation to myself that I lead an incredibly dull life, then.
Mum would put out some Christmas Eve nibbles – usually some Quality Streets, some cheese footballs, cheeselets, dry-roasted peanuts and some more cheese footballs.
Dedicated sacks for presents were put out for all four of us siblings. Big brother must’ve known that Father Christmas was as real as wrestling. Smug. Names on sacks and an allocated area for each sibling was granted. Mine was always nearest the tree (morning chocolate).
Bed time was imminent – semi-skimmed milk, a mince pie from Kwik-Save and a carrot were left out for Santa as reward for giving us presents. Classic Father Christmas cuisine. He knew where he stood with our family. No mucking about with gluten-free sandwiches or protein shakes.
Sweat built and a peculiar realisation sunk in that a person dressed in a suit would enter our house via a chimney we didn’t have. Footsteps were heard. That sounded like dad falling up the stairs. Need to hide under my Attack of the Killer Tomatoes duvet cover.
I remember needing a piss during the night, but being too afraid to venture on to the landing and in to the bathroom. Terrifying. What if he saw me? Big brother was probably fast asleep looking forward to opening his requested Hi-Tec jumper.
Christmas morning finally arrived. You awaken from a semi-deep sleep and realise it is the day you have been waiting for. You know it is Christmas morning because it is 4:09am. You wander in to the parent’s bedroom; they are fast asleep dreaming about cooking the turkey and washing sprouts.
I remember wandering downstairs on my own to see whether he “had been”. Sounds like I was looking for him to have done a poo somewhere in the house. Unsurprisingly, he “had been”. Off I ran up the stairs to inform the parents. “He’s been”, I would announce. No positive response from them, other than, “What time is it”?
C’mon parents, get in to the spirit of Christmas ― doesn’t a turkey need basting you lazy b******s.
I didn’t say that.
Siblings would also be awake and off we all went down the stairs. I ran of course, and skidded over the living room carpet in complete joy. What a life!
You asked your parents for permission to begin the process of opening the sack-full of presents. You knew which one was the ‘main’ one. It was obvious. You begun by opening the boring ones. The socks; the felt tips and a dairy milk selection box. Slowly you worked your way up in order of amazingness (is that a word?). Next up was the inevitable calendar ― usually a WWF Wrestling one. Out came the middle-of-the-road ones such as the Golden Axe video-game for the Mega-drive. A good, solid present.
Next up was Rocksteady and Beepop figurines from the Teenage Mutant Hero Turtles. Another decent, well respected present. Thanks parents. Respect.
Now for the main event. Here it comes. It’s big, it is wrapped impeccably well. You have waited many weeks for this moment. And it is finally here. THE MEGAZORD. Yes, the Megazord is now firmly in your hands. You saw them inside their boxes in Gamleys, in Toystack and in Woolworths for many months preceding this very moment. And now it is in your living room. In case you were wondering, the toy in question was from Power Rangers. All the Rangers would morph and become one giant beast to defeat evil. So happy.
Dad would suddenly blare out all the Christmas tunes from the state-of-the-art cassette player ― probably Shaking Stevens. “Snow is falling…All Around me...Children singing…Having fun”.
And Christmas had begun!