As Cyn told her Mother, she and Cec had plans for Christmas! Their Goodbye Cambridge Party was postponed until January, but I’m sure they had Carol to stay and fed Cec’s hungry friends on Christmas Day. And Cyn’s Christmas card list was colossal- 127 names listed! As it appeared Cec had done in the past, they sent a card with a photograph- his had been scenes of Cambridge, but this year, they sent their wedding photo. To Cyn’s list of relatives in Ireland, America, England, and the West Indies and her friends in England and America, was added all Cec’s friends and relations in Canada and England, their wedding guests, plus ‘professional’ names- professors, and Admiralty contacts. Some they were saying goodbye to, some they would be seeing in the new year.
Cyn’s teaching career was ending, with the usual Christmas task for the Cookery teacher, her student’s decorated Christmas cakes.
And, as with schools everywhere, there was the Christmas Concert, with musical numbers and what seems to be a Nativity Scene. I’m sure there was also a farewell tea for Cynthia, with good wishes from her colleagues.
And at home there was a happy domestic Christmas, with a tree, presents, Cyn’s lists, a good dinner with friends, and, of course, a cat.
In his letter of November 24th, Cec was thinking a month ahead, worrying that his Christmas cards, which he’d ordered made up with a photo of his Cambridge College, St. John’s, were going to be late for mailing overseas to friends and family in Canada. At that time he was not sure where he was going to spend Christmas- with friends in Oxford, or with Cyn and her mother in Cambridge. Perhaps he visited Oxford later that season, but in the end he spent Christmas with Cyn and Carol.
Now present-giving was important to Cynthia, as her organized record of those given and received shows. What she remembered of that first Christmas with Cec was the pile of presents under the Christmas tree for the three of them, Cyn, Carol, and Cec: handing them round, opening the latest Agatha Christie hardback from Cec with great appreciation, and- not finding any more from him! (Families have different traditions, and the Costain family- a prairie farmer’s family with five children- obviously gave fewer Christmas presents per child than Cyn, an only child, was used to.) Her main present to Cec was a wooden shield in relief of the Coat of Arms of St. John’s College, which I remember hanging on the wall of our home with the framed antique maps they had bought themselves in Cambridge.
This Christmas there were not as many food parcels from America as there had been the year before, but Auntie Moo had sent a Christmas cake from the West Indies, and Cec was getting food parcels from his family, so we can assume they had treats!
While Christmas 1947 approaches, I thought we could look at the very organized records Cyn kept of her purchases and gifts, which her letters from America showed were very important to her. I think some of the things listed above that Cyn brought for her friends from the States in August 1947 were scarcities in England such as the stockings, and had been arranged and paid for by the recipients, but she seems to have brought something for everyone mentioned in her letters, so perhaps not.
In her previous letter of December 6th, she is already telling her mother about her Christmas shopping. She listed (in an outdated diary from her father’s medical days, judging from the ads for tablets on every page) all Christmas cards sent and received, and all the presents she gave and received, from 1932 until 1965 when the book was full! This December, besides the cards and gifts exchanged with her family and friends in England, she sent cards to all her American friends, and presents to her relatives and closer friends there, mostly calendars for the adults and books for the children- things easy to post. And as my last post showed with the close-up of her Presents Received page, (repeated here, 2nd page) they responded with generosity! But her father does not feature in the lists this year, or any year after.
Mummy Brown and white cotton dress. Pink slip. Pearls & earrings – lipstick & rouge.
Dad Tie- Magazine “Holiday” for 1 year.
Nan Brown & white striped cotton dress trimmed with green. White necklace made of strands of tiny little white beads like those I made at home. I bought it & then discovered that it was threaded on the thinnest thread & it broke even when I was looking at it (5 & 10!) so I threaded it all over again. White earrings to match of tiny white beads threaded, & put in the shape of a bow.
Dottie A chatelaine & earrings to match – pretty I thought- of silver with turquoise blue stones. The earrings are in the shape of a flower & the chatelaine is two bigger flower things, attached to each other with a chain, to wear on the lapel of a suit or on a dress like this
Also 1 tablet soap.
Peter A toy called a “Quirrly “– it’s like a spring & does things like walking downstairs. Also two little cotton sweaters with round necks & short sleeves – one pale yellow and one pale blue.
Bar A pair of stockings (rayon)
Geraldine A set of plastic toy knives & forks.
Ruth A compact. Do you remember how thrilled she was with the lovely one Monie sent me last year? Well I tried to get her one like that, but they cost a dreadful price, so I got her this one – square, gold-coloured, with two flowers on the front. It was quite expensive, so I hope she likes it. I enclosed a cake of soap for Amy.
Peter & Christopher Allan A box of candy.
Irene An organdie apron- white with red spots – very “cute”! Also a piece of soap for Mrs. Scott.
Mary Egan A set of plastic measuring spoons – different colours – also a plastic dish for the baby.
Miss Lefroy A perfumed flower (paper) to put in her hankies.
Mrs Allan A box of toilet soap like red roses, & a coloured tea towel.
Anne Chapman A pair of nylon stockings.
Jessie Fisher A pearl brooch – it was so pretty that I nearly sent it to you instead of her! It was shaped like a crescent with pearls and a little brilliant.
Lillian A box of “pancake” make up that she wanted.
Pam Hapgood (she has written to me quite a bit) A pair of gold earrings (5 & 10!)
Ivy Pagecroft A “date kit”! A box of Pond’s cream, powder etc.
Jessie Hall & Zinnia – I have presents for them but I haven’t sent them as I still have had no word from Jessie since I left England. No thank you for Zinnia’s parcel – not even anything about the new baby & I don’t even know her address. I have a pair of stockings for her & a little handbag & some flower hairslides for Zinnia, but I’m not going to send them, although it’s a shame Zinnia should suffer for her mother’s shortcomings.
I just got my American presents yesterday, & this is what I got-
Aunt Muriel A white woolen cardigan. I thought she might like something warm, & white is worn over here a lot & would go with anything.
Aunt Ettie A pair of service weight silk stockings.
Mona A pair of pigskin gloves.
Margs A paisley-patterned wool square.
Mil A box of Elizabeth Arden talcum & toilet water.
Hugh & Mona A funny record of “Old Macdonald had a Farm” with all the animal noises- Mil won a “record player” when I was there in the summer.
Alan A cute little tiny drum with candy in & I’ll get him some other little toy.
Three white linen hankies for U. Artie, Bill & Ford.
Til A pair of black suede gloves & two pretty embroidered hankies
Lois A red lizard belt & two blue hankies
Ruth A white linen hankie
David & Mary L. A record like Hugh’s
Altogether I think I spent about as much on my few American presents as I did on all my English presents, but of course I knew that any little thing I sent home would be useful & a novelty, but over here, everyone seems to have everything & it’s much more difficult. Also everyone I’m giving presents to here is being very kind to me. I forgot to tell you, I got A. Phine two hankies too, but they’re cheap ones!
P. S. I somehow don’t suppose any of my parcels will arrive for Christmas. I think the U.S. P.O. and the English Customs are two of the most disgusting institutions!