Christmas shopping and special Christmases gone by


A sneaky shot of Alison Keenan in her snug bootsI have been somewhat panicked after last Friday's gem show with Jilly, when so many of you texted and rang in to tell us how organised you are with your Christmas present buying! The fact that I was still sunbathing in October has lulled me into a false sense of security and, as I admitted on the night, I have only just begun to break the back of my shopping list! 

I don't think Jilly was much further forward than me, although she rather fancied the boots I was wearing on the night and caught me unawares just before we went on air (see photo left)! So now you know what goes on underneath the table  – Jilly was in a sleeping bag! :) 

Actually truth be told we always have a bit of an issue with the air conditioning in that Studio – it's either freezing cold or boiling hot, but as long as my feet are warm I'm OK. 

My Christmas shopping list

Model wearing the Slanket wearable blanket I was still thinking of Christmas when I got into the car to drive home and began to try and make a note what I'd planned to get the children this year. Lucy is always easy to buy for bless her, she likes most things. This year though, she and her man Rich are moving from the flat into their first little home together so she's already asked for Slankets and other practical things. She loves jewellery and bath products so I will squirrel a few of those away too. 

Sam wants money to do his car up with, and Jack's already had money towards a BMX bike. I know it's all part of growing up but I miss the days when the element of surprise was what made it special.

Christmases gone by

Sam's little face when he got the his Scalextric was not to be missed, Lucy had a carousel complete with music and horses that moved up and down – it even had lights! She kept it until she went to University… Jack was never out of his Crazy Coupe car, although he always travelled backwards in it for some reason… they were some of the happiest Christmases.

Of course we all try to bring back what we had as children, and I still remember sitting with my sister Jenny looking out of the window waiting for Father Christmas to come… we never did see him bring the stockings in. 

My favourite present when I was little

One year Dad decided that as well as the presents from Father Christmas, he would make something for Jenny and I, and he spent hours hammering and sawing in the shed at the end of the garden. I was DESPERATE to find out what he was making and so about a week before Christmas I got up just as it was light and found the key to the shed!

The first thing I saw was a perfect wooden cot complete with a mattress and it actually rocked! I wasn't sure who it was for, so I squeezed past it to the back of the shed and saw a large square shape covered in a candlewick bedspread. I pulled the bedspread back. Standing there in the half light was the most beautiful doll's house. 

The front door was green and the entire front of the house opened down the middle to show the rooms, wallpapered and carpeted complete with ceiling lights. I was sure it was for me and can still remember how I felt… unbelievably happy yet really sad that I'd spoiled the surprise. I never let on though, and on Christmas morning when I'd unwrapped it and we'd set it up with wooden furniture that my Grandad had made, and Dad had shown me how to turn the lights on, I told him it was the best present ever… and I meant it. 

Willows in the fire I kept it for years, moving it from house to house, and it wasn't until I moved back down South in the '90s that I gave it to the local church along with the pram, high chair, playpen and umpteen other things that were no longer needed and we didn't have room for. Funnily enough Lucy was never really interested in it – she had her Sylvanian bunny house – but for me it symbolised everything special about Christmas and my childhood. I wonder if you've kept anything that's special to you from years back? I bet you do.

One things for certain though, I'll have to get the chimney swept before December 24th… Willows had a good look up there last night and it was very sooty 🙂

Have a great week,
Love Ali xx


  1. Margaret November 18, 2009 at 10:43 pm -  Reply

    Hi Alison , oh I do like reading your blogs so very interesting and entertaining , my Dad was the same he made dolls cots for sisters and myself Mum made all the lovely bedding and she used to crochet some edges for the quilts and pillowslips we used for our dolls, Dad also made a desk for my elder sister and then it came down to me I think when we outgrew it a family with little money and quite a few children were given it they also had a dolls pram Mum refurbished for them, we did better in those days recycling than now and nothing was ever wasted.Think Christmas is lovely now but I do think it somehow had more magic back then or am I getting old and seeing it through rose coloured glasses , dont think so though, we even had snow then and it just made it so special, just didnt like the chapped hands when we were always out snowballing the kids from across the street all very friendly if they beat us one day we were out to get them back the next.Memories are flooding back now, All good wishes ,Margaretxx

  2. Rhona Fenton November 19, 2009 at 5:29 pm -  Reply

    Hi Alison I believe every word about willow going up the chimney you know why because Boston did the very same thing and colin caught him in the nick of time mind you he was that far up at this point, there colin was up to the arm pit and just caught Bostons hind leg and no more oh they are fast so heres a tip for you as we ended up having to stuff the chimney with Bubble wrap to keep him out just remember to remove it if you put the fire on:)as for your first picture have to say the Boots match your Dress so well ha ha having been to the studio a few times and seen behind the scenes I could believe what goes on behind the dest:)love your story about child hood my Dad made me a Dolls house too and the next doors cat used to come in and sleep in the livingroom of the Dolls house it was so cute mind you not a lot of space left to play for a furry gray cat taking up the lounge space!! yeah please also keep me up to date with Sam, I too are going into hospital in January for an op and it’s a worrying time so I can imagine what you must be going through being a mum myself but hope all goes well for Sam and as you say end results pain free for him my thoughts will be with you all, thanks as alway’s for your funny storys I do love to read your blog pages, have a lovely weekend to you all lots of love Rhona xx

  3. dorothy November 19, 2009 at 6:55 pm -  Reply

    hi alison
    I was doing sooooo well with christmas shopping but have come to a full stop, dont know what to get,i agree with margaret when we were younger it was magical because we did not get all year round parents did not have the money but had great time, and excitment could not sleep. always getting chased back to bed. And xmas morn every one was out on bikes or pushing prams you dont see that now. god i am getting old.hope you got house and cat cleaned soot is awfull.
    love best wishes
    dorothy xx

  4. Steven November 20, 2009 at 10:40 pm -  Reply

    Hi Alison
    You looked lovely tonight on Qvc I have to say. Loved the kinky boots in the pic too!!
    I am lucky I’ve not got a lot of people to get presents for but the ones I do have to buy for are a nightmare. Especially my Dad!
    What are you asking Santa for this year?! Great read again. Always great blogs Ali. Kepp up the great work both on here and on screen.
    Love Steve xx

  5. alison keenan November 22, 2009 at 6:51 pm -  Reply

    Hello Margaret. how lovely to hear about your Christmases! I should have mentioned in my blog that my mum and my nanny sewed all the curtains and bedding plus cushions for the chairs and sofa in my doll’s house too, and they finished it off perfectly. I think the fact that so much effort went into the finished gift made it much for fun for not just us, but for those who made it too. You made me smile about the chapped hands. Does anybody these days get chilblains anymore I wonder? I used to get them on my feet and they itched like crazy! I don’t think it’s rose coloured glass at all Margaret, I think that’s how it was… before the weight of growing up and responsibility kicks in. Thanks again for writing to me. Love Ali x

  6. alison keenan November 22, 2009 at 7:08 pm -  Reply

    Rhona, thank you for making me laugh today – your blogs are much funnier than mine 🙂 Your poor Colin with his arm half way up the chimney trying to grab Boston. I’d love to have seen the day Boston tried to get up there once the bubble wrap was in place!! I don’t know if there’d have been room in my dolls house for a cat, but i did have a pet mouse for a while and she loved being in there. Didn’t much enjoy clearing up after her tho! I very much hope that your op is a success Rhona and let me know how you get on. I have to be honest and say that as always I’m a little apprehensive about Wednesday, but am sure all will be well… as I tell Sam 🙂 Love to you all too Rhona x x x

  7. alison keenan November 22, 2009 at 7:12 pm -  Reply

    Dorothy you’re so right. I remember being out there with my dolls pram, and then another year on a pair of roller skates… slightly more slowly that time though! I think the little ones still love it and the gifts haven’t changed that much, I guess a lot of it has to do with the electronic age we live in…or maybe as you say, I’m just getting old….:) House cleaned and even a few Christmas presents wrapped – amazing for me! Love and best wishes to you too, Ali xx

  8. alison keenan November 26, 2009 at 8:42 pm -  Reply

    Hi Steve,
    Your compliment made me blush – so my face was as warm as my feet 🙂 Just an idea about your dad – does he like music? Cos if so, you could buy him an album of music from when he was about your age, I’m sure he’d like that. Or perhaps a theatre voucher or cinema pass? There’s always the option to put money behind the bar for him at his local… just make sure he takes you with him! Hope that helps. 🙂 Love Ali xx

  9. Steven November 28, 2009 at 11:54 am -  Reply

    Hi Ali thanks for your suggestions. I have got him a music cd ironically! I think he is going through a mid life crisis because he listens to all the modern stuff that I am into! You must be a mind reader. I have also got him a DVD so sorted there. The idea about the local sounds like a great one though. That can be his Birthday one! What is Santa bringing you Mrs Keenan. re the compliment – I thought you would be used to them! I’m sure you get plenty
    Love Steven xx

  10. alison keenan December 8, 2009 at 6:19 pm -  Reply

    Steven, clearly great minds think alike!! 🙂 Glad I was of help although it sounds as though you’d already got there! Do you know, I have no idea what Santa is bringing me – I haven’t been terribly good at suggesting things for myself, but at the last count – I have 43 people to buy for!!! Nightmare – thank heavens for QVC 🙂 Hope your week’s going well. Love ali x

  11. Steven December 9, 2009 at 4:49 pm -  Reply

    43 people! I don’t know how you have time to reply to people on here Ali. You work in a great place for suggestions though! I’m sure Santa will be good to you 😀
    Thanks for taking the time to reply again xx

  12. alison keenan December 13, 2009 at 2:52 pm -  Reply

    ALways worth making time for people who take the time for me! I’m keeping my fingers crossed though that Santa will be good to me – plan to leave two mince pies on the hearth this year for him 🙂 Cheers Steven x

  13. Mrs Irene Oastler December 29, 2009 at 5:44 pm -  Reply

    Hi Alison – loved reading your blog and catching up with what’s been going on in your busy life. I noticed your comments about having you hair cut or not. Your hair looks good now as you have the choice of up or down. I did, however, really like your hair when it was very short and kind of ‘spikey’, it was a very attractive style and suited you no end. Keep up the good work Alison, you are one of my favourite presenters. Hope you and your family have good luck and happiness in 2010. Lots of Love. Irene

  14. Sue Joynson January 5, 2010 at 2:39 am -  Reply

    Dear Alison,
    Have just read your blog about your sons accident and what a mother goes thru at the time. You try to protect them but there are certain times when you can not wrap them up any longer in cotton wool and boy does it hurt!!
    We lost our 28 year old to cancer 5 years ago and I am still finding it very hard to come to terms with it, if indeed one does come to term with the loss of a child. He was very strong and I know he would not want me to be unhappy all the time, like you we spent every second of every day at the hospital until we knew he had ‘left’ us and then it was even harder to leave.
    I am so glad that your son is well and is determined to do everything in life that he planned to do before the accident. The photos I have seen I can certainly see why you are proud of him he sure is a fighter.
    When one of your offsprings gets injured or passes away it is the worst moment a mother goes thru or could ever possibly go thru.
    I enjoy watching you on QVC and certainly remember you from the days before qvc as well. Keep up the good work

  15. alison keenan January 5, 2010 at 12:54 pm -  Reply

    Dear Sue, I wanted to thank you so much for taking the time to tell me of your son and how incredibly difficult losing him still understandably will be for you…. I so wish there was something I could write that would be of comfort to you, or make what seems interminable less painful…..We came close to losing Sam twice during those four months he was in hospital. I remember looking at him with a feeding tube and lines in his neck and his arms, and wondering how much longer he could cope.. but that was just a moment in time for me… As you say, to lose a child is every mothers biggest fear. We are here to look after them, and to make it all better…sometimes that is just not possible. But I do know that you are right when you say your son wouldn’t want you to be so sad all the time. To try and stop missing my Dad so much I used to go over all the good times we had together, things he said, places we used to visit, and things that made us laugh. That way he is always alive to me…I am sure you made all 28 years of your sons life very special, that in itself is a gift. Something that has helped me, is to try and see your grief as a large hole in your life that is unlikely to ever fill in, but one that in time you will learn to walk around, rather than forever pitching into it. On a practical note bereavement counselling is incredibly helpful to some. Take care Sue, and I hope that this year will be one that sees you looking forward to much happier times. With my love, Ali x

  16. alison keenan January 10, 2010 at 5:46 pm -  Reply

    Hello Irene,
    I meant to reply to your message when I wrote to Sue, but my battery gave out! Thank you for your lovely comments and for keeping in touch through my blog. I’m glad you enjoy reading them, and I hope to continue to have plenty to write about this year too! I found some photographs of me with my hair shorter just yesterday, and am once again torn…! Maybe a wig is the answer 🙂 A very happy New Year to you, and do keep in touch.
    Love Ali xx

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