Christmas of 1942 was the first year I really began to understand what it was all about. As the special day approached, I grew more and more excited. On Christmas Eve Lily put me to bed early with a warning that Father Christmas would not come if I were awake. Falling asleep on this particular night wasn’t easy for an excited little boy. I lay in bed worrying what might happen if he arrived and found me still awake. In my very active imagination, the events taking place on that night would for many years remain real rather than a dream. First, I would hear a strange noise outside my bedroom window. My bed was against the window, making it easy to stand and peer into the dark night sky.
Air defence posts routinely swept the sky with powerful beams from searchlights probing the dark sky. In one of these bright rays, I would see something so incredulous I hardly dared to believe my eyes. There was Father Christmas, driving his sleigh through the sky, complete with six reindeer. I suddenly became very scared. Had he seen me in the window? Would he still come, knowing I was awake? At that point I would dive under the covers and out of sight. I prayed he hadn’t spotted me, and laid very still, hardly breathing and trying very hard to fall asleep. It must have worked, for the next thing I remember is Lily waking me, telling me to come see what Father Christmas had brought me. All my life, I have retained the wonderful memory of that magical night. Was it merely a child’s imagination?