Once Upon A Christmas

Christmas 1996, Toyah contributed a thoughtful recollection of childhood Christmasses to the charity publication 'Once Upon A Christmas'. This book is now out of print.

In this delightful Christmas book, a host of our most popular and well-known celebrities from all walks of life have contributed stories, memories, recipes and thoughts about Christmas to make this the most irresistible festive anthology there is... Once Upon A Christmas will help to put - and keep - you in the Christmas spirit.

Toyah Willcox: Broadcaster and Singer

Childhood Christmasses were the most magical.

It was the appearance of the Christmas tree that cued two weeks of sheer all-encompassing joy. I'm talking about being four years old. Just able to talk but unable to comprehend the hidden meanings of the words of wisdom from the giants, the adults.

My family home, although modest, was a castle to me and everything in it was rare and precious. But the Christmas tree was proof that Narnia, fairies, hobgoblins and fauns truly did exist. For the tree miraculously appeared overnight and it shed such light and a divine perfume. Being small, I could sit under it all evening with the glass baubles dangling in my face.

Christmas was a time that my brother was nice to me. Fighting was not on the agenda, only receiving.

Oh, it was perfect. I was too young to do any washing-up, too small to hoover, too innocent to be blamed when icing was picked off the uncut Christmas cake. In later years my teeth marks gave me away and punishment followed.

In retrospect my parents were miracle-workers. I totally believed in the existence of Father Christmas until an embarrassingly late age. But back then, at two in the morning, my brother would wake me to say Father Christmas had been because there were stockings on our beds, and we'd snuggle up under the blankets with torches, sworn enemies calling a truce on Christmas Day and eat all the chocolate in our heavily laden stockings. I'd boast that I'd heard Father Christmas on the stairs and he'd pooh-pooh the very thought, being five years older than me.

In the morning Mum and Dad would play Hard to Wake Up. We'd take them tea and biscuits in bed, made by my sister Nicola because she was eight years older and could reach the kettle. Then they'd slowly amble downstairs to the door of the lounge which had been locked by Father Christmas and wouldn't be unlocked until he knew we'd been good children. This drove me into a frenzy, because I didn't fully understand the concept of good and if this man could come all the way from Lapland and deliver our presents in one night surely he must be like God and know whether we'd been good or not. This was my first experience of guilt!

Shazam! The door would be ceremoniously opened by my father, and my brother and sister and myself would dive into what seemed a sea of treasures. My parents were unforgettably generous. There'd be a blackboard on an easel, a tricycle, Rupert Bear annuals, punch balls (I was determined to beat my brother in our many fracas), cowboy outfits, Etcha-Sketch, Blue Peter annuals - the list is endless.

Magic does exist and it's invariably performed by those people who keep their children innocent of their hard work, parents!

Christmas, to me, is a place where I wish time itself would stand still and embrace us all, for ever, in that feeling of love, security and happiness.

Once Upon A Christmas
Christmas 1996
(Thanks to Paul Lomas)