Christmas is full of nostalgia and we have all memories of our favourite Christmas. We chat to Bernadette Fallon who shares her favourite Christmas memory.
“My favourite Christmas memory is – to reduce it down – every Christmas ever! My earliest Christmas memories are all very simple ones (and one very definitely proves I’m quite simple myself).
From spending hours gazing longingly at bottles of Fanta and Coke hidden under my parents’ bed for Christmas, to the magic of getting up on Christmas morning to find, not just Santa’s presents, but the crumbs left behind on the plate of biscuits we had left out for him. And the half-drunk Coke in his glass. All the proof we needed he was real.
Being practical people, my parents didn’t old much truck with sleighs and reindeer – how was that going to work in the west of Ireland? And so, Santa travelled by helicopter and we left a key in the front door so he could let himself in. fact, one year on Christmas morning, tucked up in my parents’ bed eating sweets, I heard the sound of his helicopter flying off, which totally convinced me for many, many years he was real. (How my parents rustled up a helicopter to fly over Sligo in the early 1970’s, I’ll never know!)
Of course, there was also the year Santa nearly blew his cover. Standing looking out of the window one Christmas Eve, I saw my father carrying a large orange object across the driveway and into the shed. ‘What’s that?’ I shouted, and my mother told me it was the back boiler for our kitchen Aga.
Waking up in a sweat of excitement later that night, wondering if Santa had been yet, I could see the back boiler at the bottom of my bed where all the presents were piled up and wondered what it was doing there. In the light of morning, I could see it wasn’t the back boiler at all – but my brother’s gift from Santa, an orange wheelbarrow. ‘Silly me, I thought it was the back boiler,’ I said laughing to my mother and she roared laughing back.
The magic of Christmas has always stayed with me and I still spend the countdown from September in an ecstasy of excitement. Once I became a journalist, things got even better – now my Christmas starts in July with the press shows where brands show off all their festive goodies.
And so I find myself humming along to Jingle Bells, standing ankle deep in ‘snow’ and munching through a selection of glazed hams and mince pies as the temperature hits 30 degrees outside. I work out timings for the turkey and dream up new ideas for Christmas decorations, sitting on a deckchair in my garden, writing my Christmas features. I’ve written about Christmas for everyone from The Times to The Christmas Magazine, and once got to meet Santa Claus himself.
I’m totally clued in about all things Christmas, can tell you in an instant who’s doing the best Advent calendar this year, when the German Christkindlmarkts start and where you should go for your gluten-free Christmas pudding. But it took me over 30 years to work out that the ‘back boiler’ I’d seen that Christmas Eve in my father’s hands was in fact my brother’s wheelbarrow. Because sometimes the magic of Christmas just wins out.”
A huge thank-you to Bernadette Fallon for sharing this amazing story with us!