Blogmas 14; What is my favourite childhood Christmas memory?

I don't know... I remember so many moments from childhood Christmasses. I seem to remember that it was a frosty Christmas Eve on the way to Midnight Mass when I first realised that the street lights made my red coats look strange, that I loved the feel of sheepskin mittens inside and out when Santa let me open them early for Midnight Mass and the cold plaster of the Baby Jesus figure for the church crib as I carried it out to the scene.

My childhood church is St Bartholomew's, Rainhill. It's not famous for much, except at Christmas when it puts up an almost life size crib scene; not on the grass or floor anywhere sensible; oh no. Their crib scene is suspended in the entrance gate to the churchyard. It takes a team of dedicated crib erectors to put it up. They have the skills down to a fine art. After all, the eldest member is 75 and has been putting the scene up for 50 years. That's him in the hat.

He came over from Ireland 50+ years ago and started helping in the church. For years he was the leader and the coordinator of the crib erection, until he decided it was time to take a less active role. Now he wanders around futfutting under his breath and Jaysusing if the others don't listen or grasp what he sees as immediately obvious. And when he's finished, at lunchtime on a cold December Saturday, he sits and sleeps the afternoon. (this is my Dad)

This is the team that put the crib up this year. From left to right we have;
My nephew M. He's studying forensic computers at Liverpool John Moore's University. He looks after my lads in family situations, by which I now mean they all get on the playstation or PC and grunt at each other occasionally.
My adopted nephew C. He is or is not at University now. I adopted him one day when his best friend, nephew M, said something mean to me and I told C he was my favourite nephew. He's a really nice lad (well, he came putting the crib up just for fun!)
My Dad. He used to have black hair. Thick black hair. That was when he first put the crib up. Now all that is left of the young Irish lad is the accent which acquires a degree of incomprehensibility when he gets together with his brother and sisters over the water.
Eldest brother A. A doctor in the North of Liverpool. Best childhood memory of him is that he had ants in his pants and couldn't sit still. He used to prowl in front of the telly all the time. I've missed many a good TV moment because he was on the prowl.
Second brother C. Another doctor in the North of Liverpool. And another childhood memory. THIS is the brother who played Jeff Wayne's War of the Worlds at 6am on a Christmas morning FULL VOLUME. It's good, but at the right time.

And this is the crib. I think it is one of my favourite Childhood Christmas memories mostly because it is a constant. It marks Christmas every year; it marks a family working together across the generations and using their time to evangelise in a really soft way (by which I mean quietly, without being loud or in your face or assuming that because They are a Christian, You must be a complete Sinner) and to show God's love for the world in a way that makes people smile. I must see if Jesus is there at the moment. I know they put him in for the photos, but usually they leave out the baby until Christmas Eve when, after or before the evening mass, they choose a child to climb up a ladder and put the baby in. I got to do it once or twice, I'm not certain exactly how many times. It was a great feeling of responsibility. a real experience of life as a Herald Angel; I remember thinking "this is a special child and I am the person chosen to show him to the world." 
If you live near Rainhill (and why should anyone?) and you pass along the A57, be sure to look out for the church and the arch. It's just off Junction 7 heading towards Prescot. There is nothing else there, apart from a Premier Inn that does rather reasonable food and a few plaques remembering the Rainhill Trials of 1829. It's just a quiet, small village that links up with other small villages and towns to make Merseyside.

This is the video my brother took this year; it show you the steps that go into putting up the crib. It takes longer than this, about 2 hours in total, and afterwards they all go to Ma's house for soup and sandwiches. Tradition.

Joining in with Blogmas at Diary of a Stay at Home Mum; for the other people's pages, go visit her site!


  1. What a great memory and I love that it is such a constant from childhood to adulthood not to mention a family connection!

    1. Thank you. It sums up Christmas, really; past, present and family altogether with great hope for the future. The crib scenery got painted this year and me Dad and Ma paid for the paint. I spoke to Mum about it and she said, "Well, we wanted to pay for the paint this time because we probably won't be here the next time it needs repainting (20+years) so someone else will have to pay." And I thought, "Gosh, I'll remember that and offer some dosh then!"

  2. What a wonderful post. Loved it. Loved how you introduced your Dad! And then your other family members and love how you described the crib being a constant for you. Wonderful.

    1. My family are a constant in my life. Whether we are talking or arguing or meeting every week or not meeting for six months they are my family and I love them. Even the ones I don't talk to. And the crib ties in with the family, because since I was small we have had a large input in the erection of the crib so the two go together. Thank you for enjoying it so much.

  3. What a wonderful Christmas memory to have, something which is a constant in childhood and as an adult. I think it makes it rather special that it's something which lots of your family are connected with too so it will be a special memory for them too.

    1. Thank you. I think there is a big part of Christmas that demands we bring things from our childhood into our adulthood, things tangible and intangible. If we're lucky these are good things but I know for some people these will be the darker side of alcohol, families stuck together for days at a time and debt or money problems. I thank God that my memories are good ones and wish everybody could be so lucky.

  4. What a beautiful memory and it looks like those lads did a great job putting it up. I love that this is such a special memory for you - as this is what the season is truly all about. ;)

  5. Wow that is cool! It would be neat to see it in person. Thanks for sharing.

  6. Really beautiful and I can see why it is such a special memory. Just fantastic! I would love to see it for myself one day.


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