No turkey. No fruit to make a decent pudding. No money for presents.
Your children away from home to keep them safe from bombing; your husband, father and brothers off fighting goodness knows where. How in the world does one celebrate Christmas? That was the situation facing the people of Britain for six long years during the Second World War. For some of them, Christmas was an ordinary day: they couldn't afford merrymaking - and had little to be merry about.
Others, particularly those with children, did what little they could. These first-hand reminiscences tell of making crackers with no crack in them and shouting 'Bang!' when they were pulled; of carol-singing in the blackout, torches carefully covered so that no passing bombers could see the light, and of the excitement of receiving a comic, a few nuts and an apple in your Christmas stocking. They recount the resourcefulness that went into makeshift dinners and hand-made presents, and the generosity of spirit that made having a happy Christmas possible in appalling conditions.
From the family whose dog ate the entire Christmas roast, leaving them to enjoy 'Spam with all the trimmings', to the exhibition of hand-made toys for children in a Singapore prison camp, the stories are by turns tragic, poignant and funny. Between them, they paint an intriguing picture of a world that was in many ways kinder, less self-centred, more stoical than ours. Even if - or perhaps because - there was a war on.