Walking up Oxford Street with my grown-up granddaughter I could not help but harp back to times, when as a young child, my grandmother would take me to see ‘the lights’. Treading these self-same pavements, head thrown skyward to the Christmas illuminations that stretched as far as the eye could see. My hand safely in hers lest we lose each other amongst the crowds, there was the smell of hot chestnuts from the street vendors, carols from Salvation Army bands and lights from the department stores beckoned to busy shoppers, beaming out their subliminal ‘buy me’ messages in sparkling code.
But we were not so entrapped then by belief in Mammon and even choosing the gift of my first and only Teddy was a case for careful consideration, costing and the promise that I would love him forever. Maybe my vow was broken in perpetuity, although my affection remained long after he had lost his growl and I had outgrown the use for faux fur cuddles.
And it is not some vaseline-lensed, cuddly view of Christmas that I remember but times when necessity meant less is best, and when there was so much more of babe in the manger and Christ in the mass.