WHAT has happened to Christmas? Mince pies and puddings on sale in August, Christmas adverts on the telly before bonfire night.

During my childhood the Christmas countdown was a lot less stressful and always started in December.

At school our annual Christmas nativity play was in full rehearsals with me always playing one of the three kings.

We would decorate the school hall with brightly-coloured looped paper chains across the walls.

A common sight I remember was crates of frozen milk with Christmas holly foil bottle tops standing proud above the bottles placed near the radiator to consume lukewarm at morning break.

We always had a visit from the nit nurse and school dentist before Christmas for good luck!

Mum would buy us an advent calendar from Woolworth’s with a pictorial scene behind the paper doors, no chocolates then, but it did remind me the big day was drawing ever closer with a glittery double door nativity behind the 24th.

Dad would venture up into the attic a few weeks before Christmas for the tree, and the boxes of garish tinsel and honeycomb foil-like bells and stars decorations we put up every year.

We loved them all, especially the homemade wonky fairy made from a loo roll at school.

We watched Blue Peter with excitement giving instructions on how to make your own coat-hanger advent crown lit with candles on each corner, defying health and safety.

More excitement grew when we would look through the Grattans mail order catalogue making a big toy list for mum.

But when the double edition of the Radio Times came through the letterbox we were ecstatic, circling everything we wanted to watch with a red pen - back then we only had three channels and not a thousand like today.

It was a massive decision to choose well and not miss out on something new like the Six Million Dollar Man, but we always watched as a family The Great Escape, James Bond and the Morecambe and Wise Christmas special.

Top of the Pops’ number one was actually a festive tune then and not a cheesy output from the latest X Factor winner.

What’s gone wrong then?

Christmas used to be very exciting when I was growing up!