This is a story from 55 years ago – the 25th December 1959, Christmas Day, when I was 12 years of age (I’m 67 now – for those of you who arithmetically challenged!)
We weren’t what would be called a “comfortably-off” family in those days. Financially, it was sometimes a bit of a struggle
And for that particular Christmas, I wasn’t holding out much hope for anything particularly lavish
OK – to our story. It must have been about five in the morning when I got up in the freezing cold. And, boy, was it cold! We didn’t have central heating in those days – and fires were only set in the bedroom when one was sick and confined to bed.
There was a coal fire in the sitting room, but, being the early hour it was, last night’s cold ashes hadn’t yet been raked up, nor the day’s new fire assembled and lit.
In the dark, I crept downstairs and into the sitting-room. By the fireplace was a selection of gifts.
I have to say that it was with little enthusiasm that the wrapping paper was removed from each present. A book, a selection box, some chocolate coins in gold foil, a pair of school socks (wow!). And that seemed to be it.
Oh, apart from a very small package which I left until last, considering it unworthy of my attention. It would be, no doubt, nothing very exciting.
By this time, my Mother and Father had appeared from upstairs “Aren’t you going to open it?” Dad said, his breath visible in the chill air as he spoke.
“I suppose so”, I replied… churlishly. And the smallest, most insignificant-looking package was opened to reveal a wondrous miracle. Inside a gold cardboard flip top box, was a pale green coloured Pye transistor radio.
Oh, the surprise! Oh, the delight! Oh, the wonder of tuning in during those early hours of the morning to Radios Luxembourg, Athlone, Hilversum and a host of other exotic places.
What wonder! To be able to hear over the still night airwaves songs of joy, carols of exultation, music of the angels played by far-off folk in strange-sounding places.
The cold was forgotten, the gloom was dispersed, and there was laughter – joyful laughter on that beautiful morning.
And to think that I had ignored what at first glance had seemed to be the most insignificant, the smallest and the least important gift on that Christmas morn
….but what would prove to be one of the most cherished, loved and valued possessions ever bestowed upon me
….given by the father who loved me and who had obviously sacrificed so much to bring such light and joy into my life that day.