‘The Strangest of Christmases’- WINNERS


My mother excelled at doing Christmas stockings. She would find us each

a big woolly sock the night before, and mine lay expectantly at the end

of the bed until I sat up in the morning and pulled its lumpy shape

towards me. There were presents under the tree too, but for us children,

delving into our stockings for little treasures was the greatest fun of

the year.


Then one Christmas, out came not treasures, but an old train ticket,

discarded spectacles, things from a drawer here or a shelf there.


It will have been in the 1940s, living in the village where I am now;

friends from London welcome to stay for quieter safer nights from

bombing, shortages of everything, and our mother with too much to do.

She must have looked around close at hand, and found enough to fill the

strangest Christmas stocking ever.

Julia Hooper


Enceladus, Saturnalia’s Eventide, year 410/1351 After Deliverance

Dear Wittiza,

How odd to still use this defunct language! Are we, after the digital ‘cloud’ collapse, the only ones with access to manuscript records? Remember our conversation about those unsubstantiated rumours of a protein plague that forced the evacuation of Earth? I’ve found new evidence. The diary is badly damaged. Here are some patchy fragments. Can you make sense of them?

“(………) last Dec(…)ber’s Christm(…) tree. Sev(…) months since I brought it home; six since (………) expected to chuck (……….) branches (…)ttle uneven, some thin (………), but I shaped them; it was a (…)ice little (…)ee. Kep(…) me (…)mpany during (…)vid-19 (………) flat alone. (………) Norw(…) Fir. No way (………) fire or (…)mpost heap! (………) lost lustre (…)ut needl(…) still sharp! If no one’d do it to old me, why should I to my old tree?”

Remember: destroy after reading!






Surrounded by packing cases, sitting on the floor in a room with no furniture, I reassured my best friend who had phoned on Christmas day.

‘Don’t worry, I’m fine.’

I’d just moved into my first house – a Victorian terrace in Birmingham. Amongst the chaos, I noticed the wreath that I’d bought last minute and forgotten about.

After the call, I opened the door to hang the wreath. Outside, a few people were standing on their doorsteps, clutching various musical instruments. Glancing opposite, a silver-haired Elvis look-a-like held a guitar.

‘Hello,’ I called. ‘I’ve just moved in. Merry Christmas.’

‘And to you bab.’

‘What on earth’s going on?’

‘We do this every year,’ he said. ‘Just afore the Queen’s speech. Here….’

He handed me a tambourine then struck a loud chord. In unity and harmony, the entire street burst into ‘Rockin’ Around The Christmas Tree’ with me wide-eyed, shaking that tambourine.

Gill Powell



When I was three years old Santa went away.

I would always remember the creak of his boots, and the sweet smell of cinnamon buns tinged with bourbon.

I’d pretended to be asleep, but my eyes flicked open and I saw him.

Instead of being cross he just smiled.

And at that magical moment I knew my dad was Santa.

A special dad who every Christmas brought joy to children all over the world.

By morning Dad had gone, leaving behind our secret, and a well of tears that would never run dry.

To have him all to myself would have been selfish.

Or to get bigger and better presents than the other children, unfair.

Even when I asked for a bike and got a scooter, and other children got bikes, I understood.

So, every year I opened my presents, smiled at Mum, and told her not cry.

Stephanie Pemberton



Rudolph mugged grannie Christmas eve
Aiming for her carrots I believe
Never any doubt,
He didn’t want a sprout
Dreadful injuries were received

Oh Rudolph mugged grannie Christmas eve
Now in Santa Claus we do not believe
That  fat old man was drunk
And Rudolph did a bunk
Stuck antlers and goodwill up his sleeve

Yes Rudolph mugged grannie Christmas Eve
A reindeer fuelled with sherry can achieve
Nose  shining so bright
Could be used as light
And a sled that don’t fly straight, but does a weave

Oh Rudolph mugged grannie Christmas eve
We thought that she would never leave
He left her there quite dead
With a hoof print on her head
We guzzle plum pudding as we grieve


Rudolph mugged grannie Christmas Eve

Problem with presents she’ll receive
Answer we don’t lack, keep ‘em‘not send ‘em back

As we are not stupid or naive.

Glenys Halliday 


  • peter wakeling
    23rd December 2020 at 12:03 pm

    Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year and thank you for your hard work keeping us OAPs amused

  • Christine Dunford
    23rd December 2020 at 12:07 pm

    Stephanie Pemberton’s moving story had me in tears! Well done everyone.

  • Terry Young
    23rd December 2020 at 12:29 pm

    Thanks you so much for all that you have done for us oldies – it is so much appreciated. Like Christine I am sitting with tears in my eyes after reading Stephanie’s story – I am sure there will be many others in a similar situation this year. Have a Happy Christmas and see you next year! xx

  • Marion Edwards
    23rd December 2020 at 1:12 pm

    Thank you so much for the entertaining and informative talks you’ve brought us this year. A happy Christmas and better New Year.

  • Anne Winstone
    23rd December 2020 at 2:03 pm

    Thank you Mirthy and Mirthy followers for bite sized uplift and cheer over the past months. Roll on 2021

  • Joy Jordan
    23rd December 2020 at 2:32 pm

    Thank you for your efforts to engage, entertain and educate us. Thank goodness for zoom and the internet during this disastrous year!
    Happy Christmas to all.

  • Annette Mann
    23rd December 2020 at 3:14 pm

    Thank you for all your interesting, informative and entertaining talks

  • Barbara
    23rd December 2020 at 3:42 pm

    Julia’s stocking contents was so well reminisced. My sister and my stockings were Dad’s old army socks, grey and bristly. Always with a lump of coke in the toe, then walnuts and almonds so impenetrable that we had to put them back in the nut dish. A satsuma , a Cox’s Orange Pippin apple, so we’d give those back to mum. Penny chews and Blackjacks, Lovehearts, I suppose that these were on ration, but that didn’t concern us. It was Father Christmas being generous to we good children. Those hairy socks did double duty when we had earache. Mum heated salt until hot, then stuffed the toe with a good crunchiness of it, tied the open top , then we lay in bed with the sock balanced on our cheek as it turned bright red, until our pain was soothed. Strangely enough, this often occurred on Christmas evening, probably due to chewing an excess of sweets !

  • Kathleen Edgley
    24th December 2020 at 8:15 am

    What wonderful stories of Christmas past and we were so lucky to experience those long ago days of lumpy stockings full of little goodies and a polished penny right at the bottom of the sock, plus a rare tangerine all to yourself!!

  • sylvia butler
    24th December 2020 at 10:51 am

    Thank you for months of entertainment. The talks have helped pass the lonely covid months .Hope 2021 will be better for everyone.

  • Susan Cork
    26th December 2020 at 1:58 pm

    Wow huge thanks for such entertainment and humour. Keep up the good work. Have the best Christmas possible 🙏

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