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Christmas memories: blasts from our past

18 DEC

Christmas is a time for many things. A time for gift-giving, and goodwill to all men. A time for Mary Poppins on the telly, chocolate for breakfast, and full days in pyjamas. A time for family, friends, and plenty of food.

Christmas is also, as we all know, a time for unapologetic nostalgia and sentimentality. In this vein, our special Christmas blog this year takes a trip down the proverbial memory lane. Here the brightfive team share our fondest Christmas memories, looking back at the best presents we received as children.

Get ready for some blasts for the past (you’re probably about to feel really old…).


Christmas 1980s

"It's 1984, my older sister and I had asked for a no-doubt modest list of tat (Care Bears, My Little Ponies, Cabbage Patch Kids) and knew better than to ask for the big hitters that year. No Atari's for us.

So imagine our genuine delight when we got up at a reasonable time (0600) and found a MASSIVE SINDY'S SUPER HOME. Standing at over 1m tall (as big as me!) complete with furniture, curtains and everything the lovely Sindy could need to live her exciting, yet wholesome life (we weren't allowed Barbie, she was trouble). We absolutely loved that gift and played with it endlessly - this will always be my best childhood Christmas gift memory.

Here I am climbing on a calor gas canister to reach the top...different times."


Roland D50

"It was 1987. I was 14.

From a young age I had taken clarinet, flute and piano lessons, sung in a church choir and played in various bands and orchestras. As I entered my teenage years however, I was finding my feet, and wanted to write more music of my own.

I had been badgering my folks for a "professional" synthesizer for some time and I'd often pop into Banks Music (when it was on Stonebow in York). It was mostly full of upright pianos and wood-effect organs but in their small "tech" corner was a tiny, understated synth called a Roland Juno 2. I'd wind up the the staff playing the intro to Van Halen's Jump over and over.

By coincidence, Roland was about to launch possibly the most influential synth of the decade - second only perhaps to Yamaha's DX7 three years previous. I'm not quite sure how it happened, but in 1987, Father Christmas struggled down the chimney with a shiny new Roland D50. My very generous parents must have slipped him a substantially-sized brown envelope.


I was smitten. I would stare at it for hours from all angles. I would shun sleep to spend just another hour messing around with its settings and parameters. Over the coming couple of years, its iconic sounds were plastered over commercial recordings from the likes of Prince, Duran Duran, Michael Jackson, Jean Michel Jarre, Pet Shop Boys and Peter Gabriel - and I had my very own!

It was the start of my lifelong interest in tinkering with tunes and writing and producing music. Even now - almost 30 years later - among professional players, it stands the test of time. I would never let it go."



"I remember being very excited in 1982 when I got my Tiny Tears baby doll -  I was 4 (very nearly 5 years old). You squeezed one arm to make her cry and the other arm to make her wee! The following year (1983) I got a Ra-ra skirt and Buck Fizz Greatest hits record - I thought I was so grown up!

I suppose my favourite present was my racer bike when I was about 12 or 13 years old. All my friends had them and I was desperate for one but never asked for one as I knew as we really didn't have much money and could never afford one.

ellie bike.JPG

I was overjoyed when I woke up on Christmas day to find it waiting for me in the sitting room. To this day I have no idea where my Mum hide it from me in the run up to Christmas because I was, and still am, a snooper. Although I certainly wasn't expecting a bike, I had been looking for hidden Christmas presents all through December and hadn't found it. I questioned various family friends after Christmas to see if they had been hiding it at their houses but no-one cracked!

I still snoop now to the point that the kids won't put any of presents under the tree until late Christmas Eve!"


Jamie 1

"My favourite present was this Lego train set I received one Christmas when I was around 8 or 9.

I'm not exactly sure how old I was but it was the early 80's. At the time we lived in a pub that Mum and Dad had bought as a business, so Christmas was always a very busy, but very exciting time of the year. I would help Mum and Dad decorate the pub. We also had our own tree and decorations upstairs too, but the ones for the pub were way more fun and Christmassy, but in that fantastically kitsch, shiny tinsel 1980's kind of way.

There were always lots of people around too - a very social time of year. We would always have a fancy dress New Year's Eve party which I was allowed to stay up for. Mum and I used to go to a fancy dress shop in Fulford to get our costumes. I went as a big yellow duck one memorable year.

Jamie 2.JPG

I think the present was a fantastic gift but more than that - it reminds me of some fabulous family Christmas times. As a child there is so much magic to this time of year: the build-up and excitement, the great Christmas television (only 3 or 4 channels though!), the sweets and chocolates, and I'm sure it used to snow... (maybe not).

Now I've children of my own I hope they can experience the same excitement and delight that I was lucky enough to have as a boy.

I also had a great bowl haircut, too."



"The very best present I ever received was purchased after I subtlydropped hints about the Super Nintendo Entertainment System (or SNES).

SI 02_2

It was a Christmas or two after its initial release (early console adopters back then were not 12 year old boys) and my mum was exceedingly chuffed to have picked up a console (for a bargain) at a car boot sale.

However, what mum thought was a SNES actually turned out to be a NES - the previous model and some 8 years old by this point. I subtly** hid my initial disappointment, but it turned out to be the absolute best console, in the world, ever! Until (after igniting my passion for console games) the actual SNES made its way into the house some years later."

* No 12yr old is subtle...ever! They just think they are.


"Weirdly, I really struggled to remember any Christmas presents from my childhood. Before you start feeling sorry for me, I will hasten to add that this is not for lack of presents. I got a ridiculous number of gifts each year. I was spoilt rotten.

Nor is this down to a lack of happy Christmas memories. Most of the time it would just be me and my mum at home - my dad worked long hours and went away quite often and my sisters, being older, both moved out when I was small. Our cousins lived all the way in Hertfordshire, which was about as far away as I could conceive. So Christmas was a dramatic reversal - the house was suddenly full. There were fights for the bathroom, we had to pull an end table up the the dining table to fit everyone on for dinner: it was brilliant.

Toy Theatre

Mum to the rescue! I had her dig out her old photos from the attic. We found this picture from Christmas Day, 1993 and the memory of this gift came flooding back.

First, check out all my presents. Told you I was spoilt.

If you can see it through the glare, that is a toy theatre that I am playing with. It had multiple backdrops, pieces of scenery and actors in various costumes you could slot in, depending on the scene you wanted to create. All could be operated from behind (a bit like a marionette theatre), using those roller-stick- things you can see on the floor there.

I remember forcing my poor family to watch me perform ‘plays’ with this for years to come. 13 years later I left home to study English and Drama at university. Coincidence? I think not."



"The best present I have ever had was when my parents bought me and my sister a kawasaki 80cc trial bike to bez round on the farm with.

It was old, rusty, heavy and it never fired up the first time but it was awesome. It was like this, but not as nice.

Think of a dirtier, rustier version of this."




Today is our last day in the office (we’ll be back on the 4th January) so we wanted to finish the year on a festive note with this special blog.  Thank you to all our clients, colleagues, family and friends for your continued support in 2015.

See you in the new year!