The Sandwich Generation at Christmas: Gentleman Jim Reeves, S Club 7 and Wham!

Like many others my of my generation, I seem to have found myself in the position of becoming the squeezed filling in a sandwich. The family sandwich that is, with elderly parents who need a considerable amount of assistance (in essence, your time) and offspring who also need a considerable amount of assistance (in essence, your cash). At no point in the year is this more apparent than at Christmastime.

The Christmas Sandwich

For the ladies in my mum’s retirement complex, their normal routine is thrown out of kilter which causes much confusion and distress. Combine that with trying to preserve the traditions of Christmas like writing cards to old friends, and the distress is compounded. We all pride ourselves around here on our knowledge of music and can hark back to what we were listening to up to 50 years ago. Imagine pouring over your Christmas card list only to find that you can’t remember the last name of life-long friends, and in many cases, can’t even remember who they are. It seems my mum’s long-term, as well as short-term memory, has now left her which is a frightening prospect for both of us. I’m not sure what the year ahead will bring but I do know, like many other ladies of her age, that she loved listening to a bit of Gentleman Jim Reeves, so this one’s for her – The highly sentimental (but unapologetically so) An Old Christmas Card.

James Travis Reeves hasn’t appeared on these pages before but his “Twelve Songs of Christmas” album was a staple in my parent’s house at this time of the year. The Texan country and popular music singer became well known as a practitioner of the Nashville sound (a mixture of older country-style music with elements of popular music) and his songs continued to chart for years after his death. Poor Jim died in a plane crash, like so many others of his generation, back in 1964 at the age of 40

But before things get too maudlin around here, I will move onto the other half of the sandwich, darling daughter. She moved home in the summer of 2016 for “around two months” but through no fault of her own is still with us. Having gone down the “artsy” route after school (I blame Mr WIAA’s side of the family), finding herself in a well-paid job by the age of 22 was always going to be hard and despite working full-time (and more) in a sometimes very stressful work environment, being able to cover the rent and bills for a flat is tricky at best. The ignominy therefore of living with your parents is still better than poverty it seems, and we are caught up in the moral dilemma of wanting to help out but also wanting to instil a sense of independence. At the moment “helping out” is winning, thus the outpouring of cash for a new laptop which will of course only be used for the purposes of further study and the completion of application forms!

It has been mentioned around here before that DD’s first single was one also much appreciated by the childlike Kayleigh Kitson from Peter Kay’s Car Share – Yes it was that wonderful pop song included in the “Now 48” album called Never Had A Dream Come True. It was used for one of the dream sequences featuring Peter’s character John, Kayleigh, and a monster truck! On the B-side of that millennium single however was this song, Perfect Christmas, which always takes me right back to those days when the grandparents were all still hale and hearty and the only item required for Santa’s sack was a large shiny toy with no electronics of any kind putting in an appearance. Happy days indeed so this one’s for her.

Perfect Christmas by S Club 7:

S Club 7 were of course a manufactured pop act put together by ex-Spice Girls manager Simon Fuller and they starred in four really successful kids’ sitcoms. They recorded some very pleasant pop records and I’m not even very sure why (maybe Kayleigh Kitson could help me with that one), but this “B-side” still ranks up there amongst my favourite Christmas songs ever.

So, “What’s It All About?” – For the second year in a row all this looking back nostalgically at the tracks of my years is making me maudlin. I did snap out of it last year before the big day however and I anticipate the same thing will happen this year. In any case, although I am listening to these songs with fond memories, as often happens they are probably selective ones – No doubt I was very unhappy listening to Jim Reeves as a 17-year-old in the year of punk, 1977. Also, although I had S Club 7 to serenade me back in the year 2000, having 10 people descend for Christmas dinner was no doubt a tad stressful.

George Michael RIP, in his 1984 Christmas jumper

But before I finish, unlike last year when I tried to be “cool” with my festive music choices, I am now obviously secure enough to share all manner of “uncool” material. Most of us will know that we lost George Michael on Christmas day last year which for me was a massive shock and many posts have been written about him here since. To my eternal shame I chose not to feature his Wham! triumph Last Christmas back then for fear of it being uncool to do so. As the clip epitomises my ever so slightly hedonistic mid-eighties lifestyle however, I have no compunction about doing so this year. I give you George, Andrew, Pepsi and Shirley having what seems to be a fantastic time in their winter hideaway – If that pesky heart just hadn’t been “given away the very next day”, all would have been perfect!

Last Christmas by Wham!

For those who celebrate it, Have a Very Merry Christmas from all of us who feature here at WIAA Towers (myself, Mr WIAA, DD and my little mum). See you on the other side, once it’s all over for another year. xxx


Last Christmas Lyrics
(Song by George Michael)

Last Christmas
I gave you my heart
But the very next day you gave it away.
This year
To save me from tears
I’ll give it to someone special.

Once bitten and twice shy
I keep my distance
But you still catch my eye.
Tell me, baby,
Do you recognize me?
It’s been a year,
It doesn’t surprise me
(Merry Christmas)

I wrapped it up and sent it
With a note saying, “I love you,”
I meant it
Now I know what a fool I’ve been.
But if you kissed me now
I know you’d fool me again.

Oh, oh, baby.

A crowded room,
Friends with tired eyes.
I’m hiding from you
And your soul of ice.
My god I thought you were someone to rely on.
Me? I guess I was a shoulder to cry on.

A face on a lover with a fire in his heart.
A man under cover but you tore me apart, ooh-hoo.
Now I’ve found a real love, you’ll never fool me again.

A face on a lover with a fire in his heart (I gave you my heart)
A man under cover but you tore him apart
Maybe next year I’ll give it to someone
I’ll give it to someone special.

Author: Alyson

Whenever I hear an old song on the radio, I am immediately transported back to those days - I know I'm not alone here and want to record those memories for myself and for the people in them. 50 years ago the song "Alfie" was recorded for the film of the same name and I'm hoping that by writing this blog, I might finally work out the answer to his question, "What's it all about?"

18 thoughts on “The Sandwich Generation at Christmas: Gentleman Jim Reeves, S Club 7 and Wham!”

  1. At 57, I find myself all filling and no sandwich. Having no kids was my choice, but I would dearly love to have my folks back for one more Christmas. It’s a blessing at least, that right up until their final days, whatever other ailments befell them, Mum and Dad’s memories remained intact. I have a couple of good friends whose own respective elderly Mum’s are now in very similar circumstances to your own, so I have some peripheral understanding of the pain and frustration the condition must cause. I truly hope come Christmas Day, when the festive tunes start to play at your Mum’s complex, that they spark little lights of happy recollections somewhere deep within her. Perhaps you should lend them a copy of the Jim Reeves album to play? Music is a miraculous thing.
    Wishing you and yours all the very best for Christmas and the new year Alyson.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I hope I haven’t been insensitive here – You are right of course, for those who us who no longer have parents still around, it would be lovely to have one more Christmas with them. My lovely dad left us far too soon but I have happy memories of the last Christmas spent with him. Just to be clear, my mum lives in one of those complexes of flats for the over 60s where there is no care but a communal lounge where they can have a get together (and they do, frequently). She will be with us on Christmas Day so I will play some Jim Reeves for her but going forward not sure how long she’ll be able to live alone in her flat, even with my help – We’ll see.

      Hope you’re feeling a little better now and don’t have to work too hard over the festive period – It looks as if I myself might have something lined up for the new year and although office work, which I had hoped to veer away from, the base is only 5 minutes walk from my house so it does kind of appeal.

      All the best for a lovely Christmas to you and Mrs S too. Another year of blogging under my belt – Who would have thought it!


  2. Hello there.
    Last night on TV I came across a channel that was showing a Johnny Cash Christmas special from 1983. It was taped in a small studio near to where his wife June grew up in, I think, Virginia. Very good show. June was on it. Ricky Skaggs too. Lots of traditional music.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. The disruption of routine at Christmas does, as you say, shine a light on family issues and makes us assess the good and the bad. It’s always a time of year that increases loneliness and makes people stop and take note. Yes, we should try to value what we have and not bemoan what we don’t, but often it’s just a case of surviving the festivities and waiting for things to get back to normal.

    Despite all that, I hope you and your family have a happy and peaceful Christmas, Alyson. See you on the other side!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It certainly does disrupt the routine and for older people it can all be a bit much. Having said that we are looking forward to the big day and I envy you having a small child in the house – Will be fun. I’m sure you’ll get some time off work as well so make the most of it and recharge the batteries for the term ahead. I don’t think I’ll post anything else now before Christmas but I’m sure the rest of you will, so we might cross paths later in the week.

      In the meantime, Merry Christmas to you and the family (& of course the new kitten).


  4. Lovely post and I can appreciate the frustrations of being at that stage in life where you have responsibilities in both directions! Like TS we don’t have children, so have avoided all those related issues, but the surviving parents bring worries and woes and although tricky I often think myself lucky it’s only that way around, and wonder how people cope with more! Mind you, within the last couple of weeks something – well, lots of things – have transpired re. my father which is giving my sister and me great anxiety and is particularly weird because we really haven’t had a relationship with him so-to-speak for over 35 years. But he’s still our father and he’s very old now and has got himself into a terrible situation which we have been called upon to help with (and not by him) so I feel as if suddenly all worries and feelings which should have accumulated slowly over the years but didn’t because of our emotional distance have now landed at our feet in one huge complicated lump! I’m starting to realise what it feels like now!!
    Anyway, I hope you and your family have a lovely Christmas and that your dear mum will enjoy hearing Jim Reeves and hopefully it may trigger some happy little memories for her. Wishing you all the best and thanks for another great year of blogging, tunes and for bringing us with you on the changes in your life in 2017. I’ll be posting general Christmas/New Year wishes over at my place nearer the day but in case I don’t see you here before then – have a good one Alyson! x

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m sorry this was such a maudlin post but this seems to be a regular occurrence for me now the week before Christmas – You can’t help thinking of Christmases gone by and somehow at this stage in life, it’s just not the fun that it used to be. I know that last year it all came together before the big day though and I might even sneak in another little post before then but at the moment, what with having to help out my mum so much, it’s all getting a bit difficult. That must be really hard for you having to suddenly step into the breach with caring for an elderly parent after a long gap. There is a tipping point where instead of turning to your parents for help and assistance (with gardening/decorating/advice etc.), they turn to you for the help and assistance. For us it was back in 2001 as one by one we started to lose them and suddenly we had to get much more involved. Sad but part of life I suppose and poor DD will have us one day.

      On a happier note, hope you have a lovely Christmas C and thanks for all your contributions here over the last year – I didn’t think I’d be able to keep going for another year (although I think the chapeau de bloggeur did contribute to my departure from the world of paid employment!) but I’ve enjoyed it all just as much, if not more, as I feel I’ve got to know some of the bloggers in our circle a lot better.

      Will look out for your festive posts over at your place but in the meantime, Merry Christmas x


  5. Being sandwiched in that way sounds hectic, but look on the bright side, nice that others need your help 🙂

    You know it’s December when you start hearing Last Christmas by Wham . I still love that song. Sad what happened to George Michael, and with his Christmas Day passing the song has become a tad bittersweet.

    Merry Christmas Alyson and family!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You are right of course – I appreciate having family and it is nice at this time to have the buzz of it all.

      I felt so bad on Boxing Day last year, of course about the death of George Michael, but also because I had deliberately not shared Last Christmas because I thought it would be a tad uncool to do so. What a fool I was as it was obvious after his death that he was one of the most highly respected artists of the late 20th century. Still a beautiful song but now kind of bittersweet as you say.

      Merry Christmas Chris – It’s been nice having you drop by this last year and sorry that I’ve perhaps teased you a bit too much. It’s what happens if you visit blogs hosted by people of “a certain age” – Ho ho ho!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Maybe I missed the subtext, maybe I just wasn’t paying attention, or maybe I was just being foolish, but I didn’t think you were being maudlin; not at all. And even if you were, *even* if you you were, then that’s your prerogative.
    You know I adore reading your blog; you really do do the hard yards and put your back into it. Whereas I on the other hand feel like the daydreamer at the back of the class who lives on his wits and does just enough to scrape through lessons. And homework. And exams. And life.

    I look forward to reading you in the New Year and, till then, take this opportunity to wish you and your clan a peaceful Christmas.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for the kind words as ever but perhaps I do need to sneak in something a bit more upbeat before the big day. I do however wish I could get to grips with the short and snappy blog post – Not my style however as I was the always the studious type at school/work and could never take the shortcuts. A curse I say, a curse!

      A very Merry Christmas to you and your family too – All very lovely around here at this time of the year and I will be dropping by your place soon to see what you have to say about it all.

      PS – Yes I spotted the typo and did a quick edit as I knew what must have happened. We all do these things. I love C’s blog too and am about to head over there next.


    1. I must admit, my routine of late has been to post on a Monday and next Monday is Christmas Day so thought this would be it, but who knows – Would like to post something a bit more upbeat perhaps later on in the week – We’ll see!

      In the meantime, in this my second Christmas on the blogosphere, a very Merry Christmas CC to you and your family. I will no doubt be dropping by your place later in the week. Thanks for all the great series you’ve given us this year.


  7. Ignore me! I’m ready for a holiday.
    Before I go I must tell you that my friend John Murray from school was in a punk band called the English Dogs who, back in the halcyon day, recorded a terrific version of Distant Drums by Jim Reeves. Right, I’m off. To leave confusing messages on more blogs!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I like Jim Reeves’ voice, but only have four tracks of his myself (including his big hit “He’ll Have To Go.”)

    Christmas can be very stressful, indeed, especially for those who’ve never had harmonious relationships with their families. I agree with John – this isn’t a maudlin post, it’s about real life and real people.

    All the best to you, Alyson, and Mr. WIAA & Darling Daughter at Christmas and throughout the New Year!

    I hope we see you again ’round these parts before Christmas. (There are many things that I like about WordPress blogs, but too bad their blogrolls don’t update. If you’re interested, I just posted Dusty with the Springfields doing The Twelve Days of Christmas – very traditional.)


    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Marie – Jim Reeves certainly had a beautiful soothing voice and I also have and like “He’ll Have To Go”.

      Yes, it’s really sad that this time of the year can cause so much stress, when the opposite should be the case. Real life however as you say.

      Merry Christmas to you Marie and your husband – I seem to remember you went away last year. Wonder if that’s on the cards this year too? Yes it’s a shame WordPress doesn’t update blogrolls for new posts but I will visit your place tomorrow morning and check out that Dusty post. I’m just back from our local theatre where I went to see the Christmas pantomime. Great stuff but not sure if you get them in Canada. Very traditional and had all the usual elements. Singing, dancing, slapstick, jokes, a baddie, a handsome prince and a grand finale.


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