Through the reflection of my window on a fast moving train, I see in the distance dotted across the countryside bright and flickering lights, making a magical wonderland of an otherwise dark and damp Winter’s evening. As the lights come into focus they form shapes of houses all lit up for the Christmas festive season.

The child in me feels an excited flutter of remembrance as my mind returns to my own childhood Christmas past. It is the evocative Christmas smells that I recall most of all. The glorious fragrance of pine from a freshly cut Christmas tree, the evocative smells from the kitchen of Christmas puds boiling, mince pies and Christmas cakes baking and oh, on Christmas eve the delicious mouth watering aromas of a ham slow cooking and a turkey roasting. I can almost taste them now.

I recall too, the excitment on Christmas morning, when we awoke early to see what Santa had left during the night. Our long knee socks had been transformed into  holders of magical goodies, an orange, apple, penny bars and chocolate and oh at the end of the sock a potato, no doubt placed there to make our Christmas Stockings look even fuller.

Christmas PictureOur eyes sought out beneath our beds Santa’s present. A doll, a teddy, a nurses set, and once, oh my goodness a dolls pram awaited me, I almost died with excitement. I can feel the warmth of the blazing fire crackling when we got up, and our impatient reluctance as we stopped our play for a long… moment for my mother to light the Christmas Candle. I can feel too, the heat of the old rayburn, ready for us to toast our forked bread which we filled with prepared rashers and sausages.

No cooking has ever compared with that of my mother’s, her Christmas dinner was a feast to behold. You know? the kind of meal that you can almost cry over because it is so good you don’t want it to finish. I now of course realise, it was not that it was particularly a banquet feast, but to the eyes of a child it was such an incredible variety of food, so different from the simple everyday meals of the rest of the year.

I sense the train, begin to slow and I am transported back to my present reality by the recorded voiceover, announcing my stop. I alight onto the platform to the flickering lights of a scentless manufactured Christmas tree. I smile within, as I walk to my car, aware of the evening chill on my face, but yet still warm from the comforting memories of childhood Christmases past.

Through the noisy hum of the now busy streets, I commit this year to spend Christmas more simply, more fully aware that the time available to spend with loved ones is the greatest Christmas Gift of all…

Bernadette Phillips is Founder of NEW INSIGHTS FOR CHANGE and an Intuitive Coach, Social Scientist, Motivational Speaker, Conscious Educator, Social Entrepreneur, Poet and Writer, with over thirty years experience working with and in, Community, Business, Leadership and Education.

Website: /




  1. Stan Philips

    Lovely piece of writing. So evocative as it transports the reader to long gone, and half forgotten places that used to be.

  2. Jenny O'Brien

    Lovely writing that brings back so memories of a similar Irish Christmas

    • bernadette phillips Post author

      Awe! yes! thanks a million Jenny 🙂

  3. Stan Philips

    Wonderfully evocations of the days that made us who we are.