‘An Orange in My Stocking’ – A Grandmother’s Memories of Christmas Long Ago – Part One

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An Orange in Your Stocking

It was just after the Second World War

in the early forties when Robyn’s granny

was about seven or eight. She said:

“Fruit that grew in hot countries

like bananas and oranges was scarce.

These could only be got if a cargo ship

made it through from Lisbon in Portugal.

These ships had to come through the Bay of Biscay

and many vessels were lost making the trip.

So it was a big treat when someone got…

an orange in their stocking.


This is not to say Christmas was not the most magical of times.

For weeks even months preparations were being made.

The Mammies were arranging with the butcher,

the baker and other shop keepers to keep stuff for them.

There were no supermarkets then

and very little money so people would go to these shops,

pick out what they wanted and pay a little for them every week,

so when Christmas week arrived everything was paid for.

The children had jobs to do too.

They would go to the woods

and gather holly and ivy to decorate the house.

We also collected for the neighbours

who had nobody to do it for them.

If they gave you a penny, it would be riches indeed,

but if they didn’t, it didn’t matter

as we had such fun gathering it.

To us they were wonderful times

and even if everything changes,

the message of Christmas remains the same.

Christ was born to us in a stable

bringing joy to the world and goodwill to man’.

2 thoughts on “‘An Orange in My Stocking’ – A Grandmother’s Memories of Christmas Long Ago – Part One

  1. One year when I was a bit younger I stayed at my Dad’s for Christmas Eve and when I got up in the morning I looked in my stocking and I saw the orange right on the top.
    I thought it was a bit strange so I didnt mention anything to my dad but when I got home I asked my mum “Mum, Why did I get a orange in my stocking”
    And she explained to me why and now if I ever do stay at my dads for Christmas and I get another orange, I’m gonna smile and say “MERRY CHRISTMAS”

    Room 5
    Melville Intermediate
    New Zealand

  2. Thanks for your comment Jamie. My Mum always put an orange in the bottom of my Christmas Stocking and I would have done the same with my children. It was a tradition. I never thought about why she did it, but seeing it there every year was reassuring. I can understand now, that if they were scare during World War 2, they became precious.

    Ireland weren’t involved in World War 2 but we were affected. There was rationing of food. It was referred to as ‘The Emergency’. My mother remembers, her mother telling her about a fruit called a banana, which she herself had never seen. My mother was born shortly before World War 2 and like oranges, bananas were scarce.

    Her mother used slice a vegetable called a parsnip ( a bit turnip like) and sprinkle it with sugar and tell her that is what bananas would taste like. I must say the similarity would be very slight.

    I wish you a very happy Christmas this year … and an orange in your stocking 🙂

    With every good wish

    Merry Beau

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