24 Nov Your ghosts of Christmas past.
The Christmases of our past seem so much more romantic and special than the one looming before us at this time each year. Which is not surprising considering we have around 864 waking hours to prepare for a mere 16-hours of Ho! Ho! Ho! (Figures based on a Christmas prep start date of 1st November.) It is mostly in the looking back with elf dust in our eyes that we have time to feel the magic of Christmas, and what better subject to explore in an autobiography than our ghosts of Christmas past.
So it was for British fashion icon and dame of the mod and youth fashion movements, Mary Quant, fifty years after a last minute Christmas Eve dash around Harrods, when she penned the Christmas story that appeared in her 2012 book, Mary Quant, My Autobiography.
It was late on the Eve with no taxi in sight when a small boy called Jamie helped carry her shopping bags home. Jamie was a permanent resident of London’s most luxurious department store; he was busy growing up there. At night he slept on beds in the furniture department and during the day, when he wasn’t advising parents which toys to buy, he’d help other customers with their bags for tips. Jamie had escaped what one can only imagine being a very uncomfortable life for the warmth and glitz of Knightsbridge, fed with titbits from the food hall and coiffured in the beauty parlour.
Santa, get your gun.
Nothing can beat the Christmas memories of childhood though, and the excited anticipation of a pending visit from Santa. Remember the toys? The favourites come and go. Mr Potato Head and Barbie have given way to Fingerlings Interactive Baby Monkey and the BB-9E App-Enabled Droid with Droid Trainer. You knew that, right?
One boys’ toy seems not to have lost its appeal. As recently as 2014 Ammoland’s Tred published his take on the Best toy guns every child should get for Christmas. The CAR-15 Carbine M-16 toy rifle topped the list. He included an image of Santa holding a semi-automatic and reckoned granny would think it a jolly jape to have a toy grenade with sound effects lobbed at her over the Christmas turkey. Right-on, Tred.
In his autobiography, My Magic Life magician Paul Daniels recounted a story about the only Christmas he remembered from his childhood. He came downstairs on Christmas morning to discover a metal machine gun on a tripod. Forget the Carbine M-16; this gun was loud and realistic with sparks that flew from the barrel when triggered. The gun overwhelmed the four-year-old who had to have his fingers prised from the weapon that woke a terrified household.
Those nostalgic for the weapon-toys of Christmas’s past may take solace from knowing the vogue for interactive toys is unlikely to result in a raid by an armed response unit if spotted by a neighbour.
Your ghosts of Christmas past.
Christmas, or whatever seasonal or religious celebration ranks in your year will give you an arsenal of stories to write and Johnnybio, the biography composing website, is the place to do it. This is one of the seventy questions included in Johnnybio’s Child and Teenager chapter interview; select to add it to your story outline after creating your chapter titles.
Describe events around a Christmas you remember well or talk about the way you celebrated the holiday season in general. Even if you did not observe Christmas, did your family make any allowance for Christmas? What kind of weather was the backdrop to your Christmas?
Christmas is an annual parade of people, traditions, beliefs, music, food, and weather. It is truth and fakery. Happy, hurtful, shallow and deep by turns. Always the same yet always different.
So, when you write about your ghosts of Christmas past, start with your school years. What did you do to celebrate at school? Write about your performance in a Christmas play or concert. How old were you when you found out the truth about Santa Claus and how did it come about?
Think about where you spent your Christmases. Did you travel elsewhere? What were the family traditions; films, songs, church services, games, pantomimes? What happened on Christmas morning? Which was the best (or worst) present you ever received? What is your favourite Christmas song?
What did you eat and drink? Imagine yourself at a Christmas table, who are you sitting next to? Who cooked the meal then and who cooks it now?
What’s not to write about Christmas?
Now, write about a childhood Christmas or a Christmas later in your life. Perhaps an office party? Each chapter in the Johnnybio Life Story series contains everything you need to write your book, from creating chapters, adding a dedication, cover image, and title to publishing your story. A chapter costs less than a turkey dinner but a little more than the chicken dinner Paul Daniels remembered from his Christmases past.
Please share a Christmas story and say how you’d like to be attributed (anon., first name, initials etc.) and we’ll include it in the final blog of 2017. Send your 150-word maximum to moc.o1556008165ibynn1556008165hoj@o1556008165fni1556008165
Oh, and if you really want to see that post from Ammoland’s Tred click here.