I am lucky, as the first born in my family, I am the one with most recorded about her, lots of baby photos. Not only photos but my Mum kept a journal as well. She made entries about me in an exercise book over the first year of my life, the entries stopped as my brother’s arrival approached. I am sorry about the writings ceasing and happy it was my brother who was responsible for the change.
One of my sisters discovered the journal a few weeks ago when we were rummaging through things in my parent’s home and discovering artifacts from our childhoods. The book is a piece of treasure.
I wonder if you penetrate some of the mystery of a person by recalling her as a child? This is what my mother wrote on 26th December a long time ago, it was my first Christmas, I was eight months old;
“A few days ago Anne started to crawl, very gingerly at first. On the 24th she started to crawl just like [my cousin] dragging a leg behind her, she can say ta-ta and waves her hand. As soon as somebody starts singing “clap hands” she lifts her two fat hands with fingers spread out like a star fish and claps her hands.
Christmas day Baah [they called me Baah?] got into bed with us and we gave her all her presents a big yellow teddy bear, a Panda, a beach ball from [Dad’s friend], a bucket and a spade, a little rubber rocking horse. She was squealing with delight and didn’t know what to look at first. We took her to church but had to take her out half way through mass because she was too noisy, calling out and laughing.
Then she went to sleep and because we were waiting for her to wake up to go down to [my Aunt and Uncle] she didn’t wake until 12:30. In the afternoon she was crawling on the floor and quite plainly said “Mum”.
We finally got home at 9:30pm with Baah sound asleep all the way home.”
I still have the big yellow bear and the laugh that is too noisy. The bear doesn’t look so big now, he’s a standard sized teddy. My laugh, I am delighted to know, is one of the most recognisable things about me.
I can glimpse the me of today in the me of Christmas past, I haven’t changed very much and I can still quite plainly say “Mum”.
Thanks Mum for writing down my first Christmas and for the Christmases we’ve shared since then, including yesterday. We’ve been a funny sort of family and I think it is OK to romanticise our memories and think only of us at our best. You’ve given me with a treasure trove of Christmas times to remember.
*Mum’s part is in italics she wrote it years ago.