One of my earliest memories of Christmas, was Christmas at Selfridges. My parents would take my sister and myself up to London to have a London Christmas. From Waterloo Station we would take either a taxi (if my father felt in the mood to pay for it) or we would take the tube. Back then there used to be ticket machines in the Underground entrance. Loaded with our 5 and 10 pence we would reach up and put the required amount in the slot of the machine. And out popped a ticket made from card. And a man would check your ticket when you entered the station platforms. It was all so exciting and different from the village life we were used to.
The Selfridges Christmas Windows
We haven’t been to Selfridges for sometime. But with the power of YouTube it is easy to see what the Christmas windows are like now. Commercial. Which is really sad. As a child, I don’t remember them being commercial at all. But they were themed, usually around a book or the like. We would stand outside Selfridges agog at the magic of the displays, walking from window to window, come rain or cold. It was really magical. Last time we took our son to see them, the magic had gone. He had come accustom to the amazing Christmas windows of Myer in Melbourne. Similar to how I had remembered Selfridges as a child.
Seeing Father Christmas at Selfridges
If the Selfridges windows were magical. The real reason for going to Selfridges was to see Father Christmas. I remember one Christmas we queued for hours in one of the stairwells at Selfridges. In our heavy winter clothing and being really hot and bothered. Plus my father whinging about the wait, not the best lover of queues. But frequently, the wait was worth it. Selfridges would have theme displays that would wind their way around various scenes from a book, and Wind in the Willows, I remember most fondly, it was amazing. Even when I was at university in London, I would go and see what their Father Christmas grotto was like. With age, they became less and less impressive, but I could still appreciate the time put into the grotto.
By the time we took our then young son to Selfridges, the windows didn’t hold his imagination, as the Myer windows would later do. But the grotto I wouldn’t say had progressed but was more interactive. Maybe that is a sign of the times we now live in. Back in the 70’s you had to use your imagination a little more. Now it was complete stimulation. And the stimulation was a train track around a winter scene. Now don’t get me wrong, I really enjoyed it and the enjoyment of watching my son and wife interacting together during the whole experience. It was interesting how much things have changed. But visiting Father Christmas in his chair never seems to change.
Christmas Shopping at Selfridges
Either as a child, a penniless student, fiancé, husband or father. I love shopping at Selfridges at Christmas. It is just the vibe, the smell, the heat (that laying of clothing that makes shopping in London somewhat uncomfortable, at Christmas), the decorations. That just add to the layers of memories of Christmas. I miss it. Particularly, the variety that just isn’t available in Melbourne. And no one in London or Melbourne quiet has the Christmas Department that Selfridges does. Christmas at Selfridges, as with Fortnum & Mason, is Christmas.