Opinion: Arrival of my sister was the best Christmas gift

Louise Graydon
Louise Graydon
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Snow continued to fall as the 12 year old girl watched the train pull away from Battersby Station.

She put down her case and looked around, there was no one about, where was her Dad? He was supposed to meet her at the station with his bicycle, and together they would walk the four miles to their remote cottage on the moors.

A Christmas railway journey in 1955 caused plenty of concern for columnist Louise Graydon ' happily, all ended well!

A Christmas railway journey in 1955 caused plenty of concern for columnist Louise Graydon ' happily, all ended well!

Her train from Malton to Grosmont had been delayed and she had missed the connection from Grosmont to Battersby and waited three hours for the next one. It was now dark, with no-one to ask she started walking along the lonely disused railway track to her home, a full moon shone out to guide her.

It was 1955 and a few days before Christmas and she was returning home from school for the holidays.

Meanwhile in the little cottage, my middle sister and me were so excited because big sister would soon be arriving and we only got to see her in the holidays.

Dad had taken a job with the Forestry Commission which included a cottage three miles from the nearest village, with no electricity, no car and obviously no phone. My parents had not wanted to disrupt their eldest daughter’s secondary education in Scarborough so she lived on our grandparents’ farm near Malton during term time.

Sitting round the fire in candlelight with something delicious cooking in the fire oven the excitement mounted as the front door opened, but only Dad walked in, no big sister. Young as I was, I could detect the concern and tension between my parents, where could she be?

Dad had been in good time for the expected train, but when she wasn’t on it, he didn’t know what to do, perhaps she was ill and had never started the journey.

He couldn’t phone Grandad as the farm didn’t have a phone and Dad wouldn’t have any money in his pocket and anyway there was no public phone box for miles. After waiting for ages, he decided to cycle home. Nowadays it is hard to believe such a dilemma, we have mobile phones, Skype, WhatsApp. and all the rest of it, which enables us to constantly be in touch.

Sixty two years ago my sister’s travel arrangements would have been done by letter and several weeks in advance.

Suddenly the candle flames flickered, there was a rush of cold air and my sister burst through the door, she had made it! Upset, cold, but safe, what a joyous moment forus, as once again we were all together. Every year, thousands of people make difficult journeys to be with friends and family for Christmas, and even today with all our communications technology, we all experience the same sense of relief when we or our loved ones arrive at destinations safe and sound.

For our parents the arrival of my sister on that snowy night must have been the best Christmas present they could ever have wished for.