Christmas to me isn't a happy time. Many of my memories are of hardship and sorrow, not to the extent of the workhouses - thank the Lord.
The most memorable and last Christmas was 1974.
Why was it both memorable and lasting, read on to find out.
I had enlisted in the Royal Air Force a few weeks earlier and our basic training involved camping out for a week, in what turned out to be the harshest winter in over 20 years. We were supposed to be in the camp for a week, but we were brought back after three days.
1974 was also the Christmas that I did the injury to my ankle that has left me an invalid.
1975 was the first Christmas I spent in Scotland. I set off early for the trip to Bristol, and I was plagued by delays caused by snow from the all the way from Elgin to Edinburgh. The train from Elgin to Huntly could only get as far as Keith before the track was blocked. By the time we'd been put on a coach from Keith to Aberdeen, we missed the connecting train from Keith to Aberdeen by five minutes. After waiting for the train to Edinburgh, we arrived in time to miss the train to Bristol by ten minutes.
I decided that rather than wait for several hours for the next through train, I'd get links, I got as far as Birmingham before I ran out of links.
1976 was my last Christmas at RAF Lossiemouth. I was getting ready for my leave when my Serjeant called me and said to quickly pack my kit, he'd booked me on a flight on a Hercules from RAF Kinloss, and the bus was leaving the Air Traffic Control section in an hour. This was a long-haul journey traveling the length of the UK. Our first call was at RAF Machrihanish, on the Firth of Forth. The next port of call was RAF Leeming, in Yorkshire and then onto RAF Brize Norton, in Wiltshire.
Nine years ago, my friend Faye passed away two weeks before Christmas. Faye lived in Lac La Biche, in Alberta, Canada and she was a wonderful friend.
Several years ago we were the recipients of a charity basket from our local school as the family hit hard times and couldn't pay our bills. It was pay bills or eat, and the bills had to be paid.
Last year, my cat, Smudge was taken from us. I can't blame the vixen as she has her cubs to feed. And this year, I thought I'd lost my BFF - Best Furry Friend - the BBW (Big Brave Woofly), Max.