Winter’s Came, The Snaw has Fell

Winter’s came, the snaw has fell, Wee Josie’s nose is froze as well,

Wee Josie’s nose is froze is skintit,Winter’s diabolic, in’t it!

Bud Neill
Bud Neill (1911 -1970)

No snow as yet, but it has been cold.  Like the winters I remember from childhood.  Milk curdling on the pipes at school, knees blue with cold as I refused to wear the scratchy black wool stockings which attached to rubber buttons on my liberty bodice.  My mother attempted to negotiate with the scary Infant Mistress to let me wear knee socks but there was to be no compromise.  The stockings or ankle socks.  So ankle socks it was.

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I used to love making slides on the pavement and in the playground, the skidding over and over making the slide longer, then the thrill of launching yourself onto the shiny black ice, often coming to grief with skinned knees and elbows. I don’t suppose that’s allowed nowadays, even if it was cold enough.

With no central heating, our windows were covered in frost flowers, fascinatingly intricate. Putting feet out of bed onto what my friend called the ‘coleloneum’ was a shock, then the run through to the fiery kitchen range, the best place to get dressed. Breakfast was porridge, then a spoonful of viscous cod liver oil, followed by a larger and welcome spoonful of Virol, sticky, sweet and malty.

At choir practice last week I found myself feeling emotional as we sang Away in a Manger, remembering my wee sister singing ‘the stars in the bridesmaid sky’ (she loved weddings!) and remembering the thrill of the lead up to Christmas. Next week we’re going to our grandson’s first nativity play (multicultural – he says he’s a monkey and singing Feliz Navidad ) I suspect I’ll be choking back the tears.

Like my mother, I love decorating for Christmas, especially with fairy lights. I still have one of her sets, in working order. I have an abiding memory of her up a step ladder, pliers and insulating tape in hand, joining ancient sets of lights together to string round the picture rail. There was nearly always a section not working. Every year I look wistfully at full size garden reindeer and illuminated trees till common sense prevails. But I usually buy at least one new set of lights…..The advent calendar, made about fifteen years ago, is up, filled with sweeties, with a set of starry lights.

Our Advent Calendar

On Friday we’ll go to Blairadam Forest and choose our tree, then it really will feel like Christmas. I hope I never lose that thrill of anticipation, listening for sleigh bells.