The Green Hill

By Sophie Pierce

Letters to a son

Wednesday, 22 December 2021

The Ghost of Christmas Past

Dear friends, 

For me, Christmas is about layer upon layer of memories - both good and bad.  It is one of those rituals which throbs with emotion, and can be overwhelming, as well as full of joy. I clearly remember Christmases as a child, the excitement of putting out one of my father's big woolly socks, and waking up at about 3am (probably earlier), feeling around in the dark for the lumpy stocking on the end of the bed. I remember one year, when I was about 10, finding my mother's Christmas shopping list and reading it avidly.  By my name it had "nightie". On the day, I steeled myself to act delighted as I undid the parcel. To my joy (and relief)  I unwrapped an incredibly cool purple suede cowboy waistcoat with long fringes. (this was the 70s!) . I remember drives along dark, wet roads to Midnight Mass, squashed in the back of the car with my three brothers. One year we got stopped by the police who were doing random checks for drink drivers. I remember my brother James winding down the window and squeaking politely "Good Evening Officer!" . And I also remember coming into the kitchen after the Christmas meal and finding my mother crying over the washing up.

Of course, if you've lost someone dear to you Christmas is very mixed.  We've learnt to get through it by creating rituals to help us remember Felix, and mark his continued presence as a member of the family.  On Christmas Day we go to mass at Buckfast Abbey where his funeral was held. We then visit him at the Green Hill, where in the past we have placed a small tree. (This year he has a wreath made from foliage from the wood where I gathered flowers for his coffin). We take a candle which we leave burning when we depart. And of course, we toast him, as well as other absent friends.


I have finished the first draft of the book, which is due for publication in Spring 2023.  There's a lot of work to do between now and then, editing the manuscript to make it as good as it can be, and designing the cover and illustrations. 

Thank you again for your support, it means such a lot.  And have a very happy and peaceful Christmas and New Year. 

Warm wishes, 


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Sue Nightingale
 Sue Nightingale says:

I remember the purple waistcoat xx

posted 22nd December 2021

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