The Singing Doctor
Childhood dictates many of our Christmas traditions and the way we feel about the festivities. I have to admit, my feelings are always mixed and there are good things mingling with the bad at this time of year. Yet there's one thing I always remember - my maternal grandmother and the Christmas album she loved.
Whereas many homes probably had pop Christmas songs or carols on repeat in the 90s, my grandmother's go-to was a cassette of Christmas hits recorded by her doctor. I suspect the album was recorded as a charity tape and I can't find any reference to it online but, let me tell you, he had a brilliant voice and he came above Bing Crosby in that house at Christmas, especially with his rendition of 'Silver Bells'.
As important as the album itself was the fact that this doctor was the only one my grandmother would let anywhere near her. She hated doctors for reasons I never fully deciphered. Perhaps it was simply the default stance of a woman who was born in 1927 and lost her husband early or perhaps there was something else to it. I don't know and, unfortunately, I never will, but I do remember the fact she always recalled the way this doctor pulled up a chair, looked her straight in the eye and asked, "Now, what are we going to do?"
We. My grandmother and the singing doctor working in tandem to get her healthier.
So many of my Christmas memories are entwined with that house and the backdrop of the singing doctor. The 80s triangular banner decorations and the manger scene for the windowsill. The assorted nuts in the special dish on the table and the decrepit tree that had seen far too many years. Going door to door with Christmas cards and hoping no one would hear the letterbox because I didn't want to stay there for hours while my gran gabbed with one of her friends. All this is associated with Christmas in my mind and I guess it always will be.
Perhaps the foundation of our individual Christmas spirits is made from the building blocks of our childhood Christmases. If so, that singing doctor who I met just once has had more of an impact on my life than my grandma would've thought possible.
Merry Christmas if you celebrate. Happy December if you don't.
PS. The first instalment of my new serial I Am Allegra Bartlett went live last week and you can read it here for free. If you subscribe to my mailing list you will get a discount on future instalments - full details to be furnished in the New Year!