I’ll always remember the Christmas that I received an elephant.
A pink one.
Of course it wasn’t a real elephant, they are not pink in colour. And a real elephant would have been high maintenance to say the least. Where would I have kept him? He would have been too big for the lounge. I wouldn’t recommend the garden either; he would have eaten all my dad’s plants and probably charged his way through the garden fence, into the neighbour’s vegetable patch. Not ideal.
No, a real elephant would not have been appropriate.
My elephant was pink and furry. He was not nearly as big as a real elephant, but to my five year old self, he was pretty large.
And the funny thing was, I imagined him before I even knew he existed. Because my mother asked me what I would like from Father Christmas and I remember thinking about it, imagining a pink elephant, therefore replying, “A pink elephant.”
Apparently my mother was aghast. She’d already bought me one, hidden it in the loft, and knew there was no way I could have spotted it. Also, it was not as if pink elephants were the latest craze or I’d seen one in a toy shop window and exclaimed how much I wanted him.
Anyhow, I remember that Christmas clearly and fondly. I remember waking up extremely early, peering at the end of my bed, and the excitement I felt when I saw the stripy pillowcases, with presents poking out.
And a pink, furry, elephant.
I practically ran to my brother’s bedroom screaming, “He’s been!” Next I jumped up and down on my parent’s bed, still screaming, “He’s been!”
My parents managed to calm me down, then my brother and I took it in turns to open our presents, perched on my parent’s bed.
As was the tradition in those days, we went to a neighbour’s house for drinks and nibbles, after present opening and before the Christmas dinner. That year I proudly brought my pink elephant.
Everyone commented on my furry friend, and I spent most of the time sitting on him or pretending to feed him a mince pie.
“What’s his name?” one neighbour enquired.
“Elephant.” I replied.
I insisted Elephant sat next to me during our Christmas dinner. We pulled crackers and told bad jokes, and my brother and I ate so much Christmas pudding that we both said we felt sick. In a nice way. In a happy, content, I love Christmas kind of way. To be honest I probably didn’t even feel sick. Whatever my brother said I tended to agree with. He was my big brother and I looked up to him.
We always used to watch the Queens speech in the lounge. I would pretend to be more interested in it than I really was, all those new toys were just so distracting.
Then we would all pile in the car with the presents for my nan, grandad, aunts, uncles and cousins. Elephant had to come with us that year, it was rather a tight squeeze.
At my nan and grandad's house we would be greeted at the front door by my nan, still wearing her paper hat from her Christmas cracker. Grandad would be sitting on the brown sofa and all my other relations would be in the lounge, eagerly awaiting the grand present opening.
Underneath the glistening Christmas tree there would be mounds of brightly wrapped presents. My mother always commented on how lucky we were, and we should remember people who weren’t as fortunate as us.
Then we would take it in turns to open our presents. I would sit next to my cousin Sarah, and as near the tree as we possibly could. Elephant also sat next to me that year, so he could share my toys. We were becoming firm friends, you don’t share your toys with just anyone.
It would literally take us hours to open our presents. We would. “Ooh,” and “Arr,” and “Thank you!” our way through until tea time.
Despite a huge Christmas dinner, with lashings of pudding, I would be hungry again for cold meats, sausage rolls, my auntie Helen’s chocolate cake and my nan’s trifle.
Then we’d play charades until I could barely keep my eyes open and I had to go home to bed.
I loved my childhood Christmas’s.
I still love Christmas.
I cherish the special memories dedicated to my dear brother - who made sure I still believed in Father Christmas even when he knew the truth - my little nan, and my granddad.
And not forgetting Elephant.