A Maybole Christmas Story
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The following story was contributed by Kenny Crawford.

Whenever I think of Christmas, I look back to my early childhood in the Maybole of the 1950's. I am nostalgic by nature, but this really was the best of times. Among the hundreds of memories I have of that time, there are two in particular that immediately come to mind.


First is the memory of standing for hours in the freezing cold staring at the display of toys in the Co-operative store window. From about the end of November, every night, right up until Christmas eve, I would run down to the Co-op, in Whitehall, and just stand there looking at all the toys. I don't remember a queue forming, so perhaps I was one of the few who carried out this sort of child window shopping at Christmas. The names of the toy manufacturers are names that anyone my age would recognise and relate to. Hornby, Britain, Corgi, Triang, Dinky, Chad Valley, all of these were revered in their own way. I was fortunate in that, although from a large family, my Mum and Dad saved very hard to provide us all with Christmas presents every year. After saying that, the 'wish list' I wrote to Santa and then sent up the lum [ chimney ] for his collection, was heavily censored by my parents. The first draft of my letter to Santa would have tasked the professionalism of the present day staff of ' Toys R Us' . I can still hear my Mum, '' Santa can't make all these toys in two weeks, remember, he's got the whole world to make toys for '. [ I'm thinking, ' there's an opening here for a good Production Manager' ]. Santa's wee helper could have sorted out himself, my greatly reduced, final, approved list. No matter, if I received my Fort, [ must have a ramp and drawbridge] and my box of toy soldiers on Christmas morning, I would praise Santa to the heavens, near to the point of blasphemy. The fact that my newly required 12 th. century Fort [ with a ramp and a drawbridge ] together with  it's new residents, soldiers of the 7th. regiment, Argyle and Sutherland Highlanders, Princess Louise Division, made no historical sense, never bothered me a bit. In fact I seem to remember one particularly nasty battle, appropriately, on Boxing day, where my new Christmas soldiers fought older stock. The attackers, made up of a combination of 8th. British Army desert troops, five cowboys, one with 50 % burns to his body [ older brother / matches ] six Sioux Indians, two headless. [ me ], three G.I.'s, and two heraldic knights, made a strong attack and very nearly took the Fort. It is at times like these that the very real necessity for a ramp and drawbridge to be installed with a Fort becomes all to clear. The unfairness of a knight, armed with only a battle-axe, rushing to attack a machine gun totting soldier was lost on me. Was I the only five year old boy who gave himself a running commentary whilst playing with his soldiers, ?....... probably.


The West ChurchMy second best childhood Christmas time memory is the West Parish Church Christmas tree. As a five-year-old, the first sight of this amazing attraction assured my acceptance of the Christian faith for life. Other churches may have golden adornments or renowned ceiling paintings, but none would have had a more glorious Christmas tree. Surely this sparkling wonder was created with the assistance of a spiritual being? It was God's tree! When our Primary One teacher informed the class that the entire school, teachers and pupils, were going to march down to the West Parish church to give praise to our deliverer at Christmas, I was under the impression we were all going there to pay homage to Santa. Sure enough, on the appointed day, every pupil, of every class, marched out of the school and down towards the Church. Incidentally, I noticed that on the way we lost one or two secondary school pupils who had decided this was an excursion exercise from Oflag VII, and took the opportunity to escape, by jumping into the cover of bushes on the way to the church. [ They would re-appear as we made our way back to school]. More fool them. I will never forget my first sight of the Christmas tree as we entered the church, The tree was awesome, huge and illuminated from top to toe in hundreds of brightly coloured lights, not the little fairy lights you see on trees nowadays but larger lamps, deeply coloured, white, blue, green, red and orange. The entire tree hung with glistening decorations and flows of silver strings. There it stood, shining, twinkling, in the darkened church, like a beacon to the faithful. With the back- drop of a lead glass window depicting Jesus, my wee five year old brain made a faulty connection, and computed the Triumvirate that is, God, Santa, and Jesus. A believer was born.

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