For many, it’s hard to imagine Christmas day as anything other than a pleasant day of enjoying time with family, exchanging gifts, and tucking into the best roast dinner of the year.
Christmas is a time of memories and for many people throughout the decades, the celebrations have continued throughout some especially unique and life-threatening circumstances. Shared in the December 1948 issue of the Zodiac Magazine – the publication for staff of Cable and Wireless throughout the 20thcentury – “I remember this Christmas…” is a segment where staff of Cable and Wireless shared their most memorable Christmas day.
From hiding with a French family in a Nazi occupied Paris, explaining the existence of chimneys to the locals of Ascension Island and Christmas puddings in bowler hats!?
Nazi’s, Mice and no Liqueurs
By Mrs V.M
“My first Christmas under Nazi occupation will long be remembered. My family had all been interned on December 5 – father, mother, husband, and seven years old son.
When some French friends invited me to spend the day in their home in the country, at a great risk to themselves. The walls in Paris were plastered with notices warning people that they would be instantly shot if they were found harbouring a Britisher – I was really delighted.
It was going to be such a change from the office where, in order to avoid arrest, I had lived and slept (with the mice) since July. “This French family did all in their power to make me
comfortable in spite of the lack of heating, food and usual French wines.
They had hoarded some coffee for the occasion, and they apologised for being unable to produce the glass of liqueur usually served with this beverage but, they said, Grandmother had been given some wonderful medicine for her cold and it tasted very much like Chartreuse so perhaps I would like to take some: it would surely warm me up. So, small glasses were put-on the table and before bedtime the bottle was empty.
My one regret is that I cannot remember the name of the medicine…”
I was Ascension’s Santa Claus
By J. E. McGeorge
“Trying to play an 18-stone Santa Claus with a nine-stone body only eight degrees off the equator, is certainly no sinecure. I did it in Ascension Island and it proved an exhausting business. Every child in the island knew the Mess well enough to declare with certainty that no such thing as a chimney existed. A local legend had therefore to be invented. Santa must land up by the Dew Pond (the island’s highest point) where he watered his reindeer in the cool of the surrounding bamboos. By pre-arrangement, he could spare an hour while his reindeer rested and the staff, every man-jack in fancy dress, would go up on their motorcycles to collect him. In fact, we started from the club, Santa with his sack in a sidecar and his gaily clad outriders deployed around him. Baffle plates had been removed; all bikes engaged their lowest gears.
The roar as we moved off was incredible and no announcement was necessary to interrupt the party. The children poured out on-to the veranda and round the corner of the screened courts we came. The Mess President stepped forward to greet the distinguished visitor much business with my Mess-pillow stomach – and how the kids cheered! Then came the distribution of presents from the tree, those for the children being interspersed with “rag” ones for specially selected adults.”
Pudding Service by Bowler
By C. T. Collinson
“My mother’s Christmas puddings were well-known locally, and knowing my liking for them, she decided to send me one to – Mossamedes. But how? that was the problem.
Fortunately, back at home, I had kept a bowler hat as a trophy of my year in the London Training School. It was originally a gift from my uncle who, having passed through this test of telegraphic skiII and bowler hat-bashing many years previously, had ensured that it was rubber lined to withstand any punishment.
So, well-padded with straw and paper, my mother dispatched the pudding in the hat in July and to my joy, it arrived just before Christmas.
My elation was not quite so great when we found it necessary to spend two hours extracting minute particles of basin from the pudding with the aid of forceps. However, on Christmas Day it was enjoyed by all. The old bowler hat was still in good shape after its long journey
And proved useful as a sort of crash helmet when diving into the sea or surfacing among the flotsam and jetsam.”
Digital Marketing Apprentice, PK Porthcurno
Header image: Collection of Zodiac Magazines
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