Is this how you remember greeting the advent of Christmas in Hartlepool over the decades?
1: Santa on top of the bus. Despite the fact that he looked a bit “handmade”, he helped spread a little festive cheer around town.
2: Queuing to see Father Christmas in his grotto at Binns (or the Central Stores?) It was always a magical moment when you visited Santa Claus in his sparkling grotto. We’re sure the Binns grotto used to be in the basement, before being moved to the top floor.
3: The Christmas church bazaar, with a visit and present from Santa. Remember with fondness buying talc and smellies for mam at these bustling annual events.
4: School Christmas party and bran tub gift. Always generated great excitement among little ones.
5: Carol-singers going door-to-door. You don’t seem to get carol singers these days. They seem to have gone the way of the penny for the guy kids.
6: The Christmas tree at Wesley chapel. This was when Christmas seemed to be just a whisker away. The tree, which, we’re sure we’re right in thinking came from Norway as a “thank you” for helping that country during the Second World War, was placed in the front of the chapel, and was a wonderful way to announce the coming of the festive season.
7: The school nativity play – with striped tea towels, white dresses and wire and tinsel halos, plus a “‘baby” (doll) in a manger, of course.
8: Roast chestnuts being cooked at the edge of the road (oil-drum style) and sold in paper bags in Lynn Street or Whitby Street; plus holly and mistletoe sellers.
9: Making paper chains from strips of coloured paper at home and at school. No shop-bought decorations in days gone by.
10: Advent calendars (without chocolate). We used them year after year.
11: Decorating an orange for the Christingle service.
12: Midnight mass (before the services were disrupted by rowdy drinkers).
13: Socks (not stockings) with hazelnuts, an orange and half a crown. Did anybody ever eat the nuts?